Wonder-Work: Selected Sonnets of Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg

Book, 2023, 168 pp
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An unusual poet from the Baroque period meets 21st century poet-translators in this exceptional book. Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg's intense devotional poems are matched with innovative and moving new English versions from Canadians Epp, Ito, and Klassen. This is astonishing Metaphysical poetry: original, provocative, reverent.

The translators have chosen 65 poems from 300 in Greiffenberg's best-known work, Geistliche Sonette, Lieder und Gedichte. The sonnets in Wonder-Work are presented in both German and English.

Not only in distress and death, but in my very mouth my beloved gives himself to me in sweetness. His blood, inflamed by love, shall quiet my heart’s heat. I kiss and eat him out of love, here in my throat. He could not be more closely wed with me.

Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg (1633-1694), considered one of the most noteworthy German-language poets of the seventeenth century, was born into a family of the Protestant nobility in Austria midway through the Thirty Years’ War. Unusually well-educated for a woman of her time, she read widely and learned several languages. After experiencing a spiritual awakening as a young adult, she resolved to glorify God through her writing. Her works include a volume of poetry and three volumes of meditations on the life, suffering, and death of Christ.

About the translators:

Joanne Epp is a Winnipeg poet and musician with two published collections, Eigenheim (2015) and Cattail Skyline (2021).

Sarah Klassen is a Winnipeg poet and fiction writer. Her first language was German, but she writes only in English. She has published four books of fiction and eight books of poetry; her upcoming New and Selected Poems is also published by CMU Press.

Sally Ito is a poet and translator living in Winnipeg. Her first book of translated poetry, with Michiko Tsuboi, was Are You an Echo: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko, published in 2016. Her own latest collection, Heart’s Hydrography, was published in 2022.

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