HomeAmos Weisz

poems and translations &c on Texts page

portrait from WorksongsAmos contacted me at the end of 2007 with the offer of some translations from contemporary German writers for Great Works. I was very enthusiastic, and I ended up by publishing on Great Works first six poems by Monika Rinck, translated by him (with German text), then also his translations from Sascha Anderson ("Jewish Jetset") and Johannes Jansen ("Ditch of fragments/Registrations II"), and two original texts by him, a piece of sort of memoirish prose, "of mutabilitie: a night with will self", and a longish poem, "tinfoot". The latter may well have been his most recently completed text before his death. His only other publication apart from these online texts, and professional translations from the German of academic texts, was a self-published volume, printed in India, and barely distributed, woss the damage, djinn? (makeshift press, 2006), as the start of a project to publish writing by people with mental health problems. All these texts are accessible also from the Texts page, with some information also. More texts were added in the period leading up to the book launch to illustrate the range of his writing.

I heard of Amos's suicide in 2008 from John Muckle, and then later in the year was contacted by his mother, Erna Weiss, who had been made aware of the material on Great Works, and had discovered to her surprise a large amount of both translations and poems by him among his possessions. With my son Nick's assistance, we found much more on his computer, which were printed off for her. I have spent a lot of time with Erna discussing the poems and translations, and assisting her in trying to work out some chronology from very disorganised papers and files. The final work of editing was done by Ian Fairley, whom Erna met at a conference on Celan — Ian's translations are prize-winning, and Amos's also astonishingly effective and powerful (though incomplete). The volume has been published, after some small press mis/adventures, under the Waterloo Press imprint.

Ian Fairley and I held the launch event on November 4, 2016, at the ever-welcoming Iklectik Art Lab, near Waterloo. There were some memories of Amos Weisz, by people who knew him, some accounts of and responses to his writing, and of course reading of his poems, in the presence of his daughters, Shula Weisz Quinn and Éadaoin Quinn. Ian Fairley very successfully created a moving and positive event, a model of how to commemorate and bring attention to a writer such as Amos, published only posthumously. We celebrated together a proud and intense poetic voice, that catastrophically silenced itself. The FaceBook page Amos Weisz, Worksongs Launch Event has photos I took at the evening. Worksongs can be bought from this site using PayPal, at £12 including p&p:

I believe Amos wrote some astonishing poems, strong, vivid, from a strange and alien place which recreates language and perception. I will add a selection of these to this site, a few every week. It is a serious poetry, written through his life, and with engagement with a range of contemporaries and other influences. It also is situated in Amos's own psychological space, one of woundedness and extremes, in which a birthright is fought with and fought over. It is never easy or something as stupid as seductive, but can switch from the finest gallows humour to disgust and abjection in an instant. To give a passage from his manifesto as a publisher of poetry of the mentally ill:

"therefore we at MAKE SHIFT PRESS (when I say we, we mean me) have averred that the situation cannot go on any longer, and calls for radical action — i.e, more literature. The situation being what it is, irredeemable, we have chosen to redeem our diagnoses of manic depression, catatonia, schizo-affective syndrome, full-blown schizophrenia, and all the other rotten symptomatics of a NEW WORLD ORDER that has always, to the best of our knowledge, prevailed ('what use for poets in a leaden age?' — poor mad hoelderlin 200 years ago), where the white logic of virtual reason vampirises the very meaning of any condition but satiety, and renders poor to the point of indigence the paradox, ambivalence, and raging despair that are our lifeblood, clunking on birkenstock sandals or rubber soles, according to the hegemonics of national conformity, to rubber-stamp the vegetable codes implanted by the industrial effluents of our latest atypical antipsychotic drugs — we have chosen to redeem, said that, our condition, ditto, with poetry — of the atypical variety. imitative to the roots of our being, no path other was available to us, us touretters of the culture placebo."

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