Nearly four dozen poems inspired by early 20th century portraits taken by German photographer August Sander, poet/critic Adam Kirsch's Emblems of the Passing World is not only a snapshot of a bygone era, but also a rendering of a nation and its inhabitants just prior to a political upheaval that would change the course of history forever. Each poem shares its name with the titled photograph on the opposing page, with Sander's subjects' lives imagined and deconstructed by Kirsch. Capturing the breadth of German society, including children, bricklayer, soldier, parliamentarian, scholar, mother, clerk, student, and many points in between, Kirsch takes Sander's imposing photographs and reanimates their subjects — envisaging individual lives great and small. Recommended By Jeremy G., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
August Sander's photographic portraits of ordinary people in Weimar Germany inspire this uncanny new collection of poems by one of America's most celebrated writers and critics
Through his portraits of ordinary people--soldiers, housewives, children, peasants, and city dwellers--August Sander, the German photographer whose work chronicled the extreme tensions and transitions of the twentieth century, captured a moment in history whose consequences he himself couldn't have predicted. Using these photographs as a lens, Adam Kirsch's poems connect the legacy of the First World War with the turmoil of the Weimar Republic with moving immediacy and meditative insight, and foreshadow the Nazi era. Kirsch writes both urgently and poignantly about these photographs, creating a unique dialogue of word and image that will speak to all readers interested in history, past and present.