Cult K: Poetry as Encounter: Paul Celan and Osip Mandel'shtam
Ivan Sokolov (University of California, Berkeley)
How does a poem address us, how does it seek to convey its difficult message? The two poets in question proposed that the poem's message reaches us as if "in a bottle": it comes out of the blue and often feels alien, but there is a sense of urgency to it. Many a reader would consider the poetry of Celan and Mandel'shtam to be "coded," "hermetic" (even "incomprehensible"). We will work to push past that illusion - not to decode or demystify the work, but to understand its political and historic urgency and to follow it into its space of a candid and vulnerable encounter.