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When We Leave Each Other (Tr. Patrick Phillips)

Henrik Nordbrandt
Open Letter

“Denmark’s most respected and honored contemporary poet, has found in Patrick Phillips his ideal translator. . . . A translation that so naturalizes the original that it seems as if these poems have always been a part of our linguistic inheritance.” —Tom Sleigh


Translated from the Danish and with an Introduction by Patrick Phillips

Although most of his life has been spent abroad in countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, Henrik Nordbrandt has simultaneously and undeniably emerged, next to Inger Christensen, as one of Denmark’s very best contemporary poets. If it was Paul Celan who first claimed that poetry was “a message in a bottle, sent out in the—not always greatly hopeful—belief that somewhere and sometime it could wash up on land, on heartland perhaps,” it is nevertheless Nordbrandt’s unusually intimate poems that enact this unforgettably, as well as his persistent subjects: the joys and strangeness of travel, the tragicomic absurdity of our attempts to make sense of the world, and above all, the sweetness and ache of human love. Highlighting his entire career, the poems in When We Leave Each Other include a generous selection of recent and never-before-translated work into English that is certain to establish Nordbrandt as an essential contemporary lyric poet for American readers.