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This book, which accompanies the volumes published in the Salt Selected Writings series, guides readers through the many-faceted poetic output of Richard Berengarten (formerly Burns). Berengarten has been a crucial presence in contemporary poetry for over forty years – not only as poet but also as translator, critic and driving force behind the legendary Cambridge Poetry Festival – and his poetry has been translated into more than ninety languages. With thirty-four contributors from over a dozen nationalities, the book is a testimony to the recognition of his poetry by fellow writers and critics across cultural, linguistic and geographical boundaries and frontiers. The range of poetic canons to which Berengarten's oeuvre responds enables him to put down ‘multiple roots’ in a number of literary traditions, and this is reflected in the book’s diversity. It sets out not only to be of use to readers and scholars already acquainted with Berengarten’s poetry, but as a guide to those who are encountering his work for the first time. It is divided into three main sections, the first of which approaches the work thematically and the second chronologically, while the third focuses on his ‘Balkan trilogy’ (The Blue Butterfly, In A Time Of Drought and Under Balkan Light). The book also contains an appendix of essays on Berengarten's ancillary roles as literary activist, EFL teacher/entrepreneur and teacher of poetry to children, as well as a detailed bibliography.
‘In every generation of poets there are hidden treasures. One such is Richard Berengarten, a poet before and ahead of his time. This ambitious and scholarly collection of essays – aimed at existing and new readers – explores the multiple facets and layers of his large body of work. The matrix of Berengarten’s poems is found not in the ‘malady of the quotidian’ (Stevens) but in the mythos the poet lives by, with beacons such as the I Ching, Blake, Shelley, Rilke, Jung, Stevens, Seferis, Paz and Lalić lighting his way.’ —Anthony Rudolf
‘By exploring the numerous aspects of Richard Berengarten's poetry, by demonstrationg the amplitude of its concerns and testifying to its power, this series of essays earns its place among the major revaluations of our time.’ —George Szirtes
‘These essays and reflections offer a comprehensive and fascinating insight into the life and work of one of the most vital and humane poets working in Europe over the last several decades. This wonderful Critical Companion will not only be required reading for those already familiar with Richard Berengarten's work, but will, I hope, bring new readers to the poetry.’ —John Burnside
‘This book of essays, written by distinguished international poets and critics, explores many aspects of Richard Berengarten's writings: his lifelong interest in Jung and in myth, his Jewish heritage, his formal inventiveness, the daring of The Manager – a poem which remains as fresh as when it was first written – and the achievement of his poems set in the Balkans and Greece. SALT is to be congratulated in publishing such an important book.’ —Elaine Feinstein
‘These essays testify to a poet’s visionary quest, partly undertaken, partly circumstanced by a world often on the brink of collapse. In a multi-faceted career, Richard Berengarten has pursued Hölderlin’s question “what are poets for,” with a rare genius and tenacity, and with the utmost skill as both witness and craftsman.’ —Michael Heller