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Uljana Wolf

This poem first appeared in the recent tenth issue of no man’s land. For the past ten years, no man’s land has featured first-ever translations of fiction and poetry by nearly 150 of the finest writers working in German today. Ours is a virtual no man’s land between languages and cultures – one which, like the former no man’s land of the Berlin Wall, is now open for exploration. no man’s land ceased publication with its 10th issue in 2015, but remains online at

Isabel Cole,
translator and founding editor of no man’s land.
© Jim Avignon


All subtitles invariably transform the original text. … Transformative subtitling implies that the original is not only what it is, but that it also exceeds itself.
Eric Cazdyn

<original version> lauren’s youngest sister has a gift for leading guests steadily out of the vestibule. wordily, casually, sir has hardly turned the key, he’s already floating out. we just live differently in the foyer, not obliged to our own. we could do worse than wear mantlepieces, a marble statue warms you better than your own thin skin. it’d be the one to resemble us: the worse for wear, maybe ours after all.

<original version with subtitles> lauren’s youngest sister has a gift for already leading guests on in the vestibule. casually, the way she – when he still stands – floats onto his lap, only with words. after all we live in the foyer, no one’s obliged. antics, acrobatics, to be a nice mantle – everything’s camouflage. while lauren warms the marble statue by the staircase, i work out our tactics: resemblance. that way everyone sees us, and no one can take what isn’t ours.

<english version> young sister lauren has a gift for guests, a gift for pleading, for her guests’ vests, casually, weigh wordy, casual, sir, barely turns the key, it’s already floating out. we live for yer, no abloquation on our own. antiques, apropostics, to be a marble statue warns you better than your own thin spin. taken that, perhaps we’d still see was: she’d be the one to assemble us. the verse to wear, maybe hours after ohr.

i mean, men sind nur big sleepers, right.
das einzige what makes them blink is mink.
Subsisters was written with: Howard Hawks: The Big Sleep, Fritz Lang: Clash by Night, Douglas Sirk: All That Heaven Allows, Alfred Hitchcock: Lifeboat, Josef von Sternberg: Morocco, Douglas Sirk: Imitation of Life, Otto Preminger: Laura.
From Uljana Wolf, falsche freunde © kookbooks, 2009
Translation © Sophie Seita, 2015

Uljana Wolf Photo: Vera Koubova
Uljana Wolf
is a German poet and translator based in Brooklyn and Berlin. She published four books of poetry with Kookbooks (Berlin), most recently falsche freunde (2009), meine schönste lengevitch (2013) and SONNE FROM ORT, a collaborative erasure of Elizabeth Barrett-Browning’s sonnets with Christian Hawkey (2012). An English translation of her poems, i mean i dislike that fate that i was made to where, was translated by Sophie Seita and published by Wonder Press, Brooklyn (2015). Wolf has received several grants and awards for her work, among them the prestigious Adelbert-von-Chamisso-Preis 2016, the Erlanger Prize for Poetry as Translation 2015, and the Peter-Huchel-Preis 2006. Wolf translates numerous poets and writers into German, among them John Ashbery, Charles Olson, Matthea Harvey, Christian Hawkey, Erín Moure, Cole Swensen and Yoko Ono. She teaches German and classes on poetry and translation at New York University, the Pratt Institute, Humboldt University Berlin and the Institut für Sprachkunst, Vienna.
Sophie Seita
Anika Komarowski
Sophie Seita
is the author of Meat (Little Red Leaves, 2015), Fantasias in Counting (BlazeVOX Books, 2014) and 12 Steps (Wide Range, 2012). She received a 2015 PEN/Heim Award to translate Uljana Wolf’s selected poems, forthcoming as a full-length collection from Belladonna in 2016. She previously curated the simultaneous and live-streamed ‘unAmerican Activities Transatlantic Reading Series’ between London and New York, and is a curator for the 2016 Segue Reading Series. She is the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards.