In Bed With Celan
    Ruth Knafo Setton
"Consecrate my cock," writes Celan. His art is to turn the literal metaphorical, the mortal eternal, the prosaic sacred. Images loom stark and unforgettable against the white of the page and the reaches of memory. "Words in blood-bloom" leave a pebble path the reader follows in an attempt to return to the source, to relive and understand what came before. His poetry strips the moment of its protective flesh and camouflage, and forces the reader to stare unblinking into the flames. Celan is the poet of ice and flames, his world one of shattering beauty and unspeakable horrors. "Soul-blind behind the ashes", he hears "the shofar traced in limestone," and thrusts through the solitude of the soul: "he decomposes the visual purple,/he composes it." His vision bares existence, accepts the mysteries, and sees "the ounce of truth in the depths of delusion." Celan "trust(s) the tearstain," and I trust him because his mind is "beautiful/never ever to be veiled."

Ruth Knafo Setton's novel, THE ROAD TO FEZ, was recently published by Counterpoint Press. The recipient of fellowships and awards from the NEA, PEN, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, she is the Writer-in-Residence for the Berman Center for Jewish Studies at Lehigh University. Her poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in many journals and anthologies. For her interpretation of Celan's work, she used the Heather McHugh and Nicolai Popov translation, GLOTTAL STOP: 101 POEMS BY PAUL CELAN (Wesleyan Poetry: University Press of New England, 2000).


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