No Word Breaks Into The Dark—The Poetry of Hannah Arendt
“Of all things of thought, poetry is closest to thought, and a poem is less a thing than any other work of art . . .” -The Human Condition, p. 170.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Hannah Arendt always returned to poetry, and kept the language of German poems in her hinterkopf. For Arendt, poetry is the closest form we have to thought itself, bearing the burden of language and memory. It should then be no surprise that Arendt herself wrote poems.
Between 1923 and 1961 Hannah Arendt penned 73 poems. She carried the poems she wrote between 1923 and 1926 with her throughout exile, and eventually added them to those she wrote in New York. On the one hand, the poems offer a distinct space where Arendt reflected on World Wars, loneliness, alienation, and homelessness – those conditions that came to define the 20th Century for so many. On the other, we see a young reflective Arendt, writing love letters to Martin Heidegger and taking delight in the play of language and Romanticism.
The poems now appear in translation for the first time, edited and translated into English by Samantha Hill and French by Karin Biro. Biro and Hill join us to read from their translations and discuss Arendt’s poetry, the work of translation, and the place of poetry across Arendt’s political and philosophical works.
Samantha Rose Hill is a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College. Hill received her PhD in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2014. She completed postdoctoral work at Universität Heidelberg and the Institut für Philosophie at the Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt am Main. Hill is currently working on a bilingual edition of Hannah Arendt’s poems in German and English, and a second manuscript on Hannah Arendt and Theodor Adorno’s lectures on Kant and aesthetics.
Karin Biro Trained as a specialist in Romance and Germanic languages, Karin Biro studied at the universities of Hamburg and Heidelberg in Germany, the University of Geneva in Switzerland, and the Sorbonne in Paris, France. She taught German and French at the Ecole Allemande de Paris from 1971 to 2000, and from 1993 to 2014 taught German language and civilization at the prestigious Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Sciences-Po), Paris. She has translated and written books and articles on culture and Franco-German relationships, has authored a volume of poems illustrated by German artist Helmut Booz, and co-authored with Adam Biro a travelogue on Oriental-Prussia, which received funding from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2006). Her discovery of Hannah Arendt’s poems during a seminar she was teaching at Science-Po led to further research and eventually to the publication in October 2015 of a complete bilingual edition of Hanna Arendt’s poems by the French publisher Payot/Rivages (the translations into French are by François Mathieu). She also inspired the German publisher Piper to prepare a scholarly publication on the same topic.
The Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College
1448 Annandale Road
Annandale-On-Hudson, NY 12504
Seminar Room (first floor)
Free & Open to the Public. However, space is limited!
Please rsvp at [email protected]