Lutz Seiler

Pitch & Glint

2023 Poetry Book Society Translation Choice

On its original publication in 2000, Pitch & Glint was widely hailed as a landmark in German poetry. Rooted in Seiler’s childhood home, an East German village brutally undermined by Soviet Russian uranium extraction, these propulsive poems are highly personal, porous, twisting, cadenced, cryptic and earthy, traversing the rural sidelines of European history with undeniable evocative force. The frailty of bodies, a nearness to materials and manual work, the unknowability of our parents’ suffering, and ultimately the loss of childhood innocence, all loom large in poems where sound comes first. As Seiler says in an essay, ‘You recognise the song by its sound. The sound forms in the instrument we ourselves have become over time. Before every poem comes the story that we have lived. The poem catches the sound of it. Rather than narrating the story, it narrates its sound.’

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More Info

  • As well as on our author page, you can learn more about Lutz Seiler on his website (in German), here.
Print status: Available
Author: Lutz Seiler
Translator: Stefan Tobler
Original language: German
Format: B-format paperback
Publication date: 6 September 2023
ISBN: 9781913505769
Ebook ISBN: 9781913505776
Availability: World English

Reviews

Philip Terry
The Guardian

‘Meticulously translated from German, these poems create an inimitable sound world where everything is muted as if beneath a blanket of snow, whispering, sizzling, crackling.’

Karen Leeder
Times Literary Supplement

‘This is a new kind of eco-poetry, born out of the last days of the GDR, with broken syntax, truncated rhythms, odd juxtapositions, neologisms, ampersands and a rejection of standard capitalization.’

Karen Leeder
Times Literary Supplement

‘Served by a trio of stellar translators, And Other Stories has done a great service bringing these three works into English. They will allow a new audience to enter Lutz Seiler’s haunted world and admire his singular voice in its different refractions.’

Rishi Dastidar
The Guardian, Best poetry books of 2023

‘Lutz Seiler’s Pitch & Glint … uses broken and glitchy language to reflect the fractures of East German history… These poems, and their English translation by Stefan Tobler, are a rare achievement.’

Harry Josephine Giles, Poetry Book Society's Translation Choice selector

‘Recording this music requires such fluid syntax, allowing sentences to slip over and under each other to make new meanings. The force of this music made me reconsider the values of the broad field of ecological poetry.’

Chris McCabe, Librarian of the National Poetry Library, UK

‘Lutz Seiler began as a bricklayer and ended up building poems. “Why I started to read and write, I have no idea,” he says, but we should be glad. Pitch & Glint created a storm when it was published in its original German. Finally these poems are translated into English by Stefan Tobler.’  

Evelyn Schlag
PN Review

‘The Georg Büchner Prize, the most prestigious prize in German literature, has been awarded to a magician of poetic language. [...] A true conjuror, he has rightly joined the company of his great countryman Wolfgang Hilbig, that other bulwark of German poetry and prose.’

Jack Barron
The Arts Desk

‘A seminal work of German verse translated into radiant English for the first time [...] Like the uranium that underlaid Seiler's childhood, Pitch & Glint burns with an unstable power.’

Michael Hofmann
TLS, International Books of the Year

Pitch & Glint resists description but compels shock, admiration and envy. It has something of the amphibrachic chant of early Celan, jolie-laide language, lower case, ampersands, a harsh and physical sampling of a childhood in a working landscape (the uranium mines) in the last years of the GDR.’

Patrick McGuinness

‘Seiler's poems are immersive, unpredictable journeys into a past that is both irrecoverably lost and hauntingly present. They are at once soundscapes and dream-narratives, their language propulsive and furious and broken.’  

Alex Niven

‘Pitch & Glint unfurls against the backdrop of late-twentieth-century East Germany, a landscape strewn with spoilheaps, disappeared villages, "snow, oil and phlegm". Wandering over this uncertain terrain, Seiler meditates hauntingly on the disembodied lives emerging from its midst – and Tobler's stark, elegant translations do a fine job of capturing the essential interplay of muscularity and vaporousness at its heart. This is an exquisite, humane, deliciously shadowy verse music – a real-world Stalker with line-breaks. ’  

Joshua Weiner
POETRY magazine

‘Seiler has effectively rewired the lyric for the twenty-first century.’

Michael Krüger

Pitch & Glint was an event, because all of us who still believe poetry can do something, felt that something was being given voice by this poet, something that would otherwise have been hopelessly lost.’

Angelika Overath
Neue Zürcher Zeitung

‘Epoch-making.’

Ursula Krechel
Der Tagesspiegel

‘Seiler's poems are original. They have body and a rhythm. They breathe dust and dirt, the desolation in minds and homes, the collapse and change, but their form is so strong that something new arises.’

Helmut Böttiger
Frankfurter Rundschau

‘Here the contemporary appears with archaic force.’

Lothar Müller
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

‘Seiler is not aiming at reportage, not a documentary recording of places and landscapes. He is after the images with which they are internalised: how they get into people's bones. [...] Distrustful of fixed rhyming schemes, he throws his lines like garlands over the sentence structures, playing with internal rhyme and alliteration, closer to Dylan Thomas than Peter Huchel. This slim, wonderful book is like a seashell: a part of Germany is enclosed in it, in a rush of sound.’

Martin Ahrends
Die Zeit

‘Seiler's art is an inbetween one. Pitch & Glint remains a secret until you find a way in, reading it as an evocation and as a challenge to move in echoing sounds.’


More Praise for Lutz Seiler's Poetry

‘Seiler has masterful command of a subtle style, both skittish and firm in its diction and movement, tense and tensile in its branching extensions and jittery vertiginous drops. One could call it elliptical, but it’s more a kind of binocular vision, with one lens ground for cosmic focus and the other for a microscope. The voicing of such vision shifts from ecstatic to abject; the idiom is constantly sliding, smearing, merging to connect phenomena and feeling in work that opens a new approach in the ecological awareness currently driving poetry on both sides of the Atlantic. Seiler has effectively rewired the lyric for the twenty-first century, tuning the dial of the poetic to its lower frequencies, where the signal can pass through walls.’ Joshua Weiner, Poetry magazine