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Departures from Rilke

Departures From Rilke is so many things: reenactments that verge on translation, the choreography of a poetry known so deep in the bones that it dances in the writer’s living room, a sort of thrashing with the original as Steven Cramer wrests Rilke into the 21st century. This book allows us to experience the poet’s mind shaped by a lifetime of inhabiting a set of poems that have provided specific and transcendent instruction to so many writers. That is why I find this book so very personal, unique, and delightful.

Cate Marvin

This is what Rilke might have composed had he been born in the United States and been thoroughly conversant in the trends of contemporary poetics . . . so that each poem’s intention gains tremendous immediacy.  [Cramer has] carried Rilke—not from German into English—but from one consciousness into another, to breathe in our atmosphere.

Steven Ratiner, Red Letter Poems

With tightly bladed imagery stripped of high Romanticism in a decidedly contemporary tone, Cramer reaches a new edge. Darkness and light, blindness and vision, such is mystery illuminated in a glimpse.

Barbara Siegel Carlson and Ewa Chrusciel, Solstice

Steven Cramer’s Departures from Rilke distills life and society’s difficult areas into palatable, poetic pieces which readers can savor and contemplate. It is personal yet universal, linguistically delightful, metaphysical yet real. In it, Cramer accomplishes what so few writers ever can.

Nicole Yurcaba, sage cigarettes magazine

Cramer repurposes, updates, and upends the matter and style of the originals, derived from his favorites among Rilke’s New Poems (1907-8).  His versions shimmer with contemporary resonance and personal passion, while always alert to Rilke’s chiaroscuro presence.

Ploughshares Bookshelf

In Departures From Rilke, Steven Cramer’s most recent collection of poems, we encounter a great contemporary poetic mind — a “lab geek,” to borrow from his version of “The Alchemist” — engaged in a feat of alchemical transformation using as prima materia the lyric poems from Rilke’s books titled New Poems and New Poems: The Other Part, published in 1907 and 1908 respectively.

Michael Mercurio, Cambridge Common Writers