Poetry by Jan Peter Tripp
Translated by Michael Hamburger
W.G. Sebald and Jan Peter Tripp were friends from their schooldays. Unrecounted combines 33 of what W.G. Sebald called his “micro-poems”—miniatures as unclassifiable as all his works—with 33 lithographs by the acclaimed artist Jan Peter Tripp. The art and the poems do not explain one another, but rather engage in a kind of dialog. “The longer I look at the pictures of Jan Peter Tripp,” Sebald comments in his essay, “the better I understand that behind the illusions of the surface, a dread-inspiring depth is concealed. It is the metaphysical lining of reality, so to speak.” The lithographs portray with stunning exactness pairs of eyes: among them the eyes of Beckett, Borges, Proust, Jasper Johns, Francis Bacon, Tripp, and Sebald. The poems are anti-narrative, epiphanic and brief as haiku. What the author calls “time lost, the pain of remembering, and the figure of death” here find a small home.