Ugly Duckling Presse


Christian Hawkey

Poetry | $17 $15
Buy"Ventrakl is beautifully paced and brilliantly drawn."

Envisioned in the form of a scrapbook, Ventrakl folds poetry, prose, biography, translation practices, and photographic imagery into an innovative collaboration with the 19th/early 20th century Austrian Expressionist poet Georg Trakl. Like Jack Spicer’s After Lorca, translation is the central mode of composition in this book, and it is also the book's central theme, which Hawkey explores in a surprising array of different genres and modes of writing. What evolves is a candid and deeply felt portrait of two authors—one at the beginning of the 20th century, the other at the beginning of the 21st century, one living and one dead—wrestling with fundamental concerns: how we read texts and images, how we are influenced and authored by other writers, and how the practice of translation—including mistranslation—is a way to ornament and enrich the space between literature and life.

Excerpt ˇ



Orphans die more gleefully in the green West.
A tapestry made of gelatin. Binary ears.
A hand raised into the wavering trauma-light.

Bright pearls cluster—as if glued—around
The newly opened eyelids of an infant.

Blue lies beneath this all bending, as do
Stunted uncles, kissing. Azrael,

Shaken, backs his red go-cart through the wall.Close ˆ

About the Author

Christian Hawkey
Christian Hawkey has written two full-length collections of poetry (The Book of Funnels and Citizen Of), four chapbooks (HourHour, Petitions for an Alien Relative, Ulf, Sonette Mit Elisabethanischem Maulwurf), and a bi-lingual book of erasures, Sonne from Ort, made collaboratively with the German poet Uljana Wolf, with whom he also translates Ilse Aichinger. In 2006 he received a Creative Capital Innovative Literature Award. In 2008 he was a DAAD Artist-in-Berlin Fellow. In 2010 he created, with Rachel Levitsky, OoRS. His work has been translated into more than a dozen languages. 

Advance Praise

Christian Hawkey's brilliant Ventrakl puts Trakl's tragic life squarely into the poetic equation, testifies to the enormous change that has come over lyric poetry in the twenty-first century.—Marjorie Perloff
Ventrakl will speak resonantly to anyone who has fallen for the work of someone long dead and wants desperately to reach out both to it and to its creator.—Laird Hunt, Bookforum
Christian Hawkey’s latest and arguably best book, Ventrakl, is a ghost story—not in the flashlight-under-the-face, seated-around-the-campfire sense, but rather in the hauntological, Derridean one.—Kathleen Rooney, Boston Review
Spooky, truly moving, Ventrakl’s poems gimme the chills. Its veiled protests notwithstanding, this is original art. Unprecedented invention: adroit, and magisterial.—Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle, Mo
As an exploration of the intricate relationship between writers and between texts, as well as of the processes involved in writing and translating, this is an invaluable volume. It also, by telling the truth but telling it slant, serves as a beautifully quirky companion to Georg Trakl’s poetry and ought to introduce him to a whole new readership.—Catherine Hales, Poetry Salzburg Rev
I think this is a book we’ve needed for a while: one about ages of communication, manifestation, making, taking, needing, motivation, depression, terror, resonance, resounding, finding, nameless spaces: a mode somewhere between any mode at all, and yet one with immense tenderness and magic language shaking in its grace.—Blake Butler, HTMLGIANT