by Christian Hawkey
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Christian Hawkey's hard-to-classify Ventrakl puts prose, poetry, and photographs to fascinating work as he attempts to draw closer to the early-twentieth-century German writer Georg Trakl. Trakl was more than slightly enigmatic in his own day—Great War medic, pharmacist, drug addict, blisteringly gifted Expressionist poet, and suicide at twenty-seven—and Hawkey (whose previous work includes the 2007 poetry collection Citizen Of) manages with great resourcefulness to both mitigate and highlight the cultural and linguistic gap between himself and his long-dead predecessor.
He does so in part by deploying numerous, often radical translation methods. These include, as he states in a preface, firing a shotgun at the pages of a Trakl book and working from the remains, or soaking a copy in rainwater "until its pages,
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