In her German poetry collection Europaia (2021), or European-ish, Alexandra Bernhardt establishes what it means to be European through found, fractured, and experimental poems, reflecting Europe’s long and shifting cultural identities. From Icelandic histories to Greco-Roman mythologies, her poems present a collage of locations and personalities that compose the European character. At the center of Bernhardt’s work is a focus on encountering the other, which is perhaps Europe’s greatest historical inheritance—border-creation, border-destruction, and all that lies between.
Bernhardt’s restructuring and deconstruction of language include Middle High German dialect and unestablished compound words, creating a rich and complicated narrative for twenty-first-century readers. Reflecting the impossibility of defining identity for such a fractured landscape, Bernhardt’s poems often self-emulsify, creating mise en abyme effects for the reader. She returns to language and ideas, a circular writing practice, throughout the collection and even within singular poems, as noted by “seedsated” and “sowingseed” (sattsamen and Säsamen) in the last two lines of her poem “Idiosynkratische Botanik.” These four poems are highly representative of her work in Europaia, a collection that disrupts our notions of a singular European cultural construct—there is no one historical or present-day Europe, Bernhardt argues, but instead multiple Europes Frankensteined together into something more reflective of human movement and resistance on the continent.
Born in Bavaria in 1974, Alexandra Bernhardt now lives in Vienna. Recent publications include Threshold Time: Of Honey and Poppy (Edition Melos, 2022), Europaia (Sisyphus, 2021), and White Salamanders (Edition Open Field, 2020). Her poems have been translated into Danish, Dutch, and French—and set to music. She translates foreign language poetry, including from Danish, Icelandic, Catalan, Polish, and Romanian. In the spring of 2020, she founded Edition Melos, which publishes primarily contemporary German-language poetry. Bernhardt has received numerous awards for her work, including the 2021 Vienna Literature Grant for her Zoon Poietikon poetry series and the 2022 RAI Südtirol Media Prize for her Trutzlichtigall poetry series.
The author of Slaughterhouse for Old Wives’ Tales (Sundress 2024) and two chapbooks, Hannah V Warren is a doctoral candidate at the University of Georgia, a Fulbright scholar, and a translator. Her poetry appears in Gulf Coast, Passages North, Crazyhorse, THRUSH, and Fairy Tale Review, among others. Warren’s critical work often centers monstrosity and aesthetics in speculative literature.