'Know yourself and in that instant
Know the Other and see therefore
Orient and Occident
Cannot be parted for evermore'
--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, West-Eastern Divan

A New Divan
A Lyrical Dialogue between East and West

Foreword by Daniel Barenboim
Edited by Bill Swainson and Barbara Haus Schwepcke

A New Divan is a Gingko project that will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Goethe’s West-Eastern Divan (1819). This ambitious anthology will bring together new poems by twenty-four leading poets – 12 from the ‘East’ and 12 from the ‘West’ – in a truly international poetic dialogue inspired by the culture of the Other. The poets come from across the East (from Morocco to Turkey, Syria to Afghanistan) and from across the West (from Germany to Mexico, Estonia to Brazil). The new poems will respond to the titles of the twelve books of Goethe’s original Divan, including ‘The Poet’, ‘Love’, ‘Ill-humour’, ‘The Cup-Bearer’, ‘The Tyrant’ and ‘Paradise’, and will draw on the distinctive poetic forms of the cultures of the poets taking part. Twenty-two English-language poets have been commissioned to create English versions of the poems not originally written in English, either by direct translation or by working with a literal translation.

A New Divan will be accompanied by six essays exploring the differences and similarities between Eastern and Western poetry and discussing the challenges of literary and cultural translation. The essays will enhance and complement the poems, mirroring Goethe’s original notes and commentary. Contributors are Robyn Creswell, Narguess Farzad, Rajmohan Gandhi, Kadhim Jihad Hassan, Stefan Weidner and Sibylle Wentker.

The commissioned poets included in A New Divan were chosen with the help of two principal advisors: the Mexican-British poet Michael Schmidt, director of Carcanet Press, and the German poet Joachim Sartorius, formerly overall director of the Goethe Institut. We have also been greatly helped by Samuel Shimon and Margaret Obank of Banipal (the magazine of modern Arab literature), Narguess Farzad of SOAS and Alexandra Dugdale, former editor of Modern Poetry in Translation.

UK publication date: June 2019
Format: Royal Hardback
ISBN: 9781909942288
Price: £20

Eastern Poets English-Language Poets
Abbas Baydoun (Lebanon) Bill Manhire
Adonis (Syria) Khaled Mattawa
Fadhil Al-Azzawi (Iraq) Jorie Graham
Amjad Nasser (Jordan) Fady Joudah
Fatemeh Shams (Iran) Dick Davis
Gonca Özmen (Turkey) Jo Shapcott
Hafez Mousavi (Iran) Daisy Fried
Iman Mersal (Egypt) Sinead Morrissey
Mohammed Bennis (Morocco) Elaine Feinstein
Mourid Barghouti (Palestine) George Szirtes
Nujoom Al-Ghanem (UAE) Doireann Ní Ghríofa
Reza Mohammedi (Afghanistan) Nick Laird


Western Poets English-Language Poets
Antonella Anedda (Italy) Jamie McKendrick
Homero Aridjis (Mexico) Kathleen Jamie
Angélica Freitas (Brazil) Tara Bergin
Durs Grünbein (Germany) Matthew Sweeney
Clara Janés (Spain) Lavinia Greenlaw
Jaan Kaplinski (Estonia) Sasha Dugdale
Khaled Mattawa (USA)
Gilles Ortlieb (France) Sean O’Brien
Don Paterson (UK)
Raoul Schrott (Austria) Paul Farley
Aleš Šteger (Slovenia) Brian Henry
Jan Wagner (Germany) Robin Robertson
The publication of A New Divan will be accompanied by a series of events during 2019.
Hay Festival (Hay-on-Wye)
Shubbak Festival (London)
Bradford Literature Festival
Leeds Libraries
Edinburgh International Book Festival
Divan 200, Barenboim-Said Akademie, Berlin
Sharjah, World Book Capital 2019

Explore the New Divan project

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  • Publicity

  • Contributors

'Is that leaf one and lonely?
In itself in two divided?
Is it two that have decided
To be seen as one leaf only?'
--Anthea Bell's translation from Goethe's 'Gingko biloba' (1815)

To coincide with the publication of A New Divan, Gingko is delighted to be publishing a new English translation of Goethe’s West-Eastern Divan (1819) by Professor Eric Ormsby, two hundred years on from the publication of Goethe’s original work.

West-Eastern Divan
Goethe’s Lyrical Dialogue with Hafez

Translated by Eric Ormsby
Edited by Bill Swainson

Goethe’s West-Eastern Divan was a very personal attempt to broaden the horizons of European readers by entering into a lyrical yet scholarly dialogue with the Other. From the time of the Persian Wars, the Orient had been seen as alien, as a threat to the West; a threat that was central to the formation of Western identity. This new, annotated prose translation by the poet and scholar, Eric Ormsby, includes for the first time a translation of the poet’s remarkable prose commentary on the Islamic world (‘For Better Understanding . . .’). With this bilingual edition Gingko hopes not only to make a significant contribution to the study of this quintessential German poet, but, at a time of renewed western unease about the Other, to open up the rich cultural world of Islam.

UK publication date: September 2019
Format: Royal Hardback
ISBN: 9781909942240
Price: £30