Anne Posten

Anne Posten © Mustafa Keskin Anne Posten did her first translations as a German major at Oberlin College. In 2008, the year that she graduated, she was awarded an honorable mention in the Susan Sontag Translation Prize for her work on Albert Ostermaier’s poetry.

After an internship at the Center for the Art of Translation in San Francisco, she studied Creative Writing and Literary Translation at Queens College, CUNY. She received her MFA in 2013, after winning the inaugural Loose Translations Award from Hanging Loose Press, which resulted in the publication of her translation of Tankred Dorst’s novella This Beautiful Place. She has taught in the English department at Queens College since 2012, and spent academic year 2014-15 in Berlin as the recipient of a Fulbright grant.

Short translations of poetry and prose have appeared or are forthcoming in n+1, Gigantic, Hanging Loose, Words Without Borders, FIELD, Stonecutter, and The Agriculture Reader. Book-length works include Glass! Love!! Perpetual Motion!!!: A Paul Scheerbart Reader, Anna Katharina Hahn’s Shorter Days, and Monika Held’s This Place Holds No Fear. In addition to translating, she published an essay on translating Thomas Brasch for the 2012 issue of Text+Kritik dedicated to the latter’s work, and is a regular reviewer for Words Without Borders. Posten lives and works in New York.

Three questions to Anne Posten

Why did you choose to become a translator? Is it the profession you always wanted?

I became a translator because I love working with language and because I find it to be the closest, most challenging, and pleasurable way to encounter a text. It’s a joy to share writing that I love with English-language readers, and it’s a privilege to be trusted with an author’s words—to be able to live with a text and become part of it in a way beyond reading.
I knew I wanted to be a translator as soon as I translated my first poem. As a lifelong musician, reader, writer, and lover of German culture, translation was the answer to my prayers—a career that combined elements of all of those things.
Which German book do you like the best and why?

I could never pick a favorite book, in German or any other language, but Thomas Brasch—a German writer who was himself also a translator—is the person whose work I first loved enough to attempt to translate it. I will also always think of the first short story I ever read in German, by the Swiss writer Peter Bichsel. I have continued to love his work and the combination of empathy and dark humor present in both his work and that of other Swiss writers such as Franz Hohler.
Is there a particular book you would like to translate?

Speaking of empathy and dark humor, I’ve really fallen in love with the work of the young novelist Verena Rossbacher, who grew up in Austria and Switzerland and lives in Berlin. I’d love to translate either of her books: Verlangen nach Drachen, a book about a woman from the perspective of six former- or would-be-lovers, or Schwätzen und Schlachten, a funny, moving, and erudite metafictional murder mystery.

Selection of translated titles

  • Carl Seelig: Walks with Walser (Wanderungen mit Robert Walser). New Directions, 2017. 
  • Monika Held: This Place Holds No Fear (Der Schrecken verliert sich vor Ort). Haus Publ., 2015
  • Tankred Dorst: This Beautiful Place (Der schöne Ort). Hanging Loose Press, 2012