Michael Hofmann’s home territory is language, while his life is extraterritorial. He was born in Germany, went to school in England, now lives in Germany, but teaches in North America. He has also made a living out of working between languages, translating scores of texts from German into English. He is as well-known as a translator as he is as a poet. He has said some interesting things about his linguistic domicility. In one interview, he speaks of his problems with English: for him it’s a ‘class trap, a dialect trap, a feeling trap’. German doesn’t have such heffalump traps, he feels; it offers greater scope for frankness (get it?), despite its wounds. Nevertheless, he continues to write poems in English.
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