José F.A. Oliver



José F. A. Oliver

is one of the most “important poets of his generation in Germany” (El Mercurio, Santiago de Chile), and one of the most significant inter-cultural writers of German language today. He writes predominantly in German but is also influenced by Spanish poets such as Federico Garcia Lorca. To date he has published more than 14 volumes of poetry, and has received numerous awards. In 1997 he was awarded with the Adalbert-von-Chamisso-Preis, the most prestigious award for an inter-cultural author in Germany. Mr. Oliver was also guest professor and writer-in-residence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. (2002), and at the University of Warwick, UK (2007). Acclaim for Mr. Oliver’s work: “José Oliver’s poetry is unique among the works of contemporary writers in Germany. (…) Anybody, who looks in present day poetry for music, for the linguistic and aesthetic experiment, for harmony between breath and image, for sound-crystals, will be amply rewarded.” (J. Sartorius, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Munich); “We deal with a talent of highest quality, with a poet of entire individual dignity, with a writer of rare earnestness.” (F.J.

Raddatz, Die Zeit, Hamburg).Or as literary scholar Harald Weinrich puts it during the laudation for his Chamisso Award: “José Oliver rejects any form of linguistic expression, in German or in Spanish, if it is not thoroughly exploring the foreignness ‘outside’ and the foreignness ‘inside’ oneself, or if it does not teach his readers to live in this world as foreigners and refugees themselves.”



ISBN: 978-1-945680-10-6



Translationand Introduction by Marc James Mueller

"JoséF. A. Oliver's dream of 'an open language,' which mixesthe cadences and inflections of his Andalusian roots withthe inventive possibilities of German, reminds us that foreignness is our true condition. He bridges ethnic and non-ethnic German in sandscript, which explores some of the same broken terrain mapped by another brave traveler in the language, Paul Celan, and what he encounters line by line is a self that is at once foreign and familiar: 'my poem my word' Here is the work of a man who is 'German and still not German, Spanish and still not Spanish, on the move: Me. You will find him everywhere?"

-Christopher Merrill, author of Necessities

"I have been savouring the amazing accomplishment of Sandscript thank you so much for your amazing, translingual poetry: a body of work that is robust yet delicate, powerful, memorable, deep! Such a moving experience to read both your originals, and the translations."

-Ranjit Hoskoté



ISBN 1-4039-6066-6

$22.95/$33.95 Can.


"Lives in Translation is a very beautiful and magical book, written in many voices and many inflections. It is a testament to the privileges and perils that human beings discover when they cross a linguistic boundary and discover not just other customs and other people but another self, another me. A priceless addition to the literature of exile." -André Aciman, author of Out of Egypt and False Papers

Jacket design by ANNE FINK

palgrave macmillan

About José F. A. Oliver


José F. A. Oliver

“Here we are dealing with a talent of his own league, a poet of complete and utter dignity, an author of rare earnest. Oliver gives words a weight of their own – or captures them in their unique sense – so that their content is transported with the lightness of butterfly wings.”

Fritz J. Raddatz, Die Zeit, Germany

“The poet frames his lyric with Spanish song, allowing his beautiful voice to be immersed in melancholy, striking an almost sacred tone.”

Katja Möhrle, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany

“Here, where meaning, melody, and image flow together in one form – anchored in the voice, in the body of the voice – the poem promises triumph and permanence.”

Joachim Sartorius, Die Welt, Germany

“José Oliver is no mere writer of verse, no measurer of worlds. He is a poet and is himself measured by the world until the two become one in a realm of vision and sound. His poetry is rooted there and grows towards us, as is only the case with the great poets: one recognizes them in their language”

Christoph W. Bauer, Der Standard, Austria

“An extraordinary poet!”

Fokus, Germany

“How does a great poem develop? With a light and scattered heart. Seeing comes easy, and the observant is also the creative. Images. Images structure time and provide its form. Most importantly, one listens critically and in this contrapoint there is resistance, resistance to casual language and defiance of belief in the first sounds. There is courage to challenge and therefore repeat them; listening, listening until rhythm and the sequence of images align. This kind of listening is also a command upon the reader […] With Oliver this is anything but experimentation – near to or beyond reality. He sees precisely, hears precisely, and discovers the unheard – the unheard of – word to deliver consensus to language and innermost experience. […] Oliver sounds out his words to give them back the tone which they had lost, revealing hidden meanings. José Oliver’s poetry is unique among the works of contemporary writers in Germany. […] Anybody, who looks in present day poetry for music, for the linguistic and aesthetic experiment, for harmony between breath and image, for sound-crystals, will be amply rewarded.”

Joachim Sartorius, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany

Audiovisual fine-tuning is a necessary prerequisite to savor the poetry of José Oliver. His poems are “visible sounds” put to paper by the mouth’s eye […] Oliver provides his cure for our media-driven world: deriving new actions from word combinations in pictures: decluttering the mind and memory of spent images.”

Wendelinus Wurth, Badische Zeitung, Germany

“No other contemporary German-language poet possesses such a mobile and displaceable sense for the power of German semantic development as does José F.A. Oliver: writing as though language were not a narrowly defined terrain with irrefutable rules and regulations. His passion for neologisms, word hybrids, strange pairings, and irascible proximities has – for more than ten years – been inexhaustible. ”

Beatrix Langner, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Switzerland

“An interpreter of two worlds: José Oliver, one of the most significant contemporary German-language poets.”

El Mercurio, Santiago de Chile


“Oliver’s poetry is magical and calls to us all. Not simply those who read him, but those who hear his words.”

El Sol, Lima, Perú


“The melding of styles and traditions which characterizers Oliver’s work is less a new synthesis than it is a conscious exploration of old, hidden consensus, all the more as his poetry moves in a bilingual context which lends its totality a unique impetus.”

Nelson Ascher, Folha de São Paulo, Brazil

Artículos / Crónicas