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Literature & Fiction - Poetry

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The Roses

ISBN: 9781735461502
Binding: Hardcover
Author: Rainer Maria Rilke & Translated by: N. M. Hoffman
Artist: Gloria Matuszewski & Designer: Elie Colistro
Pages: 64
Trim: 7.5 x 10.5 inches
Published: 06/22/2022

THE ROSES is series of poems by Rainer Maria Rilke in a new translation from the original French by N. M. Hoffman, with images by painter, Gloria Matuszewski. This spectacular tribute book with its gold-lettering & slipcase offers meditative consolation for the unmourned shock of personal losses of our time: Covid, addictions, violence.

THE ROSES, a series of poems by Rainier Maria Rilke, is a gift of solace at its heart offered in a new book by poet, N. M. Hoffman, and painter, Gloria Matuszewski. The book is comprised of Rilke's original French series, LES ROSES, published after his death, in a new English translation, with the atmospheric visual images of California artist, Gloria Matuszewski, that so forcefully heighten the beauty of the text.

The body of the book itself further distinguishes it as an appropriate tribute gift when flowers are simply not enough. THE ROSES is a hardbound volume in red with the artist's painting "Now and Forever" comprising the cover motif and it is slipcased in red with golden lettering. This is a museum-quality work and was designed by Paris designer, Élie Colistro, and printed in France.

The many French poems of famed German-language poet Rainer Maria Rilke have been underserved both in French and in translation. This new book, THE ROSES, endeavors to address that for these 27 of the poet's poems originally written in French, master works of his later life.

In an age requiring so much of it, solace is the main force of these poems. It is a kind of solace that replicates the solace enforced by time, but by means of a cinematographic intimacy with the life of the Rose that startles us from our instant grief.

The Rose is, after all, close to us at every turn, in every season. The poet takes us by the hand into his garden and there we are mesmerized by the personal life of the Rose, its extraordinary elegance, reticence, exoticism. In contemplating the Being of the Rose, the reader endures a grief subsumed into a process that is primordial, even shamanistic, but which is always the provenance of the poet. ​

It is also the provenance of the visual artist who is able to render this intimacy in psychological terms for the mind to grasp through the eyes. In the images supplied for this book by the painter, Gloria Matuszewski, the eerie singularity of the Rose is vivified, a melding of what is spiritual, gestural, and contextual. In Matuszewski's work, the figure of the Rose lives tangentially with everyday life.

In this complicity, the images embrace the complexities of Rilke's formidable roses and give them a solidity that, with the text, provides a grounding for the exorcism of grief. These images have provided the way forward in understanding the poems and, without them, THE ROSES — a tribute and a memorial to those unique individuals we have lost — would never have come into being.


Born in Prague, Rainer Maria Rilke, the renowned German language poet (1875-1926), was fluent in several languages and wrote 400 poems originally in French. The Roses are a late-life series manifesting Rilke's contemplation of mortality. One of these French poems (VII of this translation) is clearly resonant in the German phrase used on the poet's tombstone.

N. M. Hoffman's poems have appeared in U.S., U.K. and Canadian journals and she has given readings at The Frye Art Museum (Seattle), Commonwealth Club (San Francisco), Les Lectures sous L'Arbre (Chambon-sur-lignon, France) and Theatre St. Mark's and Cornelia Street Cafe (NYC). She was the recipient of an Edward Albee Writer's Fellowship and holds a PhD from the Poetics Institute of NYU where she was awarded Carnwath-Calendar Fellowships.

She collaborates frequently with other artists, notably with the painter Gloria Matuszewski (San Francisco) and with the composer Jeffrey Schanzer (who studied with Morton Feldman). Her collaboration with Mr. Schanzer, The Requiem Before the Times of Peace, was performed by The New York Virtuosi Singers at St. Peter's Church and Merkin Hall in NYC.

Ms. Hoffman's prose has appeared in The Wallace Stevens Journal and Theatre Review. The poet is married to Peter Graasbol Schmidt. They live in Manhattan.

The Roses book was designed and overseen in production by French book designer, Élie Colistro, trained in France and at Cooper Union in NYC. Élie has worked with international artists and with distinguished French galleries on their catalogs, with companies on their logos and branding materials, and with Paris art museums on their exhibition materials.