Ana Elsner
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Books by Ana

An Introduction to the Life and Times of Poet Ana Elsner


When Ana Elsner was asked by one of her students how she came to be a poet, Elsner said with a wink and a smile:

"While spelunking in the bowels of literature, I stubbed my toe on the gnarly root of a poem, pried it loose and put it in the jar of collected inspiration on the windowsill of my mind. It soon sprouted and migrated to my neo-cortex. There it grew into a rich tissue of images and vocabulary that I tease and whittle into poems for others to stub their toe on."

Who is Ana Elsner?


Ana Elsner is an independent writer, poet, and translator born in postwar Germany and educated in Europe and at Georgetown University with a MA in Linguistics. Elsner's poems are published in seven countries in literary journals and anthologies. They are printed in the original text and in translation.
Ana divides her time between living in the U.S. and in Europe. She is currently working on two poetry manuscripts simultaneously, At Times (in English) and Wenn Erde Atmet (in German).

Multilingual poet and author Ana Elsner was born after World War II in the British sector of the Allied Occupation Zones in Germany. In her teens she lived in and attended school in Rochdale, Lancashire, England and subsequently in Concarneau, Bretagne, France as an ambassador for good will among the youth of postwar Europe. This was arranged through a student exchange program established in the early 1960s. The aim of this program was to help overcome the carryover alienation that still existed at that time between Germany and the former Allied Forces member nations England and France. It proved to be an effective tool for Ana and many others of her immediate generation to establish cross border friendships. This timely exchange program also served to lay the cornerstone for the birth of a Pan-European identity which eventually culminated in the establishment of the The European Union (EU) decades later in 1993.

Elsner's early experience of living in multicultural contexts would greatly influence the course of her life as well as her work as a writer and poet.

"To create true poetry requires hunger and passion, and Ana Elsner has it, in spades."

- Lawrence Ferlinghetti

In the early 1970s Ana Elsner arrived in Washington, D.C. to attend Georgetown University. Between semesters she explored the East Coast. Having embraced cultural diversity from adolescence, it was on a visit to New York City that she decided to make her home in the United States. After earning her Master's degree in Linguistics (Sprachwissenschaft), she taught ESL (English as a Second Language), worked at two large American publishing houses and successfully adapted herself to various business enterprises. Now retired, she pursues her passion for literature and art, and supports a number of humanitarian causes.

Throughout her life Elsner never abandoned her bold and creative writing in the English and the German language. She continues to author broad ranging prose and poetry, typically with a global and watchful perspective. She is a frequent featured speaker at libraries, seminars and other educational venues, and devotes herself to mentoring and encouraging the next generation of poets. Elsner conducts poetry workshops and promotes creative expression in any literary genre.

In addition to writing her own poems and haiku, Ana Elsner is translating the poems of Paul Celan from German into English in an ongoing project.

Elsner voices concerns about the standards of translation, particularly the translation of poetry, "It appears to me that in order to successfully capture the intended nuance and implication of each sequence of words, each line in a poem, and not just a semantic approximation thereof, the translator has to be not just bilingual in the scholarly sense, but has to be bicultural on a level where he / she is experientially rooted in two cultures, and can organically think in both, the original as well as the target language."
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On the purely physical side

Νοῦς ὑγιὴς ἐν σώματι ὑγιεῖ : "Mens sana in corpore sano" - Ana regularly does her twenty laps in the outdoor pool at the UCSF Mission Bay campus. She keeps a swimsuit in her suitcase, ready to jump into any swim-able lake or calm stretch of ocean that she comes across on her travels. Snowshoeing off the beaten path is her favourite winter activity.
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