Published in 2019 by the Waywiser Press, My German Dictionary won the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, judged by Charles Wright. As a manuscript, the collection was a finalist for the Kathryn A. Morton Prize and the Four Ways Books Intro Prize. The book was nominated for the Griffin Prize, and poems from the collection were nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best New Poets.

My German Dictionary is a guide to an idiosyncratic interior country, a map of the experience of absorbing and being absorbed by Central European language, culture, aesthetics, and history. It is a catalogue of small beloved things inflected by massive horrors. The poems are home to and haunted by Franz Marc’s horses, ETA Hoffmann’s tales, the Great War, Bertolt Brecht, Rosa Luxemburg, enchanted bears, Weimar Berlin, and vanished relatives, along with an entire alphabet of mishearings, mnemonics, and valentines for the German language. These are the poems of an historian wrestling with mastery of the unmasterable, the histories in miniature of a poet.

Praise for My German Dictionary

“A magnificent first book of poetry”

Robert Pinsky, Ploughshares

“ [T]hese are wise and brave poems, from a wise and brave hand, A to Z. They go to the heart of the heart of the matter, whatever it is, and wherever it is. [A] beautiful and—it seems to me—necessary book”

from Charles Wright’s foreward

“Hollander is a bridge between historical and political realms and the world of poetry. It is her perception of history and the relevance of the intersections of society, history and art that are wanted in poets today”

Patricia Laurence, American Book Review

“Poem by poem we come to know what it is like to be a ghost […] A testament to [the poet’s] egolessness and easy absorption into the world, there are only a handful of poems that refer to anyone resembling the author. Those that do are animated by acute compassion—and seem to suggest that all worldly tenderness derives from clear-eyed mourning”

Tanya Larkin

“Each poem in Katherine Hollander’s My German Dictionary harnesses a rich universe of invention and allusion. The poems are also aggrieved, melancholy, bemused, and enchanted in their capture of the historical world. The conversations with the great figures labor from ardor and uneasiness”

Sandra Lim

“[B]oth disturbing and soothing, a lullaby reflecting […] beauty and violence…”

Annette Frost, Bostonia


Sugar House Reviews

Tupelo Quarterly

Rain Taxi




Buy My German Dictionary at Waywiser Press: