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Ann Cotten  [ USA ]

Biography

Guest 2010, 2012.

Bibliography

Fremdwörterbuchsonette

Edition Suhrkamp

Frankfurt/Main, 2007

Nach der Welt

Die Listen der Konkreten Poesie und ihre Folgen

Klever

Wien, 2008

Das Pferd. Elegie

SuKuLTuR

Berlin, 2009

Florida-Räume

Suhrkamp

Frankfurt/Main, 2010

Ann Cotten was born in 1982 in Ames, Iowa. When she was five, she moved with her parents to Vienna and began learning German. English, which was spoken at home, and German, with which she discovered the world, became two different sorts of mother tongue. In 2006 she finished her studies of German Language and Literature with a dissertation on the use of lists in concrete poetry.

After having appeared at one or two poetry slams and having had her poems and prose published in various literary journals and anthologies, she published her first collection of poems, »Fremdwörterbuchsonette« (tr: Sonnets with Foreign Words from the Foreign Word Dictionary) in 2007. Ann Cotten describes the traditional form of the sonnet – two four-line verses and one three-line verse, in which she finds her own dynamic structure by varying the form throughout the 78 numbered double sonnets in the collection – as a »beautiful machine«. The foreign words serve on the one hand as the starting point, but also help as an organising principle. »Die Zeit« wrote: »Ann Cotten is the new face of German poetry: still a little pale and fuzzy at the edges.« Her language combines noble expression with slang: the tone is at times laconic, at other times furious. She breaks grammar rules, is impudent and uncompromising, ignores standard syntax, and appropriates language and text forms. Her role models might include Shakespeare, Hölderlin, Eichendorff and Patti Smith. One sonnet begins: »To rage against beauty is my duty as a girl.« Ann Cotten’s book »Florida-Räume« (2010, tr. Florida Rooms) is a collection of disparate texts in which she experiments with language and form. The fictional authors of the texts are various beings who have composed their poems, essays and stories at the behest of an ad placed by an unknown power. Most recently, Cotten was involved in the merve-volume »Helm aus Phlox – Zur Theorie des schlechtesten Werkzeugs« (2011, tr. Phlox Helmet – On the Theory of the Worst Tool), in which, together with four other poets, she dedicates herself playfully to a wide number of poetic problems: from »Studies on the panic of poetic practice« to »The grammar of thought«.

Since 2008, Cotten has performed regularly with authors Monika Rinck and Sabine Scho as the »Rotten Kinck Schow« in Austria and Germany. This summit of female poets combines lyrical experiments with theoretical digressions and one can imagine them as being »surrounded by a dense blizzard that, if one can have any faith in such things, is blowing roughly in a circle«. Ann Cotten was awarded the Austrian Reinhard-Priessnitz-Prize in 2007 and in 2008 she won the Clemens-Brentano-Prize for Literature from the city of Heidelberg. She lives as a writer and translator in Berlin.

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