Gerhard Falkner [ Germany ]
Gerhard Falkner was born in Schwabach in 1951. His first collection of poetry »so beginnen am körper die tage« (1981; tr: in this way the days begin on the body) was surprisingly different to 1980s mainstream poetry, expressing a vibrating correspondence between powerfully captured timeliness and classic modernity. In »der atem unter der erde« (1984; tr: the breath beneath the ground) the adaptation of a contemporary awareness which was typical in his work from the beginning was continued through a classic perception of language. This was, so to speak, a countermovement against the lyricism of the new subjectivity and it shows an increase in the richness of form and allusion. Pathos and irony cut through one another, picking up once again on his first collection. In »wemut« (1989; tr: melankoly), his most important volume of poetry until then, which he simultaneously announced to be his last, Falkner emancipated himself increasingly from the general principle of having one's own and unique tone and from the closed form and created new approaches towards both the long poem and towards poetic concepts in general. After this, he lived in Mexico and the USA for some time, publishing the anthology »AmLit. Neue Literatur aus den USA« (1992; tr: AmLit: New Literature from the USA).
In »Über den Unwert des Gedichts. Fragmente und Reflexionen« (1993; tr: On Poetry’s Lack of Value. Fragments and Reflections), Falkner not only attacked the lack of appreciation for poetry, but also attempted – above all using the means provided by post-modern mixed texts – to establish a position for poetry in a post-industrial society. With »X-te Person Einzahl« (1996; tr: Xth Person Singular), he broke from the intention he had declared in 1989. This volume was followed by the long poem »Gegensprechstadt – ground zero« (2005; tr: Counter Speaking City – ground zero) and »Hölderlin Reparatur« (2008; tr: Hölderlin Repair), for which he was awarded the 2009 Peter Huchel Prize. Explaining its decision, the jury praised Falkner’s »capability of expressing a sublime voice in a time of damaged language worlds«. In the novella »Bruno« (2008) he intertwines the story of a writer's failure with the bizarre story of a well-known »problematic bear«. He was also awarded the Kranischsteiner Literary Prize (2008), the August-Graf-von-Platen Literary prize (2009) and the Nuremberg Culture Prize (2009). His bilingual poetry collection »Kanne Blumma« (2009; tr: no flowers) in Franconian dialect and standard German, built new ways to dialectical poetry. He set foot on new territory with his »Der letzte Tag der Republik / The Last Day of the Republic« (2011), on which he cooperated with art film director Reynold Reynolds, dealing with the demolition of the GDR parliamentary building, the Palace of the Republic. He is also working with film in his most recent work, the »Pergamon Poems« (2012), which were a collaborative project with Constantin Lieb and Felix von Boehm. He lives in Weigendorf (Bavaria) and Berlin.
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