Durs Grünbein Portrait
© Hartwig Klappert

Guest 2004, 2005, 2010, 2012.


Grauzone morgens
Frankfurt a. M., 1988

Frankfurt a. M., 1991

Vom Schnee
Frankfurt a. M., 2003

Aroma – Ein römisches Zeichenbuch
Berlin, 2010

Koloß im Nebel
Berlin, 2012

Durs Grünbein [ Germany ]

Durs Grünbein was born in 1962 in Dresden. In 1985 he moved to East Berlin, where he began studying Theatre Studies. He soon decided to become a writer. He concerned himself – auto-didactically – with quantum physics, neurology, philosophy, a little Ludwig Wittgenstein, the Frankfurt School and the French Structuralists. He was involved in various journals, publishing and exhibition projects in collaboration with painters, photographers and performance artists. In 1986 he met Heiner Müller, who introduced him to Siegfried Unseld. In 1988 Grünbein's first collection of poems appeared, »Grauzone morgens« (tr: Grey Zone in the Morning), in Suhrkamp Verlag. The poems, from 1985-88, express an authentic impression of life in the urban centres of the GDR in sober snapshots. In 1991 he published the acclaimed collection »Schädelbasislektion« (tr: Subcranial Lesson), which has as its theme the time before, during and after the fall of the Wall. With clarity of vision, polished diction and cerebral motifs, he dissects the seat of thought. In »Falten und Fallen« (1994, tr: Folds and Traps) Grünbein further explores his poetic concept of analytical lyricism as the bridge between language and the body: »Ideally, a poem encourages thought in a series of physiological short circuits. Each discharge comes immediately after a build-up of energy, and vice versa. The energy for this provides a complex, which can only be inadequately described as a »body« because it goes much deeper under the skin.«

In 1995 Grünbein was awarded the Peter-Huchel-Prize for Poetry and, as the youngest author to date, the Georg-Büchner-Prize. In his recent poetry collections he has been increasingly concerned with a formal and thematic dialogue with the great thinkers and poets of world literature.

For example, »Vom Schnee« (2003, tr: Of Snow) is a portrait of the philosopher René Descartes, in the form of an epic poem consisting of 24 strictly composed chapters. Grünbein has in addition published several collections of essays as well as new translations of classical dramas. In 2003 he won the Friedrich-Nietzsche-Prize, the first non-philosopher to have done so. In addition to many other awards, he won the Friedrich-Hölderlin-Prize in 2005, and both the Pier-Paolo-Pasolini-Prize and the Berlin Literature Prize of the Prussian Seehandlung Foundation in 2006. He has been a member of the Pour le Mérite order since 2009. His book »Aroma – Ein römisches Zeichenbuch« (tr: Aroma – A Book of Roman Sketches) was influenced by his time spent in Rome in 2009 on a grant from the Villa Massimo: it is a kaleidoscope of poems and prose sketches.

His work, which as well as collections of essays and poetry also includes contributions to catalogues and an opera libretto, has been translated into many languages. Durs Grünbein lives in Berlin.

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