Gerhard Falkner [Germany]
Gegensprechstadt – ground zero
[Musik: David Moss]
[Ü: Mark Anderson]
Elegien am Rande des Nervenzusammenbruchs
[mit Filmstills von Yves Netzhammer]
[Ü: Ann Cotten]
Romeo oder Julia
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), attracted much attention and polarized opinions with its anachronistic, form-conscious poems that hover between timely reflections of reality and classic modernism. In »der atem unter der erde« (1984; tr. the breath beneath the ground), the contemporary awareness that had characterized his work from the beginning was enhanced by a classic stance toward language. This increase in richness of form and allusion was, in effect, a countermovement against »new subjectivity«, the poetry then in vogue. In »wemut« (1989; tr. melancholy), his most important volume of poetry at the time, which he announced would be his last, Falkner emancipated himself from the general principle of having one’s own, unique tone and from the closed form, as well as created new approaches to the long poem and other poetic concepts.
Following 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 away from the intention he had declared in 1989. This volume was followed by the long Berlin poem »Gegensprechstadt – ground zero« (2005; tr. Counter-Speaking City – Ground Zero), which was performed in the open air on Athens’s Roman Agora with the group MiniMaximum in 2013, and »Hölderlin Reparatur« (2008; tr. Hölderlin Repair), for which he was awarded the 2009 Peter Huchel Prize. In 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 »problem bear«. His bilingual poetry collection »Kanne Blumma« (2009; tr. No Flowers), written in Franconian dialect and standard German, opened new accesses to dialectical poetry. He also explored new territory with »Der letzte Tag der Republik/The Last Day of the Republic« (2011), a collaboration with art film director Reynold Reynolds that deals with the demolition of the GDR parliamentary building, the Palace of the Republic. In collaboration with Constantin Lieb and Felix von Boehm, he produced the five short films »Pergamon Poems« (2012). Falkner’s poetry collection »Ignatien. Elegies am Rande des Nervenzusammenbruchs« (2014; tr. Ignatias. Elegies on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown) begins his collaboration with the Swiss artist Yves Netzhammer, who produced the first short films on Ignatias. His first novel, »Apollokalypse« (2016; tr. Apollocalypse), was longlisted for the 2016 German Book Prize, and his second novel, »Romeo oder Julia« (2017; tr. Romeo or Juliet), was shortlisted.
For his oeuvre, Falkner was awarded the Spycher Prize (2006), the Kranichstein Literature Prize (2008), and the Wolfram von Eschenbach Prize (2014). In 2013, he was the first Fellow for Literature at the newly founded Tarabya Cultural Academy in Istanbul. In 2014, he held a residence stipend at the Villa Aurora in Los Angeles. He lives in Weigendorf and Berlin.
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