Rob Lewis

© Rob Lewis


Raphael Urweider  [ Switzerland ]

Raphael Urweider was born in Bern in 1974, as the son of the Swiss author Andreas Urweider, and studied philosophy and German philology at the University of Fribourg. A graduate of the Swiss Jazz School in Bern, he composed the music for, among other things, Elfriede Jelinek’s »Sportstück« (1998, Eng. Sports Play, 2012), in 2003. As a vernacular rapper he has produced four albums with the hip-hop group LDeeP, frequently using word games in his texts.

A first book of poems, »Guten Tag Herr Gutenberg« (1999, tr: Good Day, Mr. Gutenberg), was followed a year later by a poetry collection, »Lichter in Menlo Park« (tr: Lights in Menlo Park), in which Urweider again indulged his fascination with the beginnings of modern science, such as the invention of printing, and discovered an »instance of inspired recreation of the world . . . shared by poetry« (»Berliner Zeitung«). The »Süddeutsche Zeitung« pointed out that despite his penchant for corny jokes and word games Urweider plants minor irritations in his poems that interrupt the flow creating tangled »maelstroms of meaning«, before the reader is once again swept along by the poetic current. After being awarded the Leonce-und-Lena-Preis in 1999, which is considered the most important prize for young authors of lyrical poetry in German-speaking countries, »Lichter in Menlo Park« was selected as the best book of the year by the Swiss Schillerstiftung, among others. His poetry book, »Das Gegenteil von Fleisch« (2003, tr: The Opposite of Flesh), which won him the Clemens Brentano Young Authors’ Prize, was praised in reviews as a further evolution, in particular because it showed that Urweider had found a balance between grace and pain. Four years later he experimented in »Alle deine Namen: Gedichte von der Liebe und Liederlichkeit« (2008, tr: All Your Names: Poems of Love and Debauchery) both semantically and phonetically with all the »possible meanings a term can have … creating entirely new images as a result« (Walter Fabian Schmid). His most recent work »Es geht fast immer ein Wind« (2015, It’s Almost Always Windy), a chain poem co-written with Japanese poets and the Swiss author Klaus Merz, resulted from a poetry gathering held to commemorate the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Japan.

As a translator, Urweider has recast »Der Keeper bin ich« (2012, tr: I Am the Goalkeeper), a vernacular novel by his fellow countryman Pedro Lenz, into High German, translated the Indian lyricist Meena Kandasamy’s »Ms Militancy« (2010) into German, and written the Bern-German version of »Mi lieb gstöört Vättu« (tr: My Dear Crazy Dad) a theater piece by German author Paula Fünfeck that was staged in 2016 at the Schlachthaus Theater Bern. Urweider has been the president of the Swiss Autorenverband (Authors’ Association) since 2012.


Lichter in Menlo Park, 2000

Das Gegenteil von Fleisch, 2003

Alle deine Namen, 2008

Meena Kandasamy: Fräulein Militanz [Als Übersetzer], 2014

Es geht fast immer ein Wind, 2015