22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Dieter M. Gräf

Portrait Dieter M. Gräf
© Hartwig Klappert

Dieter M. Gräf was born in Ludwigshafen/Rhine in 1960. He began writing poems at fifteen, and later worked as a journalist while studying German, Political Science and Philosophy in Mannheim. In 1985 he published the collection of poems »mein vaterland« (t: my home country), the first of several hand press publications. Alongside his main endeavours, Gräf also organised various intermedia projects, such as »zuckungsbringer« (t: convulsion bringer) with Thomas Gruber.
Gräf has received numerous grants and prizes for his radical collage-like, deconstructive poetry. 1994 saw the publication of a collection of poems »Rauschstudie: Vater + Sohn« (t: Study in intoxication/noise: Father + Son). The title aptly identifies Gräf’s characteristic treatment of language as working with the sounds of language, effect of meaning on the borderline to noise, and as sensual intoxication produced by words. In doing so, his preferred stylistic device is enjambement which splits words without using hyphens and makes visible their material character transplanting them from their usual frame of reference to a range of different contexts. One year after being awarded the Joseph Breitbach Prize of Rhineland-Palatinate, Gräf received the Leonce and Lena Prize. In 1997 a second volume, »Treibender Kopf« (t: Drifting head) was published followed shortly afterwards by »Westrand« (2002; t: Western fringe). In these works, Gräf makes use of experiences from numerous journeys abroad, including trips to India, Los Angeles and the Sinai Desert, to lend new perspectives to Western myths such as the legend of Barbarossa, the Hermann Battle and the Red Army Faction. As with his earlier works, the volume is provided with a substantial appendix, combining secondary sources with personal experience, thus dispelling a number of clichés. In a joint exhibition with Margret Eicher entitled »Tussirecherche« (2000; t: Bimbo investigation), Gräf’s artistic principle was made visual. Here, the artists undermine the aesthetics of advertising, infiltrating familiar typographies, logos and slogans with foreign content. »Gräf instills quasi-computer viruses within a closed system; in other words, small bombs, small sources of disruption, which do indeed have an impact if one gets into the texts … They demonstrate the utmost potential of lyrical speech and as such also of communication.« (Klaus Wiegerling)
Gräf’s aesthetic principle which seeks out beauty – even transcendence – in creative confrontation also comes to the fore in his newly edited anthology of poems »Das leuchtende Buch. Die Welt als Wunder und Gedicht« (2004; t: The illuminated book: The world as wonder and poem«). The book is a collection of 150 poems from world literature that focus on the force of the visionary, faith in the divine and the power of creativity. His latest publications are the bilingual (German-English) selection of poems »Tousled Beauty« (2005) and the CD »Taifun« (2005/06; t: Typhoon), a collaboration with the composer Volker Staub. Having lived in Cologne for fifteen years, Gräf now lives in Berlin.

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