José F. A. Oliver, author and poet, was born to an Andalusian Gastarbeiter (guest worker) in 1961 in Hausach in Kinzigtal. He studied Romance Linguistics, German Language and Literature and Philosophy at the Albert-Ludwigs-University in Freiburg. In 1987 he published »Auf-Bruch« (tr: Break Out), his first collection of poems. He returned to Hausach at the same time, and has remained there since then, with the exception of numerous stays abroad.
The collision of his Spanish origins with his adopted home in the Black Forest has had a fundamental influence on the author’s style; he describes himself rather as a »Black Forest Andalusian« than as a »Spanish Hausacher«. His rare familiarity with both the musicality of his parents’ language and with the Alemannic dialect of the Kinzigtal have had a particular impact on his innovative and unconventional treatment of the German language. The need to explore semantic and spatial borders can also be seen in his writing – wrestling words away from their usual usage to assign them a new, sentimental-instinctive meaning – a wish which, in Olvier’s syntax, is expressed as »w:orte« (tr: words; Orte means »places«). This search for an intimate, innovative and at the same time ancient language which characterises Oliver’s style seems to have its source in the desire for an identity, which so often accompanies a double cultural socialisation. He has been acclaimed as an »interpreter of two worlds« (»El Mercurio«), as »a poet in the conflicting space between Spain and Germany« (»La Jornada«). His colleague Ilija Trojanow described him in an introduction to the première of his essay collection »Mein andalusisches Schwarzwalddorf« (2007, tr: My Andalusian Black Forest Village) as a »nomadic Heimat poet« who knows exactly »how comprehensible the entire world and how elusive the neighbouring valley can seem«. Oliver likes to accompany his readings with singing and guitar; he is familiar with the art of Cante jondo. »Here where meaning, music and images come together in one form, which is anchored in the voice, in the body of the voice, poetry promises to overcome and to endure«, Joachim Sartorius concluded. Oliver’s latest publication was the poetry collection »fahrtenschreiber« (2010, tr: journeywriter).
José F. A. Oliver started a literature festival in his home town and present residence of Hausach: LeseLenz, which will take place for the 13th time this year. In 1996 he was awarded the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize and in 2007 was recognized with the Baden-Württemberg Cultural Prize. In 2009 he received the Thaddäus-Troll-Prize.