Lütfiye Güzel

Portrait Lütfiye Güzel
© Ben Knabe

Lütfiye Güzel was born in Duisburg-Hamborn in 1972. She grew up speaking Turkish and German in the Marxloh district. After studying for a few semesters at the University of Duisburg, she became a freelance poet and author.

In her texts, poems, and short prose, she reflects on existential themes such as origin, loneliness, and poverty, which she embeds in everyday observations at social hotspots in the Ruhr area. These texts about the Ruhr rust belt, with their frank tone are often seen to follow in the footsteps of Charles Bukowski or William Carlos Williams or are associated with the »Social Beat« of the 1990s. Initially, Güzel distributed her work as leaflets or as stickers, and published them in various literary and city magazines. Her first two books, »Let’s go Güzel!« and »Herz-Terrorist« (»Heart-terrorist«, 2013) were published in a small Duisburg publishing house in 2012. Güzel demonstrates her mastery of small form and the two books resonated greatly with the public and the press. After the third volume »Trist olé!« (tr: Dreary olé!), whose texts are also shaped by the basic tone of disillusion in Duisburg, Güzel said goodbye to conventional publishing houses and, since 2014, has published her novellas, poems, and monologues under her own label Go-Güzel-Publishing. Güzel’s novel »Oh, No!« was published in 2016. This novel is again set in the place of her birth: »Here was Duisburg. Marxloh. […] The police officers no longer dared to go in there. Only the rats, they said. People who woke up every day, went to school, went to work, […] stole, fought, hit, cheated, helped, jumped, sneaked, pressed, oppressed, died, rested, bought flowers, rushed, married, bought, slept, everyone and everything rats.« Her limited edition leaflet »Elle-Rebelle« (2017; tr: She Rebel) was followed by »Nix Meer« (2018; tr: Nothin’ [to] Sea). The long poem is dubbed as an incident about melancholy and »Weltschmerz« (universal pain) of a poetic »I«. Most recently, Güzel published her volume of poetry »Dreh-Buch« (2019; tr: Screen-Play). The work is an arrangement of 50 fragmentary texts intended to serve as outlines for a screenplay. The work includes comments, scraps of monologues, stage instructions, and observations.

In addition to her work as a writer and poet, Güzel leads poetry workshops at schools and museums. For her work, she was awarded the first ever Fakir Baykurt Culture Prize by the city of Duisburg in 2014 and the Ruhr Literature Prize in 2017. The Germanist Hannes Krauss praised the outstanding feature of Güzel’s work as »non-conformity – with norms, conventions, customs and expectations«. In 2016, Güzel was the city writer-in-residence in Cologne-Mülheim. She lives in Duisburg and Berlin.