22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Lutz Seiler

Lutz Seiler was born in Gera, Thuringia, in 1963. Following an apprenticeship in the construction sector he worked as a carpenter and bricklayer, and later studied German Language and Literature in Halle and Berlin. He was co-editor of the literary journal »moosbrand« from 1994-1999. Although his first collection of poems »berührt/geführt« (1995; t: touched/guided) went largely unnoticed, he became known as one of the most significant contemporary German poets through the following books, »pech & blende« (2000; t: misfortune & aperture) as well as »vierzig kilometer nacht« (2003; t: forty kilometres night). He was awarded a succession of prizes including the Kranichstein Literature Prize and the Anna Seghers Prize, the Ernst Meister Prize, the Bremen Literature Prize, the Prize of the SWR Best Book List and the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize awarded for an extract from his prose piece »Turksib«.

Ancestry and the location of writing have special meaning for the poet, editor and essayist; and create a kind of poetic reservoir for him. Childhood and »homelands«, as an essay from 2001 is entitled, are the subjects of his reflections. A whole archaic world of imagery – concepts like cattle, rock, coal, table, face are all piled up – confronts concrete memory topoi, which refer to his Thuringian ancestral landscape. The title »pech & blende« evokes such concreteness: »Pechblende« is what the miners called the uranium-rich, radioactive ore, to whose mining Seiler’s home village also fell prey. Gagarin, the Soviet outer space hero, becomes a quasi family member in the verse »mutter, vater, gagarin & heike oder« (mother, father, gagarin & heike or). Fragments of the past resurface abruptly in Seiler’s poems, serving as index fossils in history’s deposit mine. Thus, the reader is temporally orientated and transported by means of rhythmic, rhymeless verse in the echo cavities of history and remembrance.

The poems in the volume »vierzig kilometer nacht« (2003) go beyond »german street avenues«, from the ancestral landscape – destroyed by uranium mining – into the historical layering of the regions of Brandenburg and central Germany, and turn towards themes of the present. The essay collection »Sonntags dachte ich an Gott« appeared in 2004 and came to define Seiler’s poetic position. In this book he reports on the »magical spots« and the initiations of his own childhood and adolescence, but also on his experiences as a reader. »Im Falle des Verlusts zu senden an« (t: Send in case of loss) is an essay on Peter Huchels’s notebook, which the poet used as a repository for metaphors in which he organised the raw material of his work within fields of concepts and images. Lutz Seiler, who lives in the Peter Huchel House in Wilhelmshorst, a memorial place near Berlin, has been directing the house’s literary programme since 1997, and carried out research on the poet who edited the important cultural magazine »Sinn und Form« in the GDR. Seiler’s most recent story, »Die Anrufung« (2005) was praised for its »poetic intensity«. His poems have also found recognition abroad, and have been translated into many languages, among them English, French and Italian.
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