The poet Ulf Stolterfoht was born in Stuttgart in 1963. He studied German language and literature and comparative literature in Bochum and Tübingen until 1991. Between 1998 and 2004 he wrote his three-volume magnum opus of »specialized languages« (I-IX, 1998; X-XVIII, 2002; XIX-XXVII, 2004). Critics responded to the self-contained lyrical tone with acclaim.
Stolterfoht’s texts are attributed to the meta-fictional, experimental lyrical tradition of Samuel Beckett and Oskar Pastior. His poetic project fuses, by means of a formalistic method of recycling, mismatched chunks of language from disparate sources – highly specialized languages of the trade and linguistic theory, works from the literary canon, slang and adolescent lingo. In doing so, the compilational nature of writing poetry is highlighted to the point that Kurt Drawert even drew up a »Non author« as creator of the texts. After publication of the second part, Stolterfoht explained in an interview: »I have now read ›The Little Radio Technician‹ books and have written a poem about radio technology and CB radio. Then there’s a section on cattle and pig breeding in the new book: I read East German books on state owned enterprise instructions for pig breeding. So, you know, everything is possible.«
Meanings are constantly questioned in a game of references, innuendos and quotations while being subordinated to rhythmic and phonetic patterns. Internal rhyme functions both provide cohesion and build up rhythm. As acoustic points of departure, morphemes create an »associative brachiation help« (Stolterfoht) along with the structure of sentences, by which he orients himself in his translation of Gertrude Stein’s narrative poem, »Winning His Way / wie man seine art gewinnt« (2005). Most recently, Stolterfoht echoed a work by the Argentine writer Juan Filloy in his »traktat vom widergang« (2005) which he wrote »less with the help of a dictionary than through the machinery of echoes repeated in German and in accordance with the rules of chaff«, as he wrote in the afterword.
Stolterfoht has been awarded many prizes for his work as well as grants: after the bestowal of the »open mike« in 1994 he received several prizes for young writers, including the Ernst Meister Prize to foster talent, plus grants from the Berlin Senate, the federal states of Niedersachsen and Baden-Württemberg, the foundation Preußische Seehandlung, the Christine Lavant Poetry Prize, the Anna Seghers Prize, and recently, the Alfred Gruber Prize. He currently holds a residency at the Villa Massimo in Rome. The father of three children, he has been living and working as a poet and translator in Berlin since 1994. A long, ethnological, seemingly autobiographical poem, »holzrauch über heslach« (Ü: wood smoke over heslach), is to be published in the near future.
© international literature festival berlin