Ursula Krechel, born in Trier in 1947, worked for West German radio and newspapers while still studying German Language and Literature, Theatre and Art History. She worked as a playwright for the local theatre in Dortmund and led various theatre projects with young prison inmates before finishing her doctorate at the University of Cologne in 1972. Two years later she made her début with the play »Erika« (1974), which has been translated into six languages. Her first collection of poems, »Nach Mainz« (t: To Mainz), came out in 1977, and subsequently Ursula Krechel published many volumes of poems, essays, prose, plays and radio plays, most recently »Meine Stimme ist mit den Fischen geschwommen« (2004; t: My voice has swum with the fish) for South West German radio. The author harks back to the themes of her story »Der Übergriff« (2001; t: The assault): the different facets of violence, internalised conventions and self censorship. A woman hears a voice in her ear that incessantly shuts her up in a gruff way. She falls silent, travels across the ocean, observes – and writes in order to counter this voice.
While Ursula Krechel’s wide-ranging, highly acclaimed work was initially feminist in its orientation, the themes of her later writings have become broader. Her poems develop through her fulminating and dynamic language, on whose sensuous beauty Friederike Mayröcker has commented: »This is a poetic language from the 21st century – pardon me, if I react so enthusiastically.« In her long poem »Stimmen aus dem harten Kern« (2005; t: Voices from the hard core) Ursula Krechel again pursues, with linguistic mastery and extreme precision and composition, the theme of human violence, which appears to be irrevocably linked to erotic desire and economic ambition. Twelve times twelve poems, each one consisting of twelve lines of verse, create a cycle which follows the tracks of violence over the last three thousand years of human history: from the Trojan War to Europe’s two World Wars, from colonial times to genocide in Africa. »Wäre ein Versuch, nicht zur Deckung zu kommen, Geschichte / Wäre ein Versuch gewesen, der Abhängigkeit zu entkommen …« (»Were there an attempt, not to converge, history / would have been an attempt, to elude dependence…«) It is a war of words, fragments from ancient texts, letters, folk songs, chronicles and war reports, fused to create a great poem.
Krechel has recently published the poem »Mittelwärts« (2006; t: Towards the middle). The author has been awarded grants and prizes, among them the International Eifel Literature Prize (1994) and the Martha Saalfeld Promotional Prize (1994). She was honoured with the distinguished Elisabeth Langgässer Prize for her collected work in 1997. In 2006, she held a residency in Calw, awarded by the Hermann Hesse Foundation. Ursula Krechel, a member of the German PEN centre, teaches as a guest lecturer at various universities and lives and writes in Berlin.
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