22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Volker Sielaff

Portrait Volker Sielaff
© Dirk Skiba

Volker Sielaff was born in 1966 in Großröhrsdorf (Lausitz). Since 1990 he has published poetry, essays and reviews in literary magazines, anthologies and daily newspapers, including »manuskripte«, »Diwan«, »Sprache im technischen Zeitalter« and »Der Tagesspiegel«. His poetry has been translated into English, French, Italian, Danish, Czech, Polish, Hungarian and Arabic. In 2003 he published a volume of poetry titled »Postkarte für Nofretete« (tr. Postcards for Nefertiti), in which »he uses precise observations to crystalize everyday happenings into moments of astounding clarity« (Frauke Fentloh, »Berliner Morgenpost«). Sielaff’s sparse use of punctuation has the effect of congealing the endings of lines into moments of stasis, as if to stall further reading. In his second volume of poetry, »Selbstporträt mit Zwerg« (2011; tr. Self-portrait with dwarf), instances in unspectacular poems are decelerated using subdued tones yet survive in the reader’s memory through the poet’s precise observations. His »Glossar des Prinzen« (2015; tr. Glossary of the prince) spans wide thematic and formal territory, ranging from philosophical number poems and love poetry to surrealistic imaginings. Using poetic means, Sielaff unites the real with the contrived, establishing an oeuvre in which literary traditions are perceptible, yet ever more of his own, eminently musical sensibility can take root. In so doing he has restored the once-banned rhyme to German-language poetry. »I then realized that the formal limitations of rhyming can spawn solutions that are sometimes much more ›off the beaten track‹ than paths afforded by free verse. The end rhyme thinks for itself.«

In 2017 Sielaff published his first volume of prose, titled »Überall Welt. Ein Journal« (tr. Anywhere world. A journal), in which he relates his personal observations and undertakings, reflections and experiences in concise and pointed text. Several entries in this journal are furnished with a date; otherwise there is mention of the season to provide temporal orientation. Above all the book comprises Sielaff’s descriptions of his life with a child, its conception, birth, gradual familiarization with the world and acquisition of speech. Also perceptible is that which remains unspoken; the blank spaces in the text and the free yet poetic character of these writings press for no conclusions whatsoever.

In 2007 Sielaff was awarded the Lessing-Förderpreis des Freistaates Sachsen, and in 2015 received an award of honor from the Deutsche Schillerstiftung. In 2009 he published a collection of modern poetry from Taiwan titled »Der Humor der Wolken« (tr. The humor of clouds). He was a member of the advisory board for literature for the cultural foundation of the federal state of Saxony and is a cofounder of Literaturforum Dresden e. V. The author is a cultural journalist and poet and lives in Dresden.