Gerhard Falkner
(Germany, 1951)   
Gerhard Falkner

Gerhard Falkner, born in 1951, is a poet, playwright, essayist and translator. The publication of his first volume of poetry, so beginnen am körper die tage (so begin the days along your body) received enormous critical acclaim, comparable only to the echoes after Grünbein’s appearance ten years later. The volume was followed by der atem unter der erde (the breath beneath the ground) 1984 and wemut in 1989.

A grant awarded by the ‘Literarisches Colloqium’ led to the publication of Berlin -Eisenherzbriefe (Berlin - Iron Heart Letters) in 1986, considered to be an important postmodern text. In 1998 the first comprehensive monograph in English, Voice and Void. The poetry of Gerhard Falkner, by Neil Donahue was published. After several stays in New York, Falkner was made ‘writer in residence’ at the New York University. He has also lived in Berlin, Munich, Amsterdam, London, Rome, San Francisco and many other places. In the early 1990s he spent one year travelling through the United States and Mexico, which brought forth his collection of American poets Am lit.

At present he lives near Nuremberg and in Berlin. Falkner has received numerous awards and scholarships, among others at the ‘Villa Massimo’ (Casa Baldi) and at ‘Schloß Wiepersdorf’ in Brandenburg. In 2003 he took up the prestigious scholarship at ‘Schloß Solitude’ in Stuttgart.

Using essential images, in so beginnen am körper die tage Gerhard Falkner left behind the poetic common sense of the early 1980s that rejected anything but formal experiments and ‘everyday poetry’. He combined formal discipline with a opulent and direct sense of the present, thus preparing the ground, as one of the first of his generation, for a poetry alive with richness and sensuality as well as melancholy and pain, as it then began to gain acceptance from the middle of the 1980s. Falkner’s poems also dealt with the estrangement of the poet, the disappearance of the writer in the background noise of his text and of history. This experience motivated his decision to silence himself, as he announced in 1989 his volume wemut to be his last poetic work.

After publishing in 1995 a selection of earlier, but also several new poems, entitled X-te Person Einzahl (Nth-Person Singular), he broke his resolution with Endogene Gedichte (Endogenous Poems). He writes: “I made a mistake in 1989. I announced that I would not publish any more poetry. The fault was not in the intention, but in its consequences. The announcement became a kind of trademark, it followed me like the Erynnies followed Orestis – however not with mythical force, but as a notorious reflex.”

Nevertheless, this period of disappearance remains a topic in Falkner’s new work, as for example in the poem ‘Kopfmusik’ (Headmusic): “unsere Gedichte werden vergessen / werden, – bleiben wird allein / das Kopfweh / derer, die sie nicht behalten haben” (forgotten will our poems / be, – what will stay only / the headache / of those who did not keep them). One of the most potent poetic voices of his generation, captivating with its powerful imagery as well as its formal structure, this voice will certainly not be forgotten.


1981 Städteförderpreis New York, Deutsches Haus
1987 Bayerischer Staatsförderpreis
2003 Stipendium Schloss Solitude
2004 Schiller-Preis
2006 Spycher Literaturpreis Leuk
2008 Kranichsteiner Literaturpreis
2009 Peter-Huchel-Preis

Publications (selection)
so beginnen am körper die tage. Gedichte (poems), Luchterhand, Darmstadt/Neuwied, 1981
der atem unter der erde. Gedichte (poems), Luchterhand, Darmstadt/Neuwied, 1984
Wehmut. Gedichte (poems), Luchterhand, Darmstadt/Neuwied, 1991
Über den Unwert des Gedichts. Fragmente und Reflexionen, Aufbau, Berlin, 1993
seventeen selected poems (poems), Galrev, Berlin, 1994
X-te Person Einzahl. Gesammelte Gedichte (poems), Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, 1996
Endogene Gedichte (poems), DuMont, Köln, 2000
Gegensprechstadt – ground zero (poem & CD, Music by David Moss), Kookbooks, Idstein, 2005
Bruno. Eine Novelle (prose), Berlin Verlag, Berlin, 2008
Hölderlin Reparatur (poems), Berlin Verlag, Berlin, 2008

On Lyrikline you can find additional information (in German) about Gerhard Falkner and hear him read his poems.
Language: German


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