Walther Petri
(Germany, 1940)   
Walther Petri

Walther Petri was born in Leipzig and has been living as an independent author in Berlin since 1980. Petri is a versatile artist, but most widely known as a poet for children. He has received prizes for various kinds of publications.

As a publisher, Petri is responsible for the DERDIEDASBUCH, a children’s book which won nationwide fame.

In his poems for children, Petri deals with the themes that are also the great themes of adult literature. Next to love, injustice, the destruction of nature, major themes in his poems are language and poetry itself. In words that evoke the reader’s own experiences and associations, Petri talks about the genesis of a poem, the miracle of language. In his poem ‘I shudder even now.’ the miraculous link between the matter of language – letters, words, sounds – and the things it refers to – tangible or intangible parts of reality – is presented in a remarkably graphic manner.

The deceptively simple poem ‘Memento vivere’ shows the reader – child or adult – how an image picked up by a person leads to reflection and the philosophical question about the meaning of life. ‘How do memories work’ and ‘How does language work in love’ are questions dealt with by Petri in a similarly graphic way. His language is poetic, full of word-play, and imaginative in a way that approaches the young reader as a grown-up, while reviving in the grown-up reader the contemplative child.

© Monique de Waal (Translated by Ko Kooman)

[Walther Petri took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2001. This text was written on that occasion.]

On Lyrikline you can find additional information (in German) about Walther Petri and hear him read his poems.


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