March 9, 2013

Gerhard Kofler

Gerhard Kofler (Italy/Austria)

Photo Born in Bolzano, Italy in February 11, 1949, Gerhard Kofler was a German-language poet growing up among South Tyroleans, people from Trentino, Vienna and Napoli, as an Italian citizen. In 1952 his parents and he moved to Bressanone.

     At Innsbruck and Sulzburg, Kofler studied German philology and Romance languages, receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Literature in 1999.

     Kofler lived in Vienna as a writer, where he was literary critic and secretary general of the Grazer Autorinnen Autoren Versammlung (writers union founded in the Austrian town of Graz in 1973). He wrote his poetry and essays in Italian and German.

     He published 13 books of poetry and a book of short prose, as well as publishing a book of poems in Spanish in 1989.  In 2000 and 2002, he also published poems in Neapolitan dialect (Momenti napoletani / Neapolitan Moments and Suonno lieggio / Light Sleep). He also translated poems into German by Aldo Palazzeschi, Umberto Saba, Domenico Stamone aand others. He translated H. C. Artmann, Gerald Bisinger, Ernst Jandl, Friederike Mayröocker and Gerhard Rühm into Italian.

     Over the years, Kofler received numerous prizes and scholarships, including the Austrian National Literature Fellowship (1978 and 1998), the Major Project Fellowships in 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2005. In 2001 he served as Writer in Residence at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He also performed widely in Milan, Ireland, Slovakia, Macedonia, Argentina, Switzerland, and the US.

     The poet died of cancer in Vienna on November 2, 2005.


Südtiroler Extravaganzen. Gedichte (Vienna: Frischfleisch, 1981; Neue Südtiroler Extravaganzen. Gedichte (Vienna: Frischfleisch / Südtiroler Autorenvereinigung, 1984); Die Rückseite der Geographie. Gedichte (Vienna: Frischfleisch/Südtiroler Autorenvereinigung, 1988; Mexcaltitán. Poemas españoles / Spanische Gedichte (Vienna: Herbstpresse, 1989); Piccole tazze / Kleine Tassen. Poesie in Grecia. Gedichte in Griechenland (Vienna: Kollektion Dieter Scherr, 1992; Intermezzo a Vienna. 21 poesie / 21 Gedichte (Vienna: Herbstpresse, 1993);  Poesie da calendario / Am Rand der Tage (Innsbruck: Haymon Verlag, 1996); Il posto esposto / Der ausgesetzte Platz (Innsbruck. Haymon Verlag, 1997); L’orologica dei versi / Die Uhrwerkslogik der Verse. 133 poesie - 133 Gedichte (Innsbruck, Haymon Verlag, 1999); Poesie di mare, terra e cielo / Poesie von Meer, Erde und Himmel (Klagenfurt: Wieser Verlag 2003);  Soliloquio d’autunno / Selbstgespräch im Herbst (Innsbruck, Haymon Verlag, 2005); Trilogia nuova antica / Trilogie neu antik (Klagenfurt: Wieser Verlag, 2006)

Coffee Cup (Small)

this is
the happy moment

and encounter
to the heart

the tongue
remains in
the hotness

the fragrant remembrance
of all the friends
of all the loves

I am a man
in short

 —Translated from the German by Geoffrey Howes

To the Horizon

suavi mari magno

as long as the eye exists
the blue persists

on its horizon
every defeat
calms down

still bitter yesterday
the voice
is soothed

\—Translated from the German by Geoffrey Howes


The Shadow of My Hand

I follow the shadow
of my hand
on the paper

while at the same time
they’re sleeping
in Europe


nearby however
the voices
of the students
ant the smell
of grilled

the sky
changes color
but unifies

day and night
in the direction
of the seas
that still
remember us


—Translated from the German by Geoffrey Howes


For further poems by Kofler, go here:

English language translation copyright ©Geoffrey C. Howes.

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