March 14, 2013

Josef Mayer-Limberg


Josef Mayer-Limberg [Austria]
1911-1992

 Born in Limbert in Upper Austria in 1911, Josef Mayer-Limberg moved in Vienna in 1929, making the capitol city his home. There he studied history, art history, and German literature at the University of Vienna, studies which were interrupted by the War. He was conscripted into the Wehrmacht and served on the Russian front and later in Italy.

     At war’s end, he returned to Vienna, his poems Einfahrt (Entry) being highly praised, but unpublished because of wartime shortages of paper. In 1956 Mayer-Limberg moved to Ottakring, a working class district of Vienna, who frequented the areas coffeehouses and cafes in the early 1960s. Like many of the Vienna Group of that period, the poet became interested in dialect poetry, begun in the 1930s by Josef Weinheber and revitalized by the Vienna Group poet H. C. Artmann.

     His own poems in the dialect remained unpublished until 1973, published as fon de möada und de hausmasda; gedichda aus oddagring (About Murderers and Superintendents: Poems from Ottakring). Another collection, eilodung zu de hasmasda: neucha gedichada aus oddagrilng (Invitation to the Superintendents: New Poems from Ottakring) appeared in 1978. He was a member of the Austrian P.E.N. club.

      Although he was chronologically older than the members of the Vienna Group and other experimental poets of the period, Mayer-Limberg’s work clearly identified with the younger generation, and had an influence upon their poetics.
 
 
BOOKS OF POETRY
 
Einfahrt (unpublished); fon de möada und de hausmasda; gedichda aus oddagring (Graz: Styria, 1973); eilodung zu de hasmasda: neucha gedichada aus oddagrilng (Graz: Styria, 1978); Lockwörter: Gedicte (Baden-Wien: G. Grasl, 1988); Ausgewählte Gedichte (Podium, 2011)
 
 
I’m nobody’s fool
I’ve been in the party
for half a century
 
in the days
of franz josef
I marched
On the ring
With my red flag
holding daddy’s hand
I’m nobody’s fool
 
I don’t know
much about marx
crime stories
are more my style
but so what
the party’s my guide
 
and if they tell me
to vote for a baboon
that’s what I’ll do
the party’s my guide
 
I’ve been in the party
half a century
I’m nobody’s fool

 
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one file
two files
four files
 
thousands
and thousands
of files
 
in the
whole
wide
world
 
one civil servant
two civil servants
four civil servants
 
thousands
and thousands
of civil servants
 
in the
while
wide
world
 
one signature
two signatures
four signatures
 
thousands
and thousands
of signatures
 
on thousands
and thousands
of files
 
in the
whole
wide
world
 
one little
two little
four little
 
thousands
and thousands
of fly specks
 
on the
thousands
and thousands
of files
 
with the
thousands
and thousands
of signatures
 
of the
thousands
and thousands
of civil servants
 
in the
whole
wide
world

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