September 23, 2014

Alfred Kolleritsch

Alfred Kolleritsch [Austria]

Born in Brunnsee in the state of Styria, Austria on February 16, 1931, Alfred Kolleritsch grew up to become a grammar school teacher in Graz from 1964-1993. He was also the founding member of the Graz cultural center, “Forum Stadpark,” which began in 1959, and of which Kollertisch became the president in 1968.

     The poet began his career with the 1972 fiction, Die Pfirsichtöter, followed by another fiction in 1974, Die grüne Seite. He published his first collection of poetry, Einübung in das Vermeidhare (Studying the Avoidable) in 1978. Several more collections of poetry followed: Im Vorgeld der Augen (In the Forecourt of the Eyes, 1982), Absurz ins Glück (Nosedive to Happiness, 1983), and Augenlust (Eyes’ Delight, 1986).

     A third volume of fiction, Allemann appeared in 1989. Other poetry collections appeared in 2001, 2004, and 2006. Kolleritsch received several awards for his work, including the Petrarca Prize (1978), the Georg Trakl Prize (1987) and the Horst Bienek Prize for Poetry (2005).

     In 1960 he co-founded Austria’s most influential literary magazine, manuskripte.

     Kolleritsch is also the author of film scripts, radio texts and children’s books.

     In 2007 Shearsman Books published a selection of his poetry in English, Selected Poems, translated by Iain Galbraith.


Einübung in das Vermeidhare (Graz-Vienna: Reisdenz Verlag / Literaturverlag Droschl, 1978); Im Vorgeld der Augen (Graz-Vienna: Literaturverlag Droschl, 1982); Absurz ins Glück (Graz-Vienna: Literaturverlag Droschl, 1983); Augenlust (Graz-Vienna: Literaturverlag Droschl, 1986); Gegenwege (Graz-Vienna: Literaturverlag Droschl, 1991); Zwei Wege, mehr nicht (Graz-Vienna: Literaturverlag Droschl, 1993); In den Tälern der Welt (Graz-Vienna: Literaturverlag Droschl, 1999); Die Summe der Tage (Salzburg-Vienna: Jung und Jung, 2001); Brefreiung des Empfindens (Graz-Vienna:Literaturverlag Droschl, 2004); tröstliche parallelen (Graz-Vienna: Literaturverlag Droschl, 2006)


Selected Poems, Iain Galbraith, trans. (Exeter, United Kingdom: Shearsman Books, 2007)

Where were you
when it happened;
didn’t you know
that the gravedigger
spoke of the new year,
of the rapacious macadam,
of the old woman
that one puts on top of a man
who’s already on his back?

I remember the date
on which I should have called a friend to say,
“Insanity is on the march,
the house won’t be torn down,
the fear of death sets the wedding table.”

He would have said something
You’re silent;
the game’s up

—Translated from the German by Milne Holton and Herbert Kuhner
(from Einübung in das vermeidbäre, 1978)

When one writes
the doors don’t close,
one question sticks to another,
unfolds from the next one.

That’s how harmony forces its way in,
like ice spreading through steel,
and one feels the warm trickle
all around.

Then the eyes ache,
then one destroys what one loves,
then goodness is a stranglehold,
then one writes in a vacuum,
or says,
“Only up to the margin of the heart.”

That’s what one says to you,
and one has nothing but a hand
to hide behind.

—Translated from the German by Milne Holton and Herbert Kuhner
(from Einübung in das vermeidbäre, 1978)

Poems reprinted from Milne Holton and Herbert Kuhner, Eds. And Trans., Austrian Poetry Today (New York: Schocken Books, 1985).

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