July 23, 2015

Oskar Loerke (Germany) 1884-1941

Oskar Loerke (Germany)

Oskar Loerke was born on March 13, 1884, in Schwetz, West Prussia, now part of Poland. From 1903-1906 he studied history, German literature, philosophy, and music, in Berlin. In 1906 he ended he studies meeting his wife, Clara Westphal.
        From 1908 to 1914 Loerke undertook extensive trips through Germany and France, documenting his travels in diaries. Loerke’s first publication, however, was the story collection Vineta (1907).
        In 1909, he met Mortiz Heimann, an editor at S. Fischer Verlag, developing a long-time friendship with him.

In 1911 the author published his first collection of poems, in Berlin, Wanderschaft. More poems followed in 1916, 1921, 1926, and at regular intervals through the rest of his life. In 1913, he was awarded the Kleist Prize, using the money to travel to Italy and Algiers. 

       From 1910-1917 Loerke was a member of the Berlin-centered “Thursday society” (Donnerstags-Gesellschaft), a group which discussed literature, music, and painting. Also in 1917 the poet joined the staff as an editor at S. Fischer Verlag, there encountering and getting know several of their writers, including Thomas Mann, and soon after, Max Herrmann-Neisse and Walter Rheinermark. 
       During these same years, the author also continued to writer short and longer fiction in volumes such as Der Turnbau (1910), Das Goldbergwerk (1919), Chimärenreiter (1919), Der Prinz und der Tiger (1919), and Der Oger (1921), which, like his poetry, was alternately were influenced by Expressionism and what later would be described as magic realism.
       Between 1920 and 1928 Loerke wrote numerous essays and reviews in the Berliner Börsen-Courier, becoming in the early 1930s a regular contributor to the literary magazine, The Column (Die Kolonne), in which he provided numerous nature poems. In 1926 he became a member of the Prussian Academy of Arts, two years becoming a secretary of the Academy’s Poetry section.   
        In 1933 Loerke was banned from the Academy by the Nazis, but he continued to be involved in the Berlin intellectual life, organizing literary evening as the Berliner Verlag Rabenpresse. Soon after his expulsion from the Academy, moreover, Loerke signed as one of the faithful followers of Hitler, ostensibly to protect his company’s Jewish owner, Samuel Fischer. Soon after he rejoined the politically cleansed German Academy of Literature, but soon retired, although he did publish in one of the Goebbels controlled magazines, Das Reich.
       Nonetheless, Loerke’s poems were banned by the Nazis and the poet became one of the authors, who were described as “internal emigrants,” individuals who virtually disappeared from public life.  
         He died in 1941.


Wanderschaft (Berlin: in the pages of Blauer Abend, 1911); Gedichte (1916, reprinted as Pansmusik (Berlin: S. Fischer, 1929); Die heimliche Stadt (1921); Der längste Tag (Berlin: S. Fischer, 1926); Atem der Erde. Sieben Gedichtkreise, (Berlin: S. Fischer,1930); Der Silberdistelwald (Berlin: S. Fischer, 1934); Der Wald der Welt (1936);  Ausgewählte Gedichte (1938); Kärntner Sommer (1939); Der Steinpfad (1941); Die Abschiedshand. Letzte Gedichte (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 1949); Gesamtausgabe der Gedichte Oskar Loerke. Sämtliche Gedichte (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2010)

For a poem and another bio of Oskar Loerke, go here:



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