The language Ulrike Draesner spoke on returning to her native Munich in 1984, after a year spent studying at Oxford University, was a “hybrid hotchpotch of throttled Bavarian, moribund Silesian, and High German”. This potpourri, she realised, following her immersion in the very different world of English language and culture, was her own mother-tongue.
In the light of this experience she began to write: not to celebrate a homecoming, but in search of new departures, tensions, possible meetings. After completing a doctoral thesis on intertextuality in Wolfram von Eschenbach’s epic poem Parzival at Munich University, Draesner left academia in 1993 to write full time. Her first volume of poetry, gedächtnisschleifen (Memory loops), appeared to considerable acclaim in 1995. As well as subsequent collections of poetry, she has published novels, stories, essays, translations and radio plays. She has received numerous awards for her work, most recently the Solothurner Literature Prize (2010). She lives in Berlin.
Ulrike Draesner is an erudite poet, well read not only in literature and cultural theory, but in the natural sciences, linguistics, anthropology and history, and yet the luminous complexity of her poems derives precisely from their robust refusal of intellectual specialisation. Instead they favour a reading experience that explores a blending of faculties and senses, or more properly, an exchange between writer and reader that enacts the process by which our various modes of encountering the world cut and merge to form the dense and sociable space of a poem – investigating the loops and elisions of memory, the suggestive tonality of syllabic-sequence, the rhythms of colour and idiom.
Draesners’ poems are charged with a delicious, inquisitive restlessness. Visually acute, they are nonetheless quick to discover the manifold aural, tactile and aromatic associations of an image, rather than merely savouring its aptness or architectonic exactitude: “the spars of the roof like oars, like knives/ crossed. why believe in an image, not/ in another thing? in the pear scent/ in scent of wasps, wapses, as/ people said someplace, stuck-at-homes/ with their native proof”.
gedächtnisschleifen, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt/M., 1995
anis-o-trop, Rospo Verlag, Hamburg, 1997
für die nacht geheuerte zellen, Sammlung Luchterhand, Munich, 2001
kugelblitz, Luchterhand Verlag, Munich, 2005
berührte orte, Luchterhand Verlag, Munich, 2008
Lichtpause, Volk & Welt, 1998
Mitgift, Luchterhand Verlag, Munich, 2002
Spiele, Luchterhand Verlag, Munich, 2005
Vorliebe, Luchterhand Verlag, Munich, 2010
Reisen unter den Augenlidern, Ritter Verlag, Klagenfurt/Vienna, 1999
Hot Dogs, Luchterhand Verlag, Munich, 2004
Richtig liegen: Geschichten in Paaren, Luchterhand Verlag, Munich, 2011
Zauber im Zoo. Vier Reden von Herkunft und Literatur, Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen, 2007
Schöne Frauen Lesen, Luchterhand Verlag, Munich, 2008
William Shakespeare: To change the subject. Radikalübersetzungen der Shakespearesonette, Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen, 2000
Gertrude Stein: The First Reader, Ritter Verlag, Klagenfurt/Vienna, 2001
H.D.: Hermetic Definition/Heimliche Deutung, Urs Engeler Editor, Weil am Rhein / Basel, 2006
Louise Glück: Averno, Luchterhand Verlag, Munich, 2007
Louise Glück: Wilde Iris, Sammlung Luchterhand, Munich, 2008
Beziehungsmaschine, Bayerischer Rundfunk, 1998
dieser Bottich, ach, das Ich, Bayerischer Rundfunk, 1998