Helwig Brunner

Graz, Austria

Helwig Brunner was born in Istanbul in 1967. He attended Akademisches Gymnasium in Graz / Styria – where he lives at present – and studied Biology and Music – an interesting combination of subjects, which has been formative for his literary approach. He is the editor of a poetry series at edition keiper in Graz, as well as the co-editor of the literary magazine Lichtungen in Graz. His work has been published in numerous literary magazines (e. g. Lettre Internationale, manuskripte) and anthologies in Europe and elsewhere (e. g. New European Poets, Jahrbuch der Lyrik, Lyrik von Jetzt; all dies hier, Majestät, ist deins: Lyrik im Anthropozän; translations into nine languages). Brunner has published ten books of poetry (most recently Denkmal für Schnee, Berger Verlag, 2015, Die Sicht der Dinge. Rätselgedichte, edition keiper, 2012 and Vorläufige Tage, Leykam Verlag, 2011) and some novels, short stories and essays (most recently Journal der Bilder und Einbildungen, Literaturverlag Droschl, 2017). He has been the recipient of several literary prizes in Austria and Germany.

In 2016 he was nominated for the Lyrikpreis Meran and the Dresdner Lyrikpreis.

Recent contributions to magazines, anthologies and online reviews in English:

  • The California Journal of Poetics (issue 1/2014)

http://www.californiapoetics.org/poems/5630/three-poems-by-helwig-brunner/

http://www.californiapoetics.org/interviews/5474/here-the-branches-root-an-interview-with-austrian-poet-helwig-brunner/

  • no manʼs land (issue 8/2013)

http://www.no-mans-land.org/issue8.htm

  • Four Way Review (issue 3/2013)

http://fourwayreview.com/the-city-by-helwig-brunner-translated-by-monika-zobel/

http://fourwayreview.com/echolocation-by-helwig-brunner-translated-by-monika-zobel/

  • The Adirondack Review (issue XIII/2, 2012)

http://www.theadirondackreview.com/HelwigBrunner.html

  • New European Poets, Graywolf Press, 2008


Helwig Brunner works as a managing director at an environmental planning agency, but first and foremost he is a convinced poet and he states as follows: „It is not profitable, but nevertheless I am mainly a poet.“

This statement, which in its stringency not only exactly outlines the financial situation of poetry as a whole – but also the perception by reviews and critics, illustrates at the same time the emphasis of his writing and his flashing humor, his self-mockery.

For example, readers may come across the following lines:

Small report of the Poeta doctus

Together with seven bleating goats / I climbed up the rock on a mule track / which once was shaped concavely by a glacier. / Then I hootingly rushed down this halfpipe / with the trouser waistband down to my arse / the flaunting ostrich feather of poetry / stuck deeply into my academic wrinkle.

Helwig Brunner is not only a convincing poet, he also represents an overall concept, conditio humana in the best sense: His academic education in the (allegedly) antagonistic fields of natural sciences and art / music provides the poet not only a very special insight into existential conditions, into nature in general, this view is also supported by perceptible clocked pulse, by rhythm: Listen, we have the groove, / poetry scratched out of nothing, we open and close our mouth.

This sharp view of the poet does not close his mind to the limits, which our technic-bound age often disavows: But we search / in microscopes and telescopes / for utopia of different standards / for the one final big coup.

The poet brilliantly analyzes his most recent book of poetry, „Denkmal für Schnee“ (Reihe Neue Lyrik aus Österreich, Berger Verlag 2015): „This is a collection of poems, which appear very existential and at the same time thoroughly reflected. By means of striking images they tell about going and staying, reading and writing, cooking and eating, about foxes, trees and stones and about the disconcerting soundlessness of snowfall. Again and again the poems undertake explorations, which – often also in intertextual connections – even scrutinize the poem itself and the ego behind it.

The question of what poetry may be able to do, even what poetry has to be able to do in order to remain indispensable next to the more mainstreaming literary genre, these poems face with a poetically focussed language, which resolutely points beyond narrative and discursive text levels by consequently abstaining from any handicraft fuss.“

For the poets oeuvre „Denkmal für Schnee“ means a beautiful continuation, a wonderful compendium of deeply moving moments against oblivion, a reference to other writers, an unagitated and non-vain reflecting about writing, a contemplation of the things that be – from quite surprising points of view. We meet banalities provided with images that may surprise, but which are completely logical at the very moment of receiving – that much, that readers have to ask themselves, why they have not noticed so far, that, for example, on a summer evening the dishwasher grinds, as it wanted to chew the plates.

With the magnifying glass of a sharp intellect the simple is focussed the same way like the philosophically elevated – everything done by perfect clocked pulse.