Whether this Wednesday evening, there the 46th Days of German-language Literature be opened when the weather is not so good (20, 21 degrees, rain showers), one or the other reminiscent of old times? For example the very first competition in 1977, which the poet Gert Jonke from Klagenfurt won?
At that time, Sigrid Löffler judged in the Austrian “Spiegel” counterpart “Profil”: “An undignified reading competition in which one fell by the wayside – literature – and one benefited – the Suhrkamp publishing house. Three little horses from the Suhrkamp stable (Jonke, Fröhlich, Laederach) placed best, one little horse (Struck) crashed sensationally – stable owner Unseld will be able to congratulate himself.”
Karin Struck had failed with her text and was justifiably outraged by Marcel Reich-Ranicki’s verdict, who judged her prose a “crime” and asked the group: “Who cares what the woman thinks, what she feels while Is she menstruating?” That was a long time ago and no longer conceivable today.
Monika Helfer performed twice
Reich-Ranicki was less wrong in his assessment, which contradicted Löffler, that reading in Klagenfurt was many things rolled into one: “A festival of literature. A competition in which prizes are distributed. A poets market. A kind of exchange. A work conference. A literary fashion show.”
That hasn’t changed much to this day. The comparison of texts was often up for debate, namely that literature cannot be listed like at a sporting event. Despite this insight, over the past 45 years people have often complained about how little good what has been presented is. Yes, whether one shouldn’t abolish this second- to third-rate competition, because of literature festival, poets’ market or fashion show.
But a look at the respective years proves that many greats or future greats of German-language literature opened up in the ORF studio.
Tellkamp won in 2004
For example, when Rainald Goetz slashed his forehead in 1983, Monika Helfer and Martin Mosebach were there, among others; when Birgit Vanderbeke won in 1990, WG Sebald also had an appearance; when Monika Helfer started a second time in 1999, Thomas Kapielski, Peter Stamm and Terézia Mora, who won and a few years later became the Georg Büchner Prize winner, read.
And in 2004 Uwe Tellkamp received the Bachmann Prize, and the enthusiastic words of Iris Radisch, who chaired the jury at the time, are still ringing in our ears. Because of the literary abundance and overflow in Tellkamp’s text, she felt “watered like a flower.”
From this 2022 year, which is initially only known to literary circles, future greats again and “Suhrkamp-Horses” come out. On Wednesday the writer Anna Baar will hold the opening speech and a lot will be drawn to determine who will read when. It starts on Thursday at 10 a.m. and can also be seen live on 3 Sat for 17 hours until Sunday.