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Durs Grünbein

Cyrano or Returning from the Moon

Durs Grünbein
Foto: Durs Grünbein
© Tineke de Lange

Durs Grünbein, born in Dresden in 1962, read Theatre Studies in Berlin, after which he worked as a freelancer writing for various literary magazines. After the Berlin Wall fell, Grünbein travelled the world extensively, visiting Europe, Southeast Asia and the United States. Grünbein currently lectures on Poetics at the Düsseldorf Academy of Fine Arts and lives in East Berlin. His debut volume of poetry published in 1988 was entitled Grauzone morgens and he went on to publish nearly twenty poetry collections, including Vom Schnee oder Descartes in Deutschland (2003), Der Misanthrop auf Capri (2005), Porzellan. Poem vom Untergang meiner Stadt (2005) and Zündkerzen (2017). He is also the author of a collection of essays and opera librettos. He translated the tragedies of Aeschylus and Seneca into German, but also the works of contemporary authors such as Sara Kane, Ted Hughes, Wallace Stevens, Samuel Beckett, John Ashbery and Tomas Venclova.

Awards (Selection):

Peter-Huchel-Prize (1995)
Georg-Büchner-Prize (1995)
Friedrich Nietzsche-Prize (2004)
Friedrich-Hölderlin-Prize (2005)
Literary Prize of the City of Berlin (2006)
Premio Internazionale Pier Paolo Pasolini (Rome, 2006)
Samuel Bogumił Linde Prize (together with Adam Zagajewski, 2009)
Tomas-Tränströmer-Prize (2012)
European Poet of Freedom Award (Gdańsk, 2012)
Premio Internazionale di Poesia (Bologna, 2019)
Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award (2020)

Rights available

About

What is going on? The Americans are abandoning the moon, leaving the earth’s seemingly dead companion to stragglers. Time to recapitulate: On a Sunday afternoon in Berlin, on the airfield of the disused Tempelhof Airport, poet Durs Grünbein makes a momentuous observation.

What if humanity only ever wanted to return from its adventures in space exploration? Yesterday it was the moon, tomorrow it’s Mars and then …? That’s when he encounters Cyrano de Bergerac, the scornful traveller through imaginary planetary realms, a contemporary of René Descartes. He calls to him across the centuries: There is but one sensation – returning home, everything else is an illusion! And suddenly all the floodgates open into space and time and a celebration of being-here begins. Out there the inhospitableness and the craters (named after the heroes of science, the pioneers of space travel) – and down here the fragile elegies of a species that is beginning to realise that it is all alone in the space.

Durs Grünbein has written a new cycle of poems that takes as a starting point longing, the failed efforts at gathering knowledge of a culture of enlightenment that has remained Romantic at its core and that wants nothing but find back to itself, to gaze at the moon as though it was still there.

Praise

»Poet and essayist Durs Grünbein is considered the scholarly poet. In his new volume of poetry he proves his rank once more.« Manfred Papst, Neue Zürcher Zeitung am Sonntag

»Neo-Romantic nostalgia is far from the mind of Durs Grünbein, who is probably the most eloquent, knowledgeable and educated poet in the German-speaking area. […] Those who don’t despise educational travels should entrust themselves to Grünbein and this one here is extremely enlightening, and reasonably priced on top.« Ulrich Greiner, DIE ZEIT

»Far from avant-garde gimmicks the poet relies on the traditional form, his poetry […] encompasses a cosmological unity wherein the somnambulant and the dreamer find the moon their familiar patron saint..« Björn Hayer, Die Tagespost

»In a poetic and analytic way, enthusiastic about education, Durs Grünbein orbits moon and earth. If we try to rotate along we will find pleasure: because the poet enchants us by disenchanting the moon – while still succumbing to its charm.« Simone Dattenberger, Münchner Merkur

Other publications

Jenseits der Literatur/Beyond Literature (2020)

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English world rights (Seagull)

Aus der Traum (Kartei)/From the Dream (Files) (2019)

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France (selection; 17 Muscles)

Zündkerzen/Spark Plugs (2017)

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Italy (selection; Einaudi)

Die Jahre im Zoo/The Years at the Zoo (2015)

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English world rights (Seagull), Sweden (Ersatz)

Vom Stellenwert der Worte/The Vocation of Poetry (2010)

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English world rights (Upper West Side Philosophers)

Die Bars von Atlantis/The Bars of Atlantis (2009)

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English world rights (FSG), Sweden (Ersatz)

Lob des Taifuns/Praise of the Typhoon (2008)

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Previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: France (Voix de Plumes)

Der cartesische Taucher/The Cartesian Diver (2008)

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English world rights (Upper West Side Philosophers), Sweden (Ersatz)

Strophen für übermorgen/Verses for the Day after Tomorrow (2007)

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Previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Italy (Einaudi)

Porzellan/Porcelain (2005)

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English world rights (Seagull)

Der Misanthrop auf Capri/The Misanthrope on Capri (2005)

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Previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Poland (Slowo)

Vom Schnee oder Descartes in Deutschland/On Snow or Descartes in Germany (2003)

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France (Greges), Italy (Einaudi), Sweden (Ersatz); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Greece (Keedros)

Erklärte Nacht/Declared Night (2002)

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Previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Italy (Einaudi), Hungary (Jelenkor)

Das erste Jahr/The First Year (2001)

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Previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Italy (Einaudi)

Nach den Satiren/After the Satires (1999)

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Previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: France (Petits Matins), Hungary (Jelenkor)

Den Teuren Toten/The Dear Dead (1994)

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Previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Portuguese rights (Angelus Novus), Norway (Bokvennen), Japan (CHUO University Press)

Grauzone morgens/Grey Area in the Mornings (1988)

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Italy (Einaudi); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Spanish world rights (Poesia Hidalgo), Hungary (Jelenkor)