Every year, the Department of German Studies invites an author to the University of Arizona for the spring semester. The Max Kade Writer-in-Residence enriches the life of the department by sharing his or her work and experiences in courses and conversations, special events and every-day encounters.
2023 - María Cecilia Barbetta
Barbetta wrote her début work Änderungsschneiderei Los Milagros (2008; tr: Los Milagros Tailor’s Shop), which won the Aspekte Literature Prize and the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize, in German. "It’s as if the German language were a cloak, and with this cloak I can travel back to Buenos Aires…, protected by this language that, to me, always entails some distance, a certain irony." Following the literary traditions of Argentina, especially that of Julio Cortázar, in Änderungsschneiderei Los Milagros Barbetta tells the story of the young tailor Mariana, who works for her aunt and is meant to do the alterations of Analía’s mother’s wedding dress for Analía. As Analía’s wedding approaches, Mariana waits in vain for messages from her fiancé, who has been lingering in the USA. The borders between dreams and reality become blurred, and the two narrative threads of Mariana and Analía intertwine and weave together into a multilayered storyline. The novel’s title reveals itself to be a metaphor that guides the entire text: Barbetta senses the hidden or potential double and triple meanings of German words, plays with their various dimensions with virtuosity, constructs unusual chains of association, invents neologisms, composes new melodies for her sentences, and allows herself to make numerous allusions to world literature. Even before Barbetta’s second novel Nachtleuchten (2018; tr: Night Lights) was published, an excerpt from the manuscript was awarded the Alfred Döblin Prize. The plot is set in the Ballester district of Buenos Aires at a time of political upheaval dominated by the eerie atmosphere of the eve of a political revolution. Barbetta draws from her childhood experiences of living under a military dictatorship in which the fear felt by adults is omnipresent and becomes inscribed into the emotional framework of her generation.
Barbetta was also awarded a fellowship by the Villa Massimo in Rome in 2013 as well as further grants from the Senate of Berlin and the Deutscher Literaturfonds in Darmstadt. The author lives and works in Berlin. You can learn more about her here.
Barbi Marković was born in Belgrade and studied German language and literature in Belgrade and Vienna. She worked as an editor at the Rende publishing house in Belgrade until she moved to Vienna in 2006. In 2009, she caused a sensation with the Thomas Bernhard remix novel Ausgehen (Izlazenje, 2006), and in 2011/2012, she was the city writer of Graz. Short stories, plays, radio plays and numerous awards followed. In 2016, the novel Superheldinnen was published, which is the first novel that Barbi Marković has written partly in German and partly in Serbian. For Superheldinnen, she received the Alpha Literature Prize in 2016, the Adelbert von Chamisso Promotion Prize in 2017, the Georg Saiko Travel Scholarship in 2018, and the Reinhard Prissnitz Prize in 2019. In 2018, Superheldinnen was staged as a play at the Volkstheater in Vienna. Her most recent works include the radio play Frag die Angst for WDR 3, the dance The Resident (Korzo, Amsterdam), and the play Staub with Theater im Bahnhof, Graz.
Jörg Lukas Matthaei studied Comparative Literature and Philosophy in Passau, Dijon, Bonn, and Berlin. In the 1990s, he began developing multidisciplinary interventions and performances with various artists in independent art venues and public spaces in Berlin. He subsequently founded his own label, matthaei & konsorten, which has produced over 50 projects since 2000, which range from stage productions, installations, and discourse productions to the development of new formats for urban landscapes in various European cities. The latter has been a focal point of Matthaei's work for several years. These site-specific urban projects combine extensive research into collective topography with unique performative portraits. Throughout their open processes (both in the development and the settings for audiences), the roles of performers, observers and authors switch. Everything in an urban space can turn into a zone of play, in which media inputs expand the possibilities of perception and one's own actions.
Judith Nika Pfeifer is a novelist, poet, and transmedia artist. She studied Political Science and Communications in Vienna and was a Visiting Postgraduate Student in Lancaster, UK and at the University of in Edinburgh. In 2017, she earned an interdisciplinary PhD from the University of Vienna, where she held a position as a DOC-team research fellow from the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Prior to her PhD research, she studied at the Universities of Vienna and Pavia, Italy to receive her M.A. in Political Science, Communications and Contemporary History.
Pfeifer's texts have appeared in literary magazines and anthologies, such as kolik, Literatur und Kritik, the gap, and Lichtungen. She performs at poetry festivals and experiments with transmedia art projects in Vienna, Berlin, Edinburgh, Helsinki, and Munich and enjoys working together with other artists.
Books published in German: Violante (2017). manchmal passiert auch minutenlang gar nichts / sometimes nothing really happens, really (2015). between. Prose (2015). zwischen. Prosa (2014). nichts ist wichtiger. ding kleines du / nothing is more important. thing little you (2012). Nika Pfeifer's poems have been translated into English, Chinese, Spanish, Hindi, Malayam, French, Italian, Slovenian, Serbian, Polish, and Belarusian.
Violante was awarded the Österreichische Buchprämie 2017. zwischen, her critically acclaimed collection of short stories, was awarded the Österreichische Buchprämie 2014 by the Federal Chancellory of Austria. sometimes nothing really happens, really received the Buchprämie in 2015. Other prizes, invitations, and awards: 2017 Max Kade Writer in Residence, Easton, PA. Writer in Residence Paliano, Italy 2016. Villa Waldberta Residency Munich, 2015. Writer in Residence of the City Ptuj, Slovenia 2015. seestadt aspern 2014. Artist Residency Schloss Wiepersdorf, Germany 2014. Reinhard-Priessnitz-Prize 2012.
It is a pragmatic and playful approach, with which she approaches the writing process, a nonchalant casualness that one feels – in her micro fiction as well as in her poetry. Speech material is smashed and re-assembled, thoughts flicker and in the strongest moments, the idyll is deconstructed again. It does not matter if she puts herself on the shores of the South Pacific, takes on Vienna's pale November romance, or simply dedicates a poetry cycle to the Fluc, a music club in Vienna. The cycle – and this underlines once again her spontaneous approach to poetry – was created on site, sitting on the floor, when the technology went down at a music event/ reading. A bit of event character, music and visuals do not harm readings, even if they distract from the pure word. – the gap
yes, yes, yes!! that's what made me so excited! – i remember: that was a lively, young, fresh poem! – Friederike Mayröcker on "nothing is more important"
NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT
have found love
feels as is off
the rack it fits
Nika Pfeifer's most recent book Violante is based on the true story of an honor killing that took place in 1559, written as a furious crossover of the great opera and Quentin Tarantino's bloody cinema thrillers. Literature that is both literary and airy at the same time, unbiased present, nonchalantly historical. Sparkling prose peppered with references. – Herbert J. Wimmer
Christopher Kloeble is a German novelist, playwright, and scriptwriter. He studied at the German Creative Writing Program Leipzig and at the University for Film and Television in Munich, and he has held teaching assignments and residencies in Germany, the US, UK, and India, among others. His plays U-Turn and Memory have been staged at major theatres in Vienna, Munich, Heidelberg, and Nuremberg. For his first novel Amongst Loners, he won the Jürgen Ponto Stiftung prize for best debut 2008; his second book A Knock at the Door appeared in 2009. The third, Almost Everything Very Fast, which Kloeble is currently adapting as a feature film, was published in English with Graywolf Press (USA). His first film script, Inclusion, was produced in 2011 and nominated for the Prix Europa 2012 for Best Movie Script. His most recent novel, The Shadows of the Salz Family, appeared in Germany in 2016. Kloeble lives in Berlin and Delhi. Read more on his website.
Photo Credit: Valerie Schmidt
Michael Speier is a literary scholar, poet and translator, living in Berlin. He holds the Staatsexamen and a Ph.D. in German Literature from the Freie Universität Berlin. Having taught at the Freie Universität Berlin, the University at Leipzig, and several U.S. universities (Dartmouth College and Georgetown University among them), Michael Speier is also Adjunct Professor at the German Department of the University of Cincinnati. In addition to having published a number of anthologies and translated modern English, French, and Italian poetry, he is the founding editor of the Paul-Celan-Jahrbuch and the literary magazine Park.
His primary scholarly interests include symbolism, expressionistic prose, translation theory and practice, the image of the city in literature, and modern poetry, especially Paul Celan. His teaching interests also include creative writing. The author of numerous articles and reviews, he has written or edited the following books: Die Ästhetik Jean Pauls (1979), Kehr um im Bild (with Dieter Straub, 1983); Im Übersetzen leben. Übersetzen und Textvergleich (with Klaus Berger, 1986); Berlin!Berlin! Eine Großstadt im Gedicht (1987); Poesie der Metropole (1990); Berlin mit deinen frechen Feuern (1998); Interpretationen: Gedichte von Paul Celan (2002); and Berlin, du bist die Stadt (2011).
He has published nine volumes of poetry (most recently: LaokoonsLaptop, 2015; HauptStadtStudio, 2012; WeltRaumReisen, 2007). His work has appeared in over 50 anthologies and has been translated into twelve languages. He received the Schiller Award (Weimar), the Alfred-Döblin-Stipenum (Akademie der Künste, Berlin), Hermann-Hesse-Stipendium, Stichting Culturele Uitwisseling-Stipendium and was writer in residence in the USA, France and Hungary. He was awarded the "Literaturpreis der A + A Kulturstiftung" in Spring 2011.
During his time at the UofA, Michael Speier wrote Damals in Tucson (2016-17).
Zafer Şenocak, author of poetry, novels, and numerous essays, was born in Ankara and moved to West Germany in 1970 at the age of eight. He began to publish his poetry, written in German, while studying in Munich and received literary prizes in 1984 and 1988. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Şenocak traveled and had residencies or seminars at MIT, University of Miami at Oxford, the University of California Berkeley, Dartmouth College, and Oberlin College. He is the 2015 Max Kade Writer-in-Residence at the University of Arizona’s Department of German Studies where he is participating in a graduate seminar on “Minority Discourses.”
He is currently working on a book project entitled In deinen Worten (“In Your Words”), which he began following the death of his father. Reminiscent of his other works, it explores their relationship as well as the themes of religious beliefs, transnationality, and language. The project will combine the genres of fiction, essay, and biography. Şenocak has been working on this project since 2011 because, as he puts it, “the closer you are to a subject, the harder it is to write about it”. He is also preparing a new collection of poems for publication in the near future.
Text by Patrick Ploschnitzi, MA Student, and Tara Taylor, BA Student, UA German Studies Department.
It was while in Berlin last summer as an artist-in-residence at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research that Philipp Weiss first heard about the Biosphere 2. He began to read about and research the original project that was initiated by an “eco-capitalistic thinking billionaire” and the individuals who called themselves “the Synergists.” What interested Weiss at first was the idea of simulation – “to build a world inside the world and this very strong idea of rebuilding the world in some aspect.” Weiss was caught by the expression “Spaceship Earth,” as Buckminster Fuller had named it, and the thought of spreading humanity into the universe. He considered the responsibilities on Earth, and the complications of leaving it – “being here on planet earth, you are part of a very big and fragile system… and in charge and responsible for keeping the system in balance in order for mankind to stay alive on this planet… and on the other hand this [“Spaceship Earth”] makes it very easy to say okay we can mess up with this earth and go elsewhere when we need to.” Weiss recognized dramatic potential in the ideas of this original Biosphere project, especially considering the personal experiences of those researchers who lived within the Biosphere between 1991 and 1993. However, he does not aim to create a documentary piece or tell a story that has already been told, instead he wants to start from the facts and diverge into fiction for his play. These are the current research interests of the Department of German Studies’ newest Max Kade Writer-in-Residence, Austrian author, Philipp Weiss.
Weiss does not write for only one genre, he has done both theater pieces and prose, although the beauty of writing plays lies in transformation. Once he has completed a play he celebrates when “handing it over to theater people – actors, directors – and having it transformed again. It’s a process of a text staying alive and being embodied again and again if the play is staged more than one time.” Weiss gushes, “I have plenty of perspectives and speakers and characters and they all have their own version of the world, their own voices and their own sounds. Different voices are like different instruments – you have a whole orchestra.” Writing short texts and novels is, however, more of an opportunity to have authority over a text for him. He sees in it the possibility to be more exact and fine with his intentions, although he also recognizes the unending space he is creating into and how long such a project can take.
While at the University of Vienna, Weiss studied German Studies, Philosophy, and German as a Foreign Language. For his Master’s thesis he wrote a deconstructionist essay on Peter Handke’s Wunschloses Unglück. Handke’s dynamic writing style inspires Weiss in his own projects, as Weiss recognizes that Handke is not afraid to change his perspective with every new text that he writes; Handke is not afraid to transform. Weiss claims, “I don’t think that a writer should finally come to one voice, to one form and stick to that – [instead] it’s new each time. “
Weiss himself started writing theater pieces in 2005, while he was studying. A professor of his encouraged him to write a play for the Burgtheater, which he did. The play, “egon. Ein Kunst-Stück,” was published in 2008 and performed at the Leopold Museum in Vienna – although Weiss confesses that when he first wrote “egon” he “had no idea what theater was and was just doing what came to mind, but this is very productive and much more interesting than knowing the tradition and fitting in.” Since then Weiss has written 5 other plays, and many pieces of prose. At this time he is working on a novel about the Fukushima accident, and of course the Biosphere 2 play, which is still in the beginning phase.
- “Pastiche” (2005)
- “Der erotische Körper” (2007)
- “Blätterliebe” (2009)
- Tartaglia (2006/ edit. 2013)
- Malachit und Amphisbaena (2012)
- egon. Ein Kunst-Stück (2006)
- Seifenblasenoper. Eine Kritik der runden Vernunft (2010)
- Allerwelt (2011)
- die europa. (2012)
- Ein schöner Hase ist meistens der Einzellne (2013)
- Kein schöner Land. (2014)