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The Art of Kunst

Selected Poems, Letters, and Other Writings by Thomas Kunst


Edited By Steven D. Martinson

This book introduces for the first time selected poetry, letters, and other writings by the German writer Thomas Kunst (Leipzig) to the English-speaking world. Given the many prestigious awards the writer has received for his poetry and the originality of his imaginative thinking, the Turkish-German writer Feridun Zaimoglu rightly called Kunst a great poet. Through his immersion in the poetry of Paul Celan, Georg Trakl, Nicolas Born, Thomas Brasch, and several South and North American writers, Thomas Kunst has acquired a distinctive voice and style that rival the most talented writers in Germany today. Music animates his creative writing. What he calls the instrumentation between music and language flows almost effortlessly from his experiences in the world, shaping the multifaceted textures of his writings. Readers will be struck by the author’s remarkable clarity of expression, precision, directness, and authenticity. «A poem is a poem for me only when the most ordinary things in it irritate me in the most intense ways.» Inner turbulence over the way things are, outer conflict, and the awareness of the ultimate irresolvability of pressing political concerns, everyday experience, knowledge of the classical heritage, and acute aesthetic sensibility unite to provide a unique and challenging reading experience.
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I. Introducing Thomas Kunst


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Thomas Kunst was born on the first day of the year 1965 in Stralsund on the Baltic Sea. He grew up in East Germany, then called the German Democratic Republic (or GDR). When Kunst moved inland to Leipzig, he was pressured to join the Communist Party. He refused. A short autobiographical writing indicates why: “My GDR was the Baltic Sea, and it was never deep.” The author’s early experiences of nature flow into the rural setting of his place of residence, Leipzig, the city of Bach, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Lessing, Goethe, Schiller, and Nietzsche. It is a city of music, poetry, and philosophy, a nearly ideal habitat for the writer, just short of Venice, his favorite city. Although he was never overtly critical of the East German political establishment, Kunst was unsympathetic to its practices. His own experiences of life and his interaction with the lives of everyday human beings matter to him. What lies at the heart of Kunst’s art is not the worker but the individual human being. For Kunst, the political sphere is secondary to the life of art. ← 1 | 2 →

Thomas Kunst has received several prizes for his literary writings,1 and his writing has been supported by several fellowships and grants.2 Kunst has been a member of the international writers association P.E.N.* since 2007. On June 27, 2015, the author held an invited reading of his work at the Sarah Kirsch* house as part...

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