His former student, the musician Markus Schirmer, paid his respects to the deceased on Facebook: “How lucky you can be to have seen you, one of the great Austrian poets at the Graz Academic Gymnasium, as a German teacher.” Kolleritsch was far from his time been ahead. And the literary magazine “manuskripte”, which he co-founded, said goodbye to the short news service Twitter with a poem by the deceased: “Again the flood: light first, then night, love always, always loss.”
Kolleritsch was born on February 16, 1931 in the Styrian Brunnsee as the son of a forest manager and a postal worker. He came to his city of Graz in 1941, where he first attended high school and then the university, before finally doing his doctorate there in 1964 on “Reality and Inauthenticity in Heidegger’s Philosophy”. Many years followed in his bread profession as a high school teacher for philosophy and German, which he practiced until 1993.
Co-founder of the Graz Forum Stadtpark
In addition, however, Kolleritsch continued to work on his own oeuvre, as his grandfather’s library had once awakened his interest in literature. The first poems and attempts at prose were written as early as 1948, and the first public reading took place in Graz in 1958. And as early as 1960, the then almost 30-year-old co-founded the Forum Stadtpark, which was located in the former Graz Stadtpark Cafe and was chaired until 1995. The forum was conceived as a “self-governing meeting place” – more on this in steiermark.ORF.at.
“Manuscripts” as a springboard for many authors
At the same time as the forum, the literary magazine “manuskripte” started, which Kolleritsch was the sole editor of from the second edition. Not only did he make a significant contribution to making Graz a literary center in Austria. He also served as a pioneer for many later author stars. The authors of the Viennese group, such as H. C. Artmann and Konrad Bayer, first published in the literary magazine. From the fifth number onwards, authors such as Wolfgang Bauer and Barbara Frischmuth were added.
The magazine became popular not least thanks to advertisements for pornography, as there were protests against the imprint of Oswald Wiener’s novel “The Improvement of Central Europe”. But also writers like Peter Handke, Elfriede Jelinek, Gerhard Roth and Josef Winkler presented their texts in the “manuscripts”. Vaclav Havel had his first release outside of Czechoslovakia in this format. And more recently, authors such as Valerie Fritsch and Clemens Setz have been among the discoveries of the publication.
“The main topic is always the personal environment”
Kolleritsch himself was quite critical of the current tendencies, as he emphasized in the APA interview on his 85th birthday: “Unfortunately, one has to say that the main topic is always the personal environment. You are completely relieved when prose comes that frees itself from the difficulties of getting up in the morning and goes on: becomes more imaginative and poetic. “
In any case, the “manuscripts” did not remain Kolleritsch’s only engagement in the field of literature, since in 1973 he founded the Graz authors’ meeting together with writers such as Friederike Mayröcker, Ernst Jandl and Gustav Ernst. And yet the busy man also managed to put his own thoughts on paper.
Prose, poetry and a drama
A year earlier (1972) his first prose work “Die Pfirsichtöter” had been published. The novel describes a system of rule based on the power of its signs. Since then, Kolleritsch has repeatedly opposed the narrowing and congealing of life as well as totalitarianism and fascism in his works. It followed u. a. “The Green Side” (1974) – a three-generation story of the upbringing of sons by fathers – and “Allemann” (1989).
The author’s only play, “Die resetteten Köche”, was released in 2001 and was premiered as part of steirischer herbst. And finally, Kolleritsch established himself as a poet with a large number of poems since 1972. His first volume “Remembered Wrath” was published in private print in an edition of 900 signed copies, most recently “Die Nacht des Sehen” was published by Droschl-Verlag this year. In 2008 the Salzburg-based Jung und Jung Verlag published the correspondence between the Graz literati and the later Nobel Laureate in Literature under the title “Beauty is a Citizen’s Duty”.
In 2011, the homage volume “The most beautiful stranger is with you” commemorated his 80th birthday in his lifetime, although it did not stop at these literary honors. In addition to the Petrarch Prize (1978), the “Manuscript” Prize of the Province of Styria (1981) and the Georg Trakl Prize (1987), Kolleritsch was awarded the Austrian State Prize for Cultural Journalism (1994) and the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art (1997).
In 2006 he received the Horst Bienek Prize for Poetry and the Great Golden Medal of Honor of the State of Styria with the star. In 2009 he was awarded the Graz Literature Prize (Franz Nabl Prize) and in 2013 the honorary ring the highest award of the state of Styria, which was awarded the badge of honor of the state of Styria three years ago.
Catalog of works
- 1972 “Die Pfirsichtöter” (also Italian translation)
- 1972 “Remembered Wrath” (poems)
- 1974 “The Green Side” (French translation)
- 1978 “Practice in the avoidable” (poems)
- 1982 “Ahead of the eyes” (poems)
- 1983 “Fall into Happiness” (poems)
- 1985 “Talks in the spa”
- 1986 “lust for the eyes”
- 1988 “Poems”, selected by Peter Handke
- 1989 “Allemann” (new edition 2016)
- 1990 “overshadowing”, together with Hannes Schwarz and Peter Strasser
- 1991 “Opposing Paths” (poems)
- 1992 “Hemler, the bird” (a story with drawings by Hartmut Urban)
- 1993 “Two ways no more” (poems)
- 1995 “The Last Austrian”
- 1997 “The Rescued Cooks” (drama)
- 1998 “In the valleys of the world” (poems)
- 2001 “The Sum of Days” (poems)
- 2001 “Marginalia and Contradictions” (Essays)
- 2001 “Two ways, nothing more” (poems)
- 2003 “Liberation of Sensation” (poems)
- 2003 Edited by “Graz from the outside”
- 2004 “Liberation of Sensation” (poems)
- 2006 “Comforting Parallels” (poems)
- 2008 “Beauty is the first civic duty” (correspondence with Peter Handke)
- 2013 “There is the immense other” (poems)
- 2020 “The Night of Seeing” (poems)