Literature as a European mother tongue: In our series “One is a CROWD”, we introduce you to authors from all over Europe who will be involved in the CROWD omnibus reading tour, taking place from May to July 2016, featuring 100 authors who will be travelling through 15 European countries. We asked them questions about text production, reception and mediation. In case you were wondering what a literary activist from Graz looks like, meet Alexander Micheuz !
Who are you as a poet/writer/author/artist?
An “ass”, which can mean a lot. “Butt”, for instance, or “bad ass” (which I’m probably not) or, in German, a certain playing card, for example the ace of spades, as in the famous song by Motörhead. I wrote a series of poems called “buttpoems”. It’s also an alliteration. Maybe that’s why I associate “author” with “ass”. “Butt” also connotes the conjunction “but”. So the word “ass” or “author” can have lots of meanings but…
What kind of literary tradition, authors or concepts have you found inspirational for your work?
I think that I’m mostly influenced by authors (female or male) who try to break some rules, create something differently and very much reflect upon what they are doing and sometimes just fool around (which is maybe the most important part of it all). E.g. Dada, Situationist International, Beat Generation, Vienna Group, Concrete Poetry, The Declaration of Happy art and attitude by G. Falk and W. Bauer, Oulipo, Sociology, Irony, Humour, Pop, Trash, Appropriation Art etc.
Please name several contemporary authors who you think are most significant in any possible sense – and why?
I have recently been very much into reading poetry and essays about poetry. I think that poetry as a literary form is poetologically extraordinarily high evolved. I wouldn’t consider myself to be a poet though – I write poems far too rarely and maybe far too lamely for that, but who knows (I write mainly prose and dramatic texts). I get a lot of input from reading contemporary poems written by Ulf Stolterfoht, Margret Kreidl, Gerhard Falkner, Konstantin Ames, Valeri Scherstjanoi, Jani Oswald, Monika Rinck, Dagmara Kraus, Simone Kornappel, Charles Bernstein, Peter Waterhouse or Nicanor Parra, just to name a few. I’m especially interested in anti-poetry and self-reflexive strategies of writing. I like authors who try hard to invent new forms and poetics while recognising exactly how difficult this is because they are deeply aware of the long history of literature, language and writing but at the same time they don’t care too much about all that. I hope this makes some sense. Or not.
What do you think about the current state of the relationship between the author and the reader? Has there been a mentionable shift in that relationship due to new media in terms of being alienated on the one hand and being invigorated on the other?
I think that new media can be something very positive for readers as well as the author. New literary forms can come to life, new ways of distributing and communication are made possible. Now it’s up to the authors and readers (and publishers as well) to make the best out of it. Or the worst. Both are of course always possible.
There have always been interactions and disputes between the discourses of poetry and politics. Do you see possibilities for emancipatory strategies concerning contemporary interactions between poetic and political discourses and agendas? How can/should/do these literary strategies look like?
I hope I’ve understood the question properly. Maybe poetry or literature in general is politically or socially emancipatory if it’s unusual in some way, if it deals with questions like how language constructs our way of thinking, seeing and feeling, and how literature is able to evoke different, yet irritating feelings and how a meaning-critical use of words can overcome prejudices, clichés and borders by opening up new meanings, new forms of thinking, writing, describing and looking at the world. At least that’s why I am so obsessed with good literature or art in general. Maybe something like that.
Photo: © Antonia Schwander