Anja Utler works as a poet, essayist and translator. Born in Schwandorf, a small Bavarian town, she has spent her adult years in Regensburg, Vienna, and Prague and is currently based in Leipzig. Her most recent book is "kommen sehen. Lobgesang" (2020), a poetic monologue from a future, in which an old woman tries to hand down her experience of a heat-crisis to her daughter. In Anja Utler's view, poetry is the literary genre that will interfere most directly with emotional and notional conceptualisations and may therefore cause a (mild) shift in recipients' thinking. For her, it's poetry's task to find out how language may be used to dismantle the comforts of a linguistic bird's-eye-perspective in order to approach matters from an ecological point of view that will give a linguistic embodiment to conditions of mutual physical interdependence.
Anja Utler's training is in philology, and she holds a PhD in Russian literature from the University of Regensburg. In her more recent research, she has taken an empirical look into the perceptions and thoughts poetry may cause when listened to ("manchmal sehr mitreißend", 2016). Anja Utler has taught in Austria, Germany and as writer-in-residence at Oberlin College, Ohio. She translates poetry from English, Slovak and Russian; her own poetry has been translated into more than 20 languages; she is a member of PEN and Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung.
As Anja Utler believes in the necessity of interdisciplinary exchange, she co-curated "eins: zum andern", an experimental forum for an exchange between poetry and research, held in Munich in September 2021. For THE NEW INSTITUTE, she will contribute to the program "The Foundations of Value and Values".
- "kommen sehen. Lobgesang“, Edition Korrespondenzen, 2020
- "Von den Knochen der Sanftheit“, Edition Korrespondenzen, 2016
- "manchmal sehr mitreißend. Über die poetische Erfahrung gesprochener Gedichte“, transcript, 2016
- "ausgeübt. Eine Kurskorrektur“, Edition Korrespondenzen, 2011
- "jana, vermacht“, Edition Korrespondenzen, 2009
- "brinnen“ (Buch / CD), Edition Korrespondenzen, 2006
- "münden – entzüngeln. Gedichte“ („engulf – enkindle“), Edition Korrespondenzen, 2004
What gives you hope?
Sometimes, a spark of spontaneous joy lights up in the eyes of a person, when s/he unexpectedly stumbles upon another living being. That's about the most hopeful thing I've come across so far.
How does change happen?
Change may start by listening and being listened to, adding new perspectives to your own, realising I was wrong. In the amazement of finding my thoughts and beliefs altered, change will already have happened. The question is, how to make it spread. Maybe by listening etc. Repeat.
What inspires you?
The persistence of everything. The impossibility of undoing.