Brigitte Oleschinski was born in Cologne. She studied political science and lives in Berlin, where she works as a modern historian. It has been said that from an early age she has believed writing to be a pathological process, a kind of overheating of the brain.
She appropriately named her first collection of poems Mental Heat Control
(Rowohlt Verlag, 1990). Recently she asked neurologist Erwin-Josef Speckmann what actually happens in the brain when an artist experiences the miracle of transfiguration, when brushstrokes turn into a picture, when notes become a melody, or when language expresses the inexpressible. The answer may be irrelevant, the question is not. Brigitte Oleschinski wants to find out how things happen, how mental and emotional processes go, in children, in adults. She also occupies herself with questions regarding society. As a historian and a political scientist she has long studied the phenomenon of political repression under the totalitarian systems of the 20th century. History – the recent history of Germany after reunification as well as more distant pasts – also plays a part in her poetry, but only in the background. Her dominant theme is language. She gets words to play with each other, sometimes in a happy, childish manner, often witty, and brilliant. Her goal is, invariably, to gain insight in experiences, how they are dealt with, and where they lead. The landscape of her poems is the city, where people live among the latest technologies as well as the remnants of organic nature. Brigitte Oleschinski writes about it in poetry and in essays. With Durs Grünbein and Peter Waterhouse she published in 1995 Die Schweizer Korrektur
, a three-part ‘poetics score’, about the conditions of writing poetry in our modern age. In 1998 she was awarded the prestigious Peter Huchel Prize for her latest collection, Your Passport is Not Guilty
(Rowohlt Verlag 1997): elusive poetry that provokes both thought and emotion.
© Ton Naaijkens (Translated by Ko Kooman)
[Brigitte Oleschinski took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2000. This text was written on that occasion.]
Publications (selection):Mental Heat Control
(1990); Your Passport is Not Guilty
Brigitte Oleschinski on Lyrikline