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Nico Bleutge

Nico  Bleutge

Nico Bleutge

(Germany, 1972)
Nico Bleutge was born in 1972 in Munich. Between 1993 and 1998 he studied German Literature, Rhetoric and Philosophy in Tübingen, where he still lives. He has been writing his Ph.D. thesis on Robert Musil since 1999 and has worked as a freelance literary critic since 2001 for the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and the Stuttgarter Zeitung, among other publications. Bleutge was awarded the Open Mike prize by Berlin’s literaturWERKstatt in 2001 and received the Wolfgang-Weyrauch-Förder prize from the Literarischer März in 2003. In 2004 he was awarded a scholarship by the Baden-Württemberg Arts Foundation and a fellowship by the Berlin Literary Colloquium.


Bleutge’s poems are close studies of perception. Through their micrological viewpoint, his texts explore the correlation between the seen and seeing, the subject and object and the inner and outer world of landscapes, paintings and anatomical figures: “wandering particles, seeing// was this one movement, to give the landscape points to follow”. At the same time, they reveal the fragility and difficulty of naming forever elusive phenomena: “the ocean// slowly returned to the shore, at the fractures/ air seeped through the stones and lowered the pressure/ in the ears”. Bleutge’s poems come into being at these points of fracture – the tipping points – where, to use his term, a ‘reflexive perception’ turns, according to the jury of the Literarischer März, into the “spectacle of things”.

Photographic terms often appear in Bleutge’s texts – at times technical attempts are made in the poem to arrest the process of the world coming into being through perception: “plate upon plate// i fill with images for the future”, as the poet says in ‘punctured sky’ in a quote from Karl Kraus. The first person singular generally only appears as a quotation: Bleutge’s poems look for connections between worlds and languages in which an apparently fixed ‘lyrical I’ is portrayed in its groping movement.

The future and the past, memory and re-creation intertwine in the perception technique of these poems. Levels of time and language are mutually exposed in both the imagery of the texts and in a variety of quotations and associations: “the pressure// of tiny hairs against the napkin rings, the perspective/ of the memories stacked up on top of one another”. In unusual proximity, day-to-day details such as “the spatter of cleaning water” form sublime and disturbed views: “the crescent of the ocean broken out of the picture, the lime/ in the finger-grooves”.

Landscapes, architecture – but also plant surfaces – and a body that hears, sees and understands them mirror one another. Through the poems’ comparative structure itself, the environment becomes the somatic figure that the subject uses to go in search of perceptions: “the hair is following the wind/ which goes back a long way, on the skin of the houses/ cartilage is protruding and the shutters/ are gasping for air”.

Born out of a scepticism towards language in the age of modern media, a totally new and changing inspiration of thoughts and viewpoints is consequently created in Bleutge’s poems. Writing about his work, the critic Michael Braun says: “a poem’s highest achievement is to change the adventure of perception into a concept of lyrical images”.
© Alexander Gumz (Translated by Jane Palmer)
Poems published in:
Jahrbuch der Lyrik 2004. Ed. Christoph Buchwald. Verlag C. H. Beck, München 2003.
Lyrik von Jetzt. Ed. Björn Kuhligk and Jan Wagner. DuMont, Köln 2003.
neue deutsche literatur 5/2001.
neue deutsche literatur 2/2003.
Das Gedicht, no. 9.
Das Gedicht, no. 10.
Sinn und Form 1/2004.

Nico Bleutge on Lyrikline
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Lira fonds
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère