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Robert Gernhardt


Robert Gernhardt

2006 Writer-in-Residence at the German Dept,

Universityof Warwick

will read from his works


Thu 27 April, 5pm, SO 21 (SocialSciencesBuilding)

(free admittance)

With generous support from the DAAD




Gernhardt’s translator Ursula Runde will be present at the event. The reading will be in German and English.


Robert Gernhardt is a poet, cartoonist, satirist, essayist, novelist and painter. Born in 1937 in Reval (Talinn)/Estonia, Gernhardt studied painting and literature in Stuttgart. Together with F.K.Waechter and F.W.Bernstein, Gernhardt developed a form of self-referential poetry, prose and cartoon, referred to as the ‘New Frankfurt School’, that is both satirical, playful and comic. From 1962, Gernhardt collaborated on the satirical magazine Pardon which influences an entire generation of German satirists. In 1979 he founded the satirical magazine Titanic with Waechter, Bernstein, Eckard Henscheid and others. Gernhardt’s satirical style combines social critique with a self-consciously irreverential attitude to cultural and literary traditions. His poetry and prose situates itself both within the comic traditions of Wilhelm Busch, Joachim Ringelnatz and Christian Morgenstern and the urban poetry of Heinrich Heine and Bertolt Brecht. Gernhardt’s poems which frequently produce their comic effects through play with language and sound as well as through playfully quoting literary tradition have become part of public consciousness in Germany.


Right up to my final hour
I’ll be obliging and polite.
Should I hear Death firmly knocking
I’ll shout at once: come in all right!

What’s on the schedule? Is it dying?
Well, that’s something rather new.
But I’m sure that we can swing it,
Showing them a thing or two.

What is this? Your hourglass?
Interesting! And good to grasp.
And the scythe is for grim reaping,
Did you say? I’d thought I’d ask.

Which way should I turn from here?
To the left? From where you stand?
Well, allright then. To the graveyard?
Where I take my final hand?

Yes, the glass is out of sand now.
Oh, I see, you want it back.
May I ask you where you got it?
So unusual, all in black.

Is it antique? Oh, whatever.
I only meant to ask, old chap –
What? No questions? No more talking?
That’s fine by me. I’ll shut my –