Documentary Poetry by Heimrad Bäcker
with “Afterword: A Past Charged with Now-Time” by Sabine Zelger
In a Bilingual edition, translated by Jacquelyn Deal and Patrick Greaney.
Published in a hand-bound edition of 80 copies (only 40 of which are for sale), Documentary Poetry is available for $12+postage ($15 total). To order please email derek beaulieu.
“Documentary literature cuts through the skeins of imagination, paralyzes the literary impulses of the will, makes secondary reflection into an unnecessary addition, and negates remembrance ceremonies’ formulaic horror; documentary literature suffers no reduction in efficacy by repeated usage, makes visible that which is hidden by public and private mediocrity and its schematizing tendencies.”
Documentary Poetry presents the principles that guided Bäcker’s writing practice. It is one of the longest texts in poetics that he published during his lifetime.
Heimrad Bäcker (1925–2003) was an artist, poet, and influential editor of the Austrian avant-garde. He is the author of seven volumes of poetry, including transcript (Dalkey Archive Press, 2010) and Seascape (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2013). He published major works by Austrian artists and experimental writers in his journal neue texte (1968–1991) and under the imprint of Edition Neue Texte (1976–1992), the publishing house that he ran along with his wife Margret Bäcker. Most of his literary works draw on the methods of concrete and visual poetry to present documentary material about the Shoah. These books were historical and literary, and they were also part of a critical autobiography, an examination of Bäcker’s enthusiastic participation in the Hitler Youth and the Nazi Party.
Heimrad Bäcker’s “Dokumentarische Dichtung” was first published in the Vienna literary journal Protokolle, 29.2 (1992). This reprint and translation have been authorized by Thomas Eder, Bäcker’s literary executor. The translation was supported by a grant from the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Art, and Culture.