Winkler tried a language experiment

Austrian author Andrea Winkler presented herself in Klagenfurt with her highly artificial text “Aus dem Gras” (From the grass). The jury did not like Winkler’s language experiment between “world loss and world insurance” much at all or very little.The jury’s discussion turned into a discussion about the significance of language experiments in general.

Praise only from the Austrian juror

Karin Fleischanderl started off the discussion with an endorsement: “Andrea Winkler boils literature down to what’s fundamental, essential: namely the staging of language and a radical subjectivity.” Winkler’s text, according to her, is “a great joy – it is as if her literature opened up space for the I and for silence”. The greatest demand placed on literature has been met with this text, namely for “literature not to represent the world but to create it anew”.

Andrea Winkler


Publikum (Bild: ORF/Johannes Puch)Publikum (Bild: ORF/Johannes Puch)

Mangold: “I understood virtually nothing”

Then Clarissa Stadler gave the floor to Ijoma Mangold – who appeared very unhappy about it: “I was really hoping to be the last one to speak so that my colleagues can explain to me what this text is about. Apart from the sentence ‘Meine Hand, meine ausgesprochen wirkliche Hand’ (my hand, my markedly real hand), I understood nothing”, was the juror’s attack. “The text uses a wealth of motifs that I took note of acoustically – but that is all.”

Andrea Winkler (Bild: ORF/Johannes Puch)Andrea Winkler (Bild: ORF/Johannes Puch)


“The reader turns truffle pig”

“I am also not at all happy with the text”, Meike Feßmann began. “The text’s movement produces the subject matter, but for a long time you don’t know what it is about.” It is about language itself, apparently, its staging, but “I don’t really see much sense in watching another person’s fantasies of omnipotence”. It is apparently about hurt and love, “written after through the I. What is problematic for me: the cheery game of words turns the reader into a truffle pig that is supposed to sniff after each word.” Winkler’s text was “true duress”.

Meike Feßmann, Alain Claude Sulzer (Bild: ORF/Johannes Puch)Meike Feßmann, Alain Claude Sulzer (Bild: ORF/Johannes Puch)

A text on the “level of the musical”

Burkhard Spinnen said that sounds and melodies are also semantic – but not linguistic. The heritage of modernity, linguistic criticism, is too often forgotten nowadays. “The semantic material, however, does not just belong to the author: despite all linguistic doubt and musicality one must not forget that language is also a means of communication, something that has grown through time.”

The text for the most part operates on the level of the musical – but it lacks an examination on the linguistic-semantic level. “I expect from a text that it fights this battle, so that I can feel such an examination.”

Burkhard Spinnen (Bild: ORF/Johannes Puch)Burkhard Spinnen (Bild: ORF/Johannes Puch) 

Jandl: “The invention of reality”

Paul Jandl confirmed that this is a text of poetic self-abandonment, delivering its own poetry. The images gradually form a text, he believes, – there is narration, but very little: “A movement that has to be imagined visually.” “It is not a description, it is an invention of reality”, said Jandl – “courageously realised”.

Perhaps a meditation text?

“I appreciate the virtuosity of the fabric, but I also share the confusion”, Hildegard E. Keller began. For her, Winkler’s text was a realisation of the “meditation technique of the monks of St. Paul”: “Rumination – like cloven hoofed animals”, and she asked the question: “Perhaps it is a meditation text, but I felt a bit lost, even once I had read it several times.”

Hildegard E. Keller (Bild: ORF/Johannes Puch)Hildegard E. Keller (Bild: ORF/Johannes Puch)

“This text was no joy”

“If it is a musical piece, then a lullaby – for me this text was no joy”, said Alain Claude Sulzer, summarising his criticism. For him, the text was “no delight at all”. “I wasn’t even sure whether to speak at all: the tone of the text is really highbrow, I am too low and too stupid. There is something highly fabricated about it and there will be critics who think this is great – but the text does nothing at all for me.”

Barbara Johanna Frank



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