Oskar Pastior




Photo of Oskar Pastior

Oskar Pastior (1927-2006) was born in Hermannstadt, in Siebenbürgen, the German-speaking part of Romania. After the War he was deported to a Soviet Labor Camp in the Ukraine; he spent five years there as part of Romania’s reparation for having sided with Hitler. This experience, he says, provided him with his thematic tonic: “the small — but significant — scope between freedom and determinism.” Taking odd jobs upon his return to Romania, he managed to complete his studies in German literature and to work in radio in Bucarest. Since 1969 he has been living and writing in (West) Berlin. A member of the Bielefeld Colloquium for New Poetry since 1977, he has lectured in poetic theory in Kassel (1992), Frankfurt-am-Main (1994), and Vienna (1994).

Publications include poetry, sound poetry, radio plays, art, and translations into German of Petrarch, Urmuz, Khlebnikov, Gertrude Stein, and Gellu Naum. A master of anagrams, sestinas and palindromes, Pastior was coopted by the Oulipo in 1992. He won the Ernst-Meister-Preis (1986), the Hugo-Ball-Preis (1990), the Prix Huchel (2001) and, in 2006, the Georg-Büchner-Preis, Germany’s most prestigious arts and literature honor. Some poems are available in English, notably in Poemspoems (trans. Malcolm Green; Atlas, 1990) and in Many Glove Compartments: Selected Poetry (trans. Harry Matthews, Christopher Middleton, Rosmarie Waldrop, with a guest appearance by John Yau; Burning Deck, 2001).