Poetry News

Sarah Kirsch, 1935-2013

By Harriet Staff


We're saddened to hear about the death of German-lyric poet, Sarah Kirsch. Kirsch died on May 5th: her death was recently announced by her publisher, the Munich-based publishing house Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt (DVA), a Random House subsidiary.

From Deutsche Welle:

Born during the Nazi era in 1935 as Ingrid Bernstein, she changed her first name to Sarah in protest against anti-Semitism. Her surname Kirsch resulted from a short marriage in the 1960s.

In communist East Germany, Kirsch studied biology and literature. Pressure grew on her to leave after 1976 when she joined protests against the expulsion of the outspoken singer-songwriter Wolf Biermann by East German authorities.

From the early 1980s until her death she lived, wrote and painted in an old school house behind a dyke in Schleswig-Holstein. State premier Torsten Albig on Wednesday said Kirsch had done much to promote the region's beauty abroad...

German states minister for culture Bernd Neumann paid tribute on Wednesday to the late poet Sarah Kirsch, describing her as an exceptional German lyricist who fought with her prose for democracy and human rights.

The 78-year-old Kirsch died on May 5 at her home in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein after a short illness.

Rest in peace, Sarah. To learn more about Sarah Kirsch, her poem "Free Verses" (translated by Rita Dove and Fred Viebahn), from the October 1998 issue of Poetry, is a great start.

Originally Published: May 23rd, 2013
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