Pushed Into New Surroundings

An Interview with Regina Hilber

/ by Wolfgang Kühn

Regina Hilber is an Austrian poet, and has been part of VERSOPOLIS from the very beginning. Thanks to the project, she was invited to the Genoa Festival in 2015 and – as a consequence – received an invitation to the Ark Festival in Armenia in September 2015, and later on to a residency stay in Armenia in 2016.


Right now, she is on a six-month stay at Castle Beeskow in Northern Germany, but on November 16 she will leave her “residency” and will be reading at another VERSOPOLIS partner’s festival – at Ars Poetica in Bratislava (http://www.arspoetica.sk/)


Regina Hilber was born 1970, in Hausleiten (NÖ / Lower Austria). For some years, she lived in the Tyrol, but since autumn 2006 she has lived in Vienna. Hilber has received various scholarships, including the Staatsstipendium für Literatur 2006, Wiener Autorenstipendium and Projektstipendium 2016-2017. She has been awarded various prizes, including Anerkennungspreis des Landes NÖ für Literatur 2010.
She was invited for scholarships to various countries, such as Italy (Paliano), Germany (Schloss Wiepersdorf), Slovakia (Stary Smokovec) and Slovenia (Ptuj) and right now Germany again (Beeskow Castle).


Her books include:

Ich spreche Bilder. Prose and poetry. TAK-Verlag Innsbruck (2005); Zeichensetzung. Zeilensprünge. Luftschacht Verlag Wien (2009); Im schwarz blühen die schönsten farben. Edition Thurnhof Horn (2011); Schanker–Ein Bericht aus Wien. Literaturedition NÖ St. Pölten (2014); Landaufnahmen. Limbus Verlag (2016) and ÜBERSCHREIBUNGEN (Edition CH 2017).



I am your minute bliss

susurrates Ptuj and I

stay for some hours more one

day doesn’t make a life(time)

curls yellow outage gates

metastases are non-determinable

on clear days



-from “PREKMURJE CYCLE – 14 SEQUENCES,” from the book Im schwarz blühen die schönsten farben (Edition Thurnhof, 2011), translated into English by Micha Wille.


Somewhere sometime in between, Regina Hilber was kind enough to answer a few questions about residencies and poetry.



Wolfgang Kühn: Born in a small village in Lower Austria, you grew up in the Tyrol and then moved back to the Eastern part of Austria. Moving has always been part of your life. Is this maybe one of the reasons why you like to go on residencies?


Regina Hilber: Let me answer with an anecdote. I was a premature baby. Ambulance and midwife arrived too late in that small village where I was born, and the midwife exclaimed when seeing me: “She will go around the whole world!”


Talking about residencies – you are a poet who always “takes advantage” of a residency in a way that it influences your writing. The surroundings of a residency somehow become the focus of your writing, as in your book Landaufnahmen (published in 2016) shows. How does it come?


Being pushed into new surroundings has always been an acceptable gift to me – it´s like an open field, a huge playground. And I am the biggest admirer of landscapes. I worked more than four years for that book of poetry. Of course, those poems were not written in residencies only. It´s a long process: Collecting, observing, writing, developing and maturing. The local impulse is not the only topic of my lyric cycles, but also philosophic elements or historical references.   


This means the surrounding has some kind of magnetic pull on you?


It´s like a deep devotion for landscapes, no matter how they look, and I try to reproduce them in my poetical way.


Is there something like a Plan B? I mean, did it ever happen that a residency did not inspire you? Or do you go on residencies with a certain plan, which you sometimes have to postpone as something else happens to inspire you?


In all countries, I’ve been inspired by local impulses and by socio-political influences, but I do have to admit that my radius is, at the same time, always focused on other projects, too. Right now, I am working on a collection of essays which will be published next year.  


How do you create a poem? Is there a special method which applies to all poems, or is it always a bit different?


Five years ago, I started writing lyrical cycles only – no more single poems. It´s much more satisfying to me. The writing process becomes more fascinating, and those cycles are perfect in picturing observations. They allow me to mix them up with philosophic or political contemplations.


How political should a poet be in her writing?


How can a poet be unpolitical, especially these days? A political or social political discourse is an essential element of my work, in my essays even more than in my lyrical cycles.


Did you ever have in mind to write a novel?


I´m a curious person, so I´m trying to write a novel (without knowing if I will succeed or not), but I must confess that I don´t take it seriously enough from time to time. Sometimes I have to tighten the thumbscrews on. Since I have been working on that first novel, I was collecting all “poetic sub-standard goods,” I mean lyrical elements which are not suitable, in a novel. After one year, these sub-standard goods increased enormously, so I published it this spring as a short prose book named ÜBERSCHREIBUNGEN.


What about poets and the oft-mentioned “ivory tower?” Is it a mere stereotype or is it more than this?


I answer with a short sequence from my book Landaufnahmen:


...there we flew over the onion fields and had

no more tears for the ivory-tower...


What are your future plans?


My most urgent future plan is to get more air! The second future plan is to find an efficient painkiller. Too many troubles out there these days...

Wolfgang Kühn

born in 1965 in Baden / Wien, living in Zöbing / Langenlois. He is an Austrian writer (four Austrian dialect books so far) and musician – www.küve.com / www.zurwachauerin.at (five CDs so far) – as well as an editor of anthologies. Since 1992 he is the chief-editor of Austrian literature magazine DUM – Das Ultimative Magazin – www.dum.at