Gertrude Maria Grossegger

- Austria -

The author was born in 1957 in Knittelfeld (Styria). She is living and writing in the southeastern part of Austria, near Graz, the capital of Styria.

Her work was published in literary magazines, anthologies and broadcasted at ORF (Austria’s broadcasting) as well as in various publishing houses. Grossegger’s texts also includes a novel and a children’s book – her main field of work is poetry, though.


In 2021 she was awarded the Frau Ava-Literaturpreis.


Publications (selection):

zwirnen. Langgedicht. Passagen Verlag, Wien 2019

grasfischen. Gedichte. Mit Bildern von Günter Egger. Bibliothek der Provinz, Weitra 2013

hier außer mir. Gedichte. edition keiper, Graz 2013

A trained teacher for German and visual education in Graz, now lives near Feldbach in southeastern Styria. She has been publishing since the early 2000s and has been working as a freelance author since 2009. 


Her work includes poetry and prose, as well as dramatic texts and children's books. She works in interdisciplinary projects, has published in literary magazines such as LICHTUNGEN and manuscripts, on radio and on ORF: most recently Ö1 Kunstradio, “I am now with the fishes” (music, composition: Elisabeth Harnik, idea, text, voice: Gertrude Maria Grossegger , October 2022); “World Receiver (ORF-Funkhaus, exhibition with sculptor Krista Titz Tornquist, September 2022).


The jury's statement on the occasion of the Graz Literature Promotion Prize (2006) states, among other things: “Through a sophisticated repetition process specific to them, as well as through an unmistakable rhythm and an idiosyncratic structure, often breathless, a lyrical form becomes manifest. With the above-mentioned, striking repetition patterns, a basic musical structure becomes apparent in the texts. It is impressive how she brings out linguistic images and metaphors from everyday life and, with their very emotional voice, places them critically in the literary space. However, this reality is just seemingly superficial, their language is full of direct clarity, a great closeness to 'things' becomes palpable in literary terms. One could also call this circumstance their distinctive ‘literary sensuality’.” 


On the volume of poetry saxa rubra saxa alba, poems, pictures by Lea Titz (Verlag der Provinz 2008) Martin Kubacek notes in 2010: “Simple and confident in their brevity are fragmentary figures such as the couplet ‘the ideal world has been abandoned/ the hard costume is petrifying me’, in which history and abuse, folklore and idyllic atmosphere are condensed in a minimalism that can no longer be reduced any further. The greatest density of information is achieved here, segments overlap, which place so-called customs and contemporary history in direct relation to the subject and his irredeemable longing for encounter and pacification. Grossegger's combinations of elements of perception and embodiment are always surprising in their succinctness: ‘mint green the hair grass’, ‘the frost colors the sky’.”


The volume zwirnen was published by Passagen Verlag in 2019, which the publisher describes as follows: “Starting from the original meaning of the word ‘twisting’ (twisting several threads together), different levels of consciousness, tangible external and dreamlike internal images, are twisted together. A ‘red thread’ arises from the protagonist's impressions while she is on the move, from experiences – especially with forms of power –, from reflections on them and from her attempt to gain an outside perspective through distance, a positioning in an inaccessible place comprehensible reality, where being-there is only possible in opposition.”


She talks about the ancient cultural technique of sewing (including in stitches – in 10 sentences) and about the material that poems are made of – it goes without saying that wonderful imagery comes into play here too. Sewing and embroidery is not necessarily a bloodless affair – and women of past generations sewed and embroidered – or in the case of Christine Lavant– knitted to earn a living. 


The poet works confidently and precisely with double meanings and ambiguities – when it comes to nitrogen, cross stitch, crosshairs. By accessing her material, she lays out threads that readers pick up or drop like stitches in the fabric of reception – in any case, she opens up wide spaces of association that extend to the Chinese women's fan letters – which are in a secret language passed down only among women, entertained in the times when breaking feet was “normal.” Which messages the women of the Central European regions may have communicated to each other using buttonhole stitches, hems and tendril patterns is left to individual interpretation. 


In any case, Grossegger's poems impress the reader. But the fraying also comes into its own, because if the tied thing becomes too tight, the thread can break.