Judith Nika Pfeifer

- Austria -

Judith Nika Pfeifer writes poetry, prose and plays. Her texts appear in Austrian and German literary magazines and anthologies, such as „kolik“, „Literatur und Kritik“, „the gap“, „Lichtungen“ and „Leaf Garden“. In 2008, together with munich poet Augusta Laar, she founded viennapoetics.

She experiments with and performs in transmedia art projects in Vienna, Berlin, Edinburgh, Helsinki, Montreal, Munich.

Books published in German: manchmal passiert auch minutenlang gar nichts / sometimes nothing really happens, really (2015). between. Prose (2015). zwischen. Prosa (2014). nichts ist wichtiger. ding kleines du / nothing is more important. thing little you (2012).

Her critically acclaimed recent book zwischen, a collection of short stories, was awarded the Buchprämie 2014 by the Federal Chancellory of Austria. sometimes nothing really happens, really received the Buchprämie 2015.

Other prizes, invitations, and awards: Reinhard-Priessnitz-Prize 2012. Writer in Residence Paliano, Italy 2016. Villa Waldberta Residency Munich, 2015. Writer in Residence of the City Ptuj, Slovenia 2015. seestadt aspern 2014. Artist Residency Schloss Wiepersdorf, Germany 2014.

Her poems have been translated into English, Chinese, Spanish, Hindi, Malayam, French, Italian, Slovenian, Serbian, Polish, Belarusian.

Judith Nika transfers her education as a communication scientist and philologist into her texts in a very idiosyncratic and distinctive way.

Michaela Schmitz (Deutschlandfunk) comments this truly refreshing approach towards world and being by means of poetic power as follows:

„Life is an eyeflash. A glowing, a pling, a SMS on the display. Then waiting again. Always in readiness for the next message the networked human lives in permanent hope for these short moments of digital enlightenment. Digital infinity before and afterwards. (…) Out of hardly any words poems arise between digital mantra and nursery rhyme, philosophic aphorism and magic formula. Between the words a permanent flashing of recognition: there are infinite many things between zero and one, which we don’t understand. But Pfeifer is not looking for a new transcendentalism in her aphoristic texts; nor does she deliver ready-made, handy-sized pocket philosophy. Her playful and lightweight poems are a sensual, joyful, sometimes melancholic, often humorous poetic search for her own post-digital poetic identity.“

It is fascinating, how the poet by means of reduction – partly aimed not only at dropping, but also at placing vacancies – knows how to create suspension.

In a quite emphatic way she succeeds in creating suspension in her most recent book of poetry manchmal passiert auch minutenlang gar nichts (Neue Lyrik aus Österreich, Band 9, Berger 2015) – a very coherent title, which at the same time contradicts these poems, in which the pace is dominated by concerted breathlessness. At times the poems are very complex, waiting to be cracked, playing with codes, which at first sight refuse to be decoded, and sometimes they are quite trusting and approach the reader in a playful way, but caution! There is no guarantee that you won’t be caught in the trap, no guarantee that the poem would not start to burn, to explode, who knows?

Like the poet states: „I take a double-look at the evil, at the beautiful, at the eternal, I put snapshots in between the indifference of medial observing, i.e. a contemporary deception of perceiving, I stagger between fighting (against what?), feelings of faint, vague hopes and the dreaming of evading (where to?). The short texts, poems deal about everyday life, about love, loss of love, friendship, war, about a wood as retreat and antithesis of a stressed, digital world at the same time.“

Concepts not only get new meanings, Judith Nika Pfeifer also offers new creations – that means work for the synapses! – and at the very moment the reader thinks to have reached the safe side, the „punster“ relentlessly sweeps the reader from the comfortable, from the wingchair of the familiar, from the retro-idyll – into the flaming of her „conceptual heat“.

manchmal passiert auch minutenlang gar nichts – this may be also interpreted as a false-bottomed challenge – that’s for example an old, but effective theatre gimmick, leaving the audience completely bewildered, like an obviously eternal long shot in an experimental movie – this is a shrewd request to ask oneself what happens, when nothing happens for minutes.


„Judith Nika Pfeifer generates the words, but what seems to be incidental in her poems, never is random. This cunning poet whets appetite for language and for always new poetry.“

(Doron Rabinovici)


„Yes, yes, yes! I was fascinated by this! I remember: this was 1 such vivid, young, fresh poem!“

(Friederike Mayröcker about „nichts ist wichtiger“)


„Judith Nika Pfeifer mostly plans her texts like a mother-of-pearl around a tantalising poetic grain of sand. Often only a vacancy remains, sometimes a concept or even only a noise, impossible to be assigned.

(Helmuth Schönauer)