Peter Maiwald (1946-2008)

5. 12. 2008 | Rubriky: Articles,Lives

[by Ken Hunt, London] The German writer Peter Maiwald died on 1 December in Düsseldorf. Born in Grötzingen in the West German state of Baden-Württemberg on 8 November 1946, he gravitated to the left. He moved to Munich in 1968 before moving to Neuss in 1970. During this period he was establishing himself as a freelance writer before going on to co-found the magazine Düsseldorfer Debatte. Parenthetically, one has only to think of the Putney Debates during the English Revolution for a sense of the meaning of debate.

Maiwald’s writings were in part under the sway of the Brechtian model and he wrote agitprop poetry, songs and lyrics for Kabarett ensembles such as the Düsseldorf-based Kom(m)ödchen and Stuttgart’s Renitenz-Theater. Over the subsequent years he would produce a body of work that expanded to include translation, screenplays, essays and plays and talks for radio. The turning-point came with Maiwald’s Balladen von Samstag auf Sonntag (‘Ballads from Saturday till Sunday’, 1984). On its publication Marcel Reich-Ranicki, the important literary critic of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, heaped praise on it calling it nothing short of an “event” (Ereignis) as well as hailing him as belonging to the year’s first rank of poets.

From 1975 until the end of his life Maiwald was responsible for a score or so of books, amongst them Geschichten vom Arbeiter B. (‘Stories from Worker B.’, 1975), Wortkino (‘Word cinema’, 1993), 100 Geschichten (‘100 Stories’, 2004) and a book of poems for children co-authored with Hildegard Müller von Hanser, Die Mammutmaus sieht wie ein Mammut aus (‘The Mammoth Mouse looks like a Mammoth’, 2006).

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