Not "Man or Woman," But Rather "What Kind of Power Structure Is This?": Elke Erb in Conversation with Birgit Dahlke
- Women in German Yearbook: Feminist Studies in German Literature & Culture
- University of Nebraska Press
- Volume 13, 1997
- pp. 133-150
- Additional Information
Not "Man or Woman," But Rather "What Kind of Power Structure Is This?" Elke Erb in Conversation with Birgit Dahlke1 Birgit Dahlke: I'm interested in your perspective on the role of women writers in the unofficial journal scene. Elke Erb: There were almost no women, but then again I can't really say anything about it because I wasn't with them. Ask Bert Papenfuß or others why they think women in the scene didn't write. Men's opinions on this are not part of my topic. Nor is it only the "Prenzlauer Berg. " There were women who wrote, maybe more on the periphery of the "scene" in Berlin, for instance, in Karl-Marx-Stadt, Leipzig, Erfurt. . . What do you mean by "on the periphery"? Kerstin Hensel, for example, is herself a center. I wouldn't talk about the periphery there. Barbara Köhler's tongue only loosened up later on. Then there's one, Heike WiIlingham . Recently, at a reading on Gerhard Wolf's birthday, I thought how amazing it is that one of us could already have been so successful in the West. It's a kind of further development of conventional literature__ With Kerstin Hensel it's not possible to say such a thing, neither theoretically nor directly, although she does ask: So, what was going on there in the Prenzlauer Berg anyway? What did I miss there? She tends to stick with Karl Mickel's poetic structure. Then there are a lot of tricks. . . It's strange that in some of the texts one feels that a bit of the old codes are "scrubbed away," and in others not. That's strange. How do you pin down these differences? That's hard to describe. What first comes to mind is an inadequate word, democratization, a word that will have to do. Heike uses metaphorical fish, forms that fly in the air, doesn't she? "I" metaphors. The goal is not to improve or correct the given circumstances. That is basically parasitic. She makes use of what she puts in. It's very difficult for me to pinpoint the transitions. Women in German Yearbook 13 (1997) 134Elke Erb in Conversation with Birgit Dahlke For many of the women writers I have asked, you are the only olderpoet they mention as an important point of reference and as a mentor ofsorts. Mentor—that's going too far: It's written in all of the articles. Not to be taken seriously. Nothing is true about that! Were you a part of it? How would you know about it? Wait a minute, I simply asked the younger ones about traditions and important writers, and almost all of them mentioned your name exclusively . It's not uncommon that someone makes you out to be an ideal so that they can secure their own shrine. And that with me, who never had a shrine anywhere for myself. / do understand what you're resisting: this cliché of being the mother of the "scene. " Atfirst, I did not in the least intend to include your texts in my work. Ijust wanted tofocus on my own generation. However, at some point, all of the conversations turned to your texts__ If it's like that, then I'll have to concede a bit. It certainly has to do with the fact that your texts represent a particular inspiration for writers . . . Are you sure? The women writers talk about the texts and not about the person. Until now, I haven't come across any writers who would have said that, except for the Swiss writer lima Rakusa, whom I simply have to believe when she says that she was inspired. Just as Friederike Mayröcker constantly inspires me because she always changes, varies, entices. I actually have more the feeling that I have readers than that people are inspired by me in their writing. When people tell me that they like to read my work, then I immediately understand it. While writing, I have never considered the other perspective (that readers might be inspired by me when they write), but obviously such a perspective exists. The way I write is also to confirm the existence...