Ernst Jandl (August 1, 1925, Vienna, Austria – June 9, 2000, Vienna) was an Austrian writer, poet, and translator.
Influenced by Dada he started to write experimental poetry, first published in the journal "Neue Wege" (New Ways) in 1952.
He was a good friend of Friederike Mayröcker. In 1973 he co-founded the "Grazer Autorenversammlung" in Graz, became its vice president in 1975 and was its president from 1983 to 1987.
In his poems, he plays with the German language, in many different ways, often at the level of single characters or phonemes. For example, in his famous poem "Ottos Mops" (= "Otto's Pug"), the only vowel used is "o".
Of course, poems like this cannot easily be translated into other languages.
Most of his poems are better heard than read. His lectures were always known as very impressive events, because of the particular way he pronounced his poems. Poems like "schtzngrmm" (his version of the word "Schützengraben" which describes the trenches of the World War I) can be understood only if read correctly. " schtzngrmm" is an experimental poem in which he tells the sounds of war only with combinations of letters, which sound like gunfires or detonating missiles.
He has translated Gertrude Stein, Robert Creeley's The Island, and John Cage's Silence.
Some other of his best known poems are "lichtung" (also known as "lechts & rinks", in English "light and reft")
An example of a short poem, written in English:
i never remember my second wife
i never remember my third wife
i always remember what i always remember
ain't ever even had a first wife
- "Ottos Mops" 20. November 1963;
- "Laut und Luise" 1966;
- "sprechblasen" 1968;
- "der künstliche baum" 1970;
- "idyllen" 1989;
- "Aus dem wirklichen Leben" 1999;
- Reft and Light (Providence, RI: Burning Deck, 2000); translated from the German by various American poets, ISBN 1-886224-34-X
- lechts und rinks. gedichte, statements, peppermints; Luchterhand, ISBN 3-630-62043-4, in a poor translation: "light and reft. poems, statements, peppermints"
- laut und luise; Luchterhand, ISBN 3-630-62030-2
- Interpretationen, Gedichte von Ernst Jandl; Reclam, ISBN 3-15-017519-4
- ernst jandl, aus dem wirklichen Leben: gedichte und prosa, with 66 drawings by Hans Ticha, Büchergilde Gutenberg 2000, ISBN 3-7632-4970-2