Nicolas Born was a German poet. His two novels Die erdabgewandte Seite der Geschichte and Die Fälschung have been translated into more than a dozen languages and count among the most important works of German literature of the 1970s.

Nicolas Born grew up in a lower middle-class family in the Ruhrgebiet. He worked making printing accessories in a chemical process for a large printing company in Essen until he was able - with the help of a first literary prize, the Förderpreis Nordrhein-Westfalen, for his first novel "Der Zweite Tag", to go to Berlin and live from writing. He was an autodidact, and with his poems and novel scripts soon gathered enough attention from known writers and critics like Ernst Meister, Johannes Bobrowski, Günter Grass and Hans Bender to get a scholarship for the renowned Berliner Literarisches Colloquium in Berlin in 1963/1964, where he met other young writers like Hans Christoph Buch, Hermann Peter Piwitt, Hubert Fichte, Peter Bichsel and others, and was taught by Günter Grass, Uwe Johnson, Peter Rühmkorf, Peter Weiss and others. In preparation for his stay at the Iowa International Writers Workshop in Iowa City in 1969/1970 Born read more and more contemporary American poets. In Iowa he met Charles Bukowski, Anselm Hollo, Ted Berrigan, and many others, was friends with John Batki, Allen Ginsberg, Eric Torgersen, Tom Raworth and others. In the renowned "red frame"-series "Das neue Buch" Born published in 1972 his third collection of poems "Das Auge des Entdeckers" (The eye of the explorer), largely influenced by contemporary American poetry, utopian literature and a more relaxed perspective on political effectiveness of literature than was commonly known among the politically left-oriented colleagues of his generation. The book was a great success, selling very well for a poetry-collection, and made Born together with Rolf Dieter Brinkmann one of the most important and innovative poets of his generation in Germany.

Back in Germany, Born started translating the poems of Kenneth Koch for Rowohlt Verlag, which was published only in 1973 in the same Rowohlt-series "Das neue Buch". His novels "Die erdabgewandte Seite der Geschichte" (1976, Rowohlt Verlag, translated in more than a dozen languages) and even more "Die Fälschung" (1979, "The deception"), which was published shortly before his early death in 1979 from cancer, were even bigger successes and made him one of the most important and well known left wing intellectuals of his time. His political engagements against nuclear power and what he called the "mad-system of reality" and the "world of the machine" were not only published in magazines but largely discussed in television shows of the time. His 1979 novel Die Fälschung was posthumously filmed as Die Fälschung (1981); directed by Volker Schloendorff, it starred Bruno Ganz, Hanna Schygulla and Jerzy Skolimowski.

Together with Peter Handke and Michael Krüger he was a jury member of the European literary Petrarca-Preis from when the award was founded in 1975 and onto his death.


Nicolas Born Poems

Inside the poems

You cannot make a living
competing with reality
nor can you make a living off reality
but you can survive an intrusion... more »

Horror, Tuesday

The dormant
tram tracks rapidly paved over -
waiting for the olden days again
like a return to handwriting... more »

Time machine

Without it really ever having begun
I'm in a big group of people
they seem to think my body is the homeland... more »

Nicolas Born Quotes

Comments about Nicolas Born

Eric Torgersen 27 Apr 2015 09:48
It is important to note that these poems were translated by Eric Torgersen. This credit should appear woith the poems, not in the comment section.
Eric Torgersen 27 Apr 2015 09:44
It is important to note that these poems by Nicolas Born were translated by EricTorgersen. This credit should appear with the poems, not in the comment section.