Hein, Manfred Peter

Hein, Manfred Peter
© Andreas F. Kelletat

is a German speaking poet, translator and editor. Born in 1931 in Darkehmen, in the at that time German district of East Prussia, he grew up in the Baltic Sea town Labiau (today Polessk, Kaliningrad Oblast), which left its mark in his œuvre until today: “Summercloudlywhite dreamed world edge of childhood: Curonian Lagoon and Baltic Sea” (“Sommerwolkenweiß geträumte Weltkante der Kindheit: Kurisches Haff und Ostsee”, Fluchtfährte. Zürich 1999). This résumé in his autobiographic telling Fluchtfährte (1999, Escape Trail), shows that the Baltic Sea motive hasn’t left him until today, despite having lost his homeland to occupation by Soviet forces when Hein was a teenager. The sea appears in almost each of his poems, in one way or another: “[…] what I see / what I see in time / is different: // the beach grass / repeats the swell in the sand dune, / in the wind / the dune: only like that / they suit each other […]*” (“[…] was ich seh / was ich sehe auf Zeit / ist anders: // der Strandhafer / wiederholt die Dünung im Sand, / im Wind / die Düne: nur so / passen sie zusammen […]”. Schwarzort, Kurische Nehrung, 1967).

Manfred Peter Hein has not only been recognized with international prizes for his poetic work, but for his poem translations, too. He actually considers himself a transmitter of Finnish, Finland Swedish, Lapp, Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian literatures - though the literatures boarding the Baltic Sea regions - especially in editing the literary magazine Trajekt (1981-1986) broadcasting poems oft these literatures via translations and academic explanations. The publication of different poetry anthologies (Moderne finnische Lyrik, 1962; Auf der Karte Europas ein Fleck, 1991) did not only establish Hein as an influential acclaimed Baltic Sea poet, but an acknowledged Baltic Sea translator, too. Since the beginning of the 1960s he has been living in Espoo, Finland. Since that time Hein published over a dozen volumes of poetry, he edited and published poem translations and wrote critics or rather academic interpretations about poetry, Finnish and German literature.

Literary prizes: 1975 Finnischer Staatspreis, 1984 Peter-Huchel-Preis, 1992 Förderpreis zum Horst-Bienek-Preis für Lyrik, 1999 Paul-Scheerbart-Preis, 2002 Nossack-Preis für Dichter und ihre Übersetzer, 2004 Literaturpreis Lettlands für das übersetzerische Lebenswerk, 2006 Rainer-Malkowski-Preis