Durs Grünbein in Oxford

Words Don’t Sleep: Durs Grünbein’s Poetry of Life

A poetry reading by award-winning poet Durs Grünbein followed by a panel discussion with Michael Eskin and Karen Leeder.


One of the most significant and successful poets of his generation in Germany, Durs Grünbein is the author of more than 25 books which include volumes of poetry, libretti, essays and translations. In 2019 he was elected the Weidenfeld Visiting Professor of European Literature and published his lectures Jenseits der Literatur (Beyond Literature) in 2020, which dealt with being a writer under the shadow of German fascism. This spring, Grünbein returned to Oxford for a poetry reading of his most recent work ‘Äquidistanz’ (2022) at St Anne’s College, Oxford. Joined by Michael Eskin (critic, publisher, and author of Descartes der Metapher [Descartes of Metaphor] on Grünbein’s ‘poetic existence’) and Karen Leeder (Grünbein’s English translator, and the Schwarz-Taylor Professor of German Language and Literature in Oxford), Grünbein also engaged in a lively discussion about his most recent work.

durs gruenbein poet

The panel considered the role of personal biography and individuality, along with a variety of Grünbein’s thematic preoccupations, including the body and physicality of writing and the powerful energy of words. Leeder and Eskin spoke about the challenges facing translators in today’s climate: from questions of creative self-expression and agency, and finally, the precarious financial considerations faced by translators across the globe.