Erika Burkart in the SLA

Erika Burkart
Erika Burkart reading in her study
© Ernst Halter (ca. 1990)

Erika Burkart (1922−2010) spent much of her life at the Kapf house, the summer residence of the abbots of Muri Abbey near Aristau (AG). After training as a primary school teacher, she teaches for a number of years at various schools, before deciding in 1955 to devote herself entirely to writing. She was married to the writer Ernst Halter.

Erika Burkart’s artistic existence revolves around the tension between the sense of home and rootlessness, while her literary cosmos is focused on nature and the landscape. These spaces are endowed with a symbolic character, as the writer uses them to explore the fundamental issues of her poetic being: the myth of childhood and expulsion from that paradise, humans’ alienation from themselves and from nature and the cosmos, love, death and mourning, and the potential and limitations of language are just some of the topics that she translates into compelling, consistently novel linguistic images. 

The early volumes of poems (Der dunkle Vogel, 1953; Sterngefährten, 1955; Geist der Fluren, 1958; Bann und Flug, 1956) lay the foundations for Erika Burkart’s world. In the landscape, its trees and moors, she discovers a mythical prehistory and also a reflection of her own soul. Over time, she becomes increasingly aware of the distance between human and nature. 

The sufferings of people living «cut off from their angelic roots» are the theme of the novels Moräne (1970) and Rufweite (1975). Yet despite that dreadful knowledge, there is still room for utopias: the volume of poetry entitled Sternbild des Kindes (1984) offers a brief moment of reconciliation between the contradictions inherent in love and art. 

The diary-like text of Grundwasserstrom (2000) signalled a new departure in her writing. Her final work, Geheimbrief (2009), reflects the struggle for words to ward off approaching death.

Last modification 15.12.2020

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