Innovations and Reproductions in Cultures and Societies
(IRICS) Vienna, 9 - 11 december 2005

<< Border Zones: Travel, Fantasy and Representation

Crossing Literary Boundaries: Nico Helminger’s Poetry

Oliver S. Müller (Windhoek, University of Namibia)



Nico Helminger, born in 1953 in Differdingen, Luxembourg, is one of the most diverse writers from this small European country. His publications include poetry, prose, drama as well as libretti. Besides crossing the boundaries of traditional literary genres, Helminger also employs a number of languages in his literary works: Frequently writing in Luxemburgish and German, his latest collection of lyric poetry also includes passages of French and English.

Helminger’s poetry, a term that he has abandoned in favor for "sequences-, crosses literary boundaries in multiple ways. Besides employing various languages, Helminger, for example, also incorporates and quotes extensively from authors such as Rilke, Thoreau, Emerson and others. This results in multiple layers of sub-texts, or, to employ the title of one of his sequences, palimpsests. Furthermore, Helminger achieves musicality through his use of rhythm that also symbolizes his desire to overcome traditional boundaries. Besides these formal aspects, Helminger’s poetry often also deals with cross-border and cross-boundary movements.

This presentation will explore the multiple ways in which Nico Helminger’s poetry crosses literary boundaries. Which methods does he employ and how does he describe the process of crossing boundaries? Examples from the following editions will be analyzed:

Nico Helminger. landschaft mit seilbahn. gedichte. Echternach: éditions phi, 1986.

Nico Helminger. patton & co. gedichte. Echternach: éditions phi, 1992.

Nico Helminger. in eigener säure. sequenzen. Echternach: éditions phi, 1996.

Nico Helminger. grenzgang. sequenzen. Echternach: éditions phi, 2003.

Innovations and Reproductions in Cultures and Societies
(IRICS) Vienna, 9 - 11 december 2005

WEBDESIGN: Peter R. Horn 2005-10-11