I was born Jan. 15, 1956 in Oberndorf on the upper Neckar river and grew up in nearby Voehringen, a small town of 2,500 between the Black Forest and the Swabian Jura. I started writing and painting when I was about 14 and have been at it more or less continually ever since. I've always had an affinity for the United States. Some of the first serious writers I recall reading were Americans - Sinclair Lewis (one of my favorites to this very day), Upton Sinclair, John Steinbeck. I took up studies in English, French, Spanish and Catalan at the University of Regensburg in Bavaria in 1975. Thanks to a scholarship and, later on, the Regensburg-Boulder student exchange program, I was able to study in the U.S. from 1977 on. I graduated from the University of Colorado with an M.A. in English Literature/Creative Writing in 1981. I worked as a translator and author of language instruction manuals in Boulder and Salida, Colorado, from 1981 to 1985, when I moved back to Germany with my family. I have been a busy freelance translator since then. In 2002 I moved from the country to the city of Stuttgart, capital of Baden-Wuerttemberg. I have had public readings, some in conjunction with art and music events, and am always interested in participating in performances spanning different art forms and cultures.
Writers and poets I've read and/or translated and that have influenced my own work in one way or another are Barbara Guest, James Schuyler, John Ashbery, Frank O'Hara, Kenneth Koch, Federico García Lorca, Octavio Paz, César Vallejo, Gabriel Ferrater, J.V. Foix, Max Jacob, Friedrich Hölderlin, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Alexander Lernet-Holenia, Ingeborg Bachmann, Christine Lavant. Some of my favorite other writers are Leo Tolstoy, Joseph von Eichendorff, Rudolf Steiner, Rabindranath Tagore, Carl Sternheim, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammet, James M. Cain, Anne Tyler, Jim Thompson, Walker Percy, Harry Mathews, E.M. Forster, Robert Musil, Erwin Einzinger, Leo Perutz, Irmgard Keun, Jane Austen, Juan Rulfo, R.K. Narayan, Padma Hejmadi (one of my professors at CU) and Djuna Barnes.
Art, music and film have always been important to me.
Some of my favorite painters are Klimt, Kandinsky, Klee, Beckmann, Dix, Max Ernst, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, Rufino Tamayo, Leonora Carrington, Salvador Dalí, Joan Mirò, Pieter Jansz Saenredam, Hieronymus Bosch, Velázquez, Goya, Giotto, Masaccio, Puvis de Chavannes, Jackson Pollock, Jane Freilicher, Grace Hartigan and Philip Guston. I am a painter myself and have exhibited in Reims, France, Stuttgart and other places in Germany.
As to music, I like both the serious and the popular brands. For example, Dvorak, Grieg, Debussy, Ravel, Rodrigo, de Falla, Rautavaara, Tchaikovsky, Messiaen, Ponce, Villa-Lobos, Bruckner, classical Hindustani and Karnatic music. In popular music, I have over the years accumulated a sizeable collection ranging from Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, the Rolling Stones, the Jefferson Airplane, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Richard & Linda Thompson, Phoebe Snow, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones, John Coltrane, Pat Metheny, the Velvet Underground, Joan Armatrading, Bruce Springsteen, Gianna Nannini, Mary Chapin Carpenter to popular Italian and Spanish / Latin American music, French chanson, Indian film songs and African music. Like many Germans of my generation, I do not particularly care for popular German music - with some notable exceptions like Wolfgang Ambros.
Publications e.g. in Akzente, Forum - mainzer texte, Continental Drifter, Accessories, Eat It Alive, Aspen Journal, Salt River Review, Press 62, Jacket Magazine, Del Sol Review. My translations of William Bell's young adult novel Speak to the Earth and Pete Johnson's Rescuing Dad were published by Urachhaus Verlag in 2001 and 2002. A collection of short stories entitled Die gottlosen Ameisen was published in Germany in 2003. I published End Game (short version) in 2007 and Best of Meme by James Steerforth, Leonard Blumfeld, Niebla and others (these are all pseudonymns of mine) in 2008 (details on books in print and/or to order).
Copyright © by Johannes Beilharz 2009
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