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The Kleist Prize of 2023 goes to the writer and musician Thomas Kunst, born in Stralsund in 1965. In keeping with the tradition of the Kleist Prize, the author Feridun Zaimoglu – as a person of trust chosen by the jury of the Heinrich von Kleist Society – has chosen Thomas Kunst as the prize winner under his sole responsibility.
His reasoning is:
"Thomas Kunst is the most language-obsessed and heart-crazy German poet of our time. In his poems and novels he dares to break with the usual and the same old. In his northern stubbornness, he transcends imaginary boundaries: he is East German and urbane, brilliant and resistant to the present. He can weave wreaths of sonnets just as well and powerfully as he can illustrate the splendid insignificance of happiness in poems (e.g. in the volumes of poetry The Worker on the Ice, 2013, or Colonies and Cufflinks, 2017). He never allows himself to be seduced by the compulsion to be up to date. As a fantastic extremist He also masterfully succeeds in the fight against the usual metaphor. His verses shine because he knows reality in its beautiful details. It is no coincidence that he admires Thomas Brasch and Nicolas Born. Anyone who reads Thomas Kunst will love it, no longer without his words to want to get along."
The Kleist Prize is endowed with 20,000 euros and is supported by the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media and the states of Berlin and Brandenburg.