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Exhibit features poet’s works

Liz Lefevbre | Thursday, February 12, 2009

The prominent exhibit “Writing Against War” featuring the life and works of renown Austrian-born poet Ingeborg Bachmann will open on the second floor of the Hesburgh Library Thursday at 5 p.m.

The multi-media display focuses specifically on the theme of war throughout Bachmann’s life and literary achievements.

The ceremony will feature a presentation and reading by poet and Bachmann translator Peter Filkins of Bard College. A reception will follow the event.

The exhibit will be on display at Notre Dame through March 8. This is the first stop on the exhibit’s United States tour, though it has been traveling throughout Europe since 2003. The Austrian Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs provided the exhibit and it has already appeared at 57 different locations and been translated into seven languages.

Bachmann, a famous writer of poems, radio plays, short stories, novels and literary theory essays, became one of the leading voices in post-war German literature. Her works represent a large body of anti-war writing, as she used language to challenge the chronic state of war in the world. Each year a prestigious award is given out in her name and memory to an outstanding work of Germanophone literature.

German professor and Nanovic Institute fellow, Anita McChesney was responsible for bringing the exhibit to Notre Dame.

“Ingeborg Bachmann’s works present singular vision of literary protests against wars that touched her life, and they reflect both a criticism of war’s atrocities as well as the continued hope for peace,” McChesney said. “This exhibit offers a great opportunity to inspire us to seek to change how we respond to injustice. Given the current relevance of war and the atrocities of war in our 21st century society, I wanted to bring a poetic voice into the discussion.”

McChesney also hopes that the exhibit will provide exposure one of Austria’s most renowned poets to students and faculty who are not as familiar with her and the significance of her works.

“I wanted to give students the chance to experience an Austrian writer through her works and through images of her life and the European context in which she wrote.”

One of the overall goals of displaying the exhibit at Notre Dame is to strengthen the commitment of students who have resolved to make a difference in the world.

“I hope that as the students read Bachmann’s poetry, are moved by the beauty of the language, the pain reflected in the words, but also the light of hope that continually drove her to write, they will reflect on these core missions,” said McChesney.

As Bachmann herself focused on needing simple peace as a foundation for far-reaching cultural projects, McChesney hopes that this exhibit can inspire others to this same objective.

“I hope that this exhibit empowers all of us to work tirelessly for such goals as B Bachmann did, even when they may at times seem unattainable.”