Following graduation from studies in the field of electronic data analysis, Jan Faktor worked as a programmer in Prague. Together with his wife, he moved to East Berlin in 1978 for personal reasons and found employment as a locksmith and kindergarten teacher, but also engaged heavily in the independent literary scene. Through his numerous experimental texts, Faktor enriched the group of authors belonging to the “Prenzlauer-Berg-Connection”.
Although the German language was foreign to him, he gradually gained his own perspective on its usage and challenged its artistic and political conventions as well as those of the independent literary scene. In 1983, he published his four part “Manifest of Trivial Poetry” (Manifest der Trivialpoesie) and one year later, together with Papenfuß and Stefan Döring, another manifest “Zoro in Skorne”. He became a regular at apartment, studio and courtyard readings and he released his writings in Samizdat form.
Jan Faktor's texts often parodied techniques which are utilized linguistically to enhance meaning. These include repetition (for emphasis) and the usage of comparatives. Faktor's techniques are on display in his 23-page long poem "George's Worries about the Future" ("Georgs Sorgen um die Zukunft") from the volume "George's Attempts at a Poem and Other Positive Texts from the Poet's Garden of Horror" („Georgs Versuche an einem Gedicht und andere positive Texte aus dem Dichtergarten des Grauens“). Through the inclusion of meaningless albeit grammatically correct suprelatives ("the eight-hour working day becomes more eight hourly", etc.), the nonsense of the ideologically motivated and delusional degrees of comparison present in the official language of the GDR are laid bare. In other poems, the author constructs sentences without regard to German conventions for doing so thereby producing comical results.
In 1989, he became a member of the New Forum (Neuen Forum) and later an employee of the first GDR Civil Rights Movement weekly, The Others (Die Andere). Since the 1990s, Faktor has reflected retrospectively on the character of the independent literary scene of the GDR on multiple occasions in his own writings as well as in interviews.
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- Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
Author(s) of this page
- Sonnenberg, Uwe