Interview with Michael Buergermeister

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Writing interlinks one's emotions, one's reason and one's experience. The writer taps into energy, which is, in itself, an electrifying experience (All art is essentially energy). This generates both excitement and joy. The difficult part is funneling the energy into a functioning structure (Every artist has also to be an architect). To do this takes many years of experience, much patience and a willingness to take risks (Artworks don't always work, for a whole variety of often banal reasons). At the same time all art has a unifying, ordering function. This is why writing is soothing, satisfying and relaxing. It is only when one successfully links one's reason to one's experience and emotions and harnesses the latter that a work can be any good. The joy of creating good work is sublime (especially after years of hard work).
Why did you make this book?
I made a documentary film about W.H.Auden but unfortunately no film festival showed any interest in the subject. The film itself is of exceptional quality as Peter Stein, one of the greatest directors on earth, has readily attested. The advantage of an ebook over a film is that it is more readily available. Several years after premiering the film at Christ Church, Oxford, I decided to turn my screenplay, which is essentially a collection of interviews, into an ebook and am extremely pleased with the result. The book form has the added advantage of being more fitting to a subject such as a poet. I personally think that this book might well be the most important work on Auden ever produced and think it would be a shame if this information were ever to get lost. The reason I picked an ebook is that it is both a modern and a democratic form.
What do your fans mean to you?
If someone told Auden that they liked one of his poems he would say: "I wrote it for you." Art is always for someone. For an artist to develop he or she must get feedback. Ideally it is intelligent, perceptive and educated but this need not be the case. Affirmation always helps. This is why fans, especially discerning ones, are important.
What are you working on next?
I am currently working on a novel inspired by Thomas Bernhard, which is set in Vienna. It deals with the themes of families, theatre, art and politics.
What is your writing process?
I write about things that move, anger or excite me. I usually write very quickly, put the text aside and then revise at a later date. Ideally a short story or a play has to be written at considerable speed. The reader should sense both the excitement and sincerity with which a text has been written.
Who are your favorite authors?
Joyce, Shakespeare, Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Dante, Proust, Musil, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Eliot, Auden, Plath, Wharton, Bernhard, Handke & Mann.
What influenced you to become a writer?
What influenced me most of all was my mother who was Irish and who wanted to write herself. Nothing was more sacred to her than writing. She was forever talking of Shakespeare, Auden and Yeats. We consequently spent our summers writing and reading in the family's garden house in Vienna. All three children were essentially brought up to be writers. It was also my father's secret ambition and he was extremely proud of me when I became a writer.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing at a very early age. I must have been seven or eight. At the age of thirteen I was compared to Tolstoy and when at school I won short story competition after short story competition. It was only after I completed university and was offered the chance to write a screenplay by a successful film production company that I realized that I could indeed become a professional writer.
How important are critics?
Critics, if they are intelligent, perceptive and constructive are extremely helpful, if not not. There is nothing worse than destructive criticism, which has the sole purpose of bolstering the critic's ego. A critic should be extremely knowledgeable on the one hand and be dedicated to serving art on the other. He or she must never forget the higher good, which is to strive for perfection in art.
What's the story behind your latest book?
"W. H. Auden, The Life and Love of a Poet" is the result of ten years of hard work. I began working on a documentary film project about Auden's life in 2006 and finally completed it in 2012. Since then I have been working on a variety of different projects including a book of short stories and a collection of plays. The joy of publishing led to my decision to publish an ebook based on the screenplay.
Published 2016-02-14.
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Books by This Author

W. H. Auden, The Life and Love of a Poet
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 14,130. Language: English. Published: February 14, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Literary biography
W.H. Auden (1907-1973) was an English poet, playwright, and essayist. "W. H. Auden, The Life and Love of a Poet" is a series of interviews with friends and family and provides a unique, fascinating and invaluable insight into the private world of W.H.Auden. It is of interest both to scholars and general readers and deals with themes as varied as: sex, love, religion, ideas, poetry, craft and art.