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Jo Kern reading from Hans-Jürgen Hilbig's Novel 'Hainchen'

By Katrina Friese

A village named 'Hainchen' used to be on the site of today's 'Leihgestern' (...)
According to tradition.

The perfect Elke.
(...) On Tuesday evening there was a reading in the 'Kümmerei' with the Munich-based actress Jo Kern.
In the series 'Elke erzählt' (Elke tells stories), the Giessen-based poet and author has published short stories about the absurdity of everyday life.

About 15 years ago, Hilbig got in contact with the actress Jo Kern, qhom he had seen on a title page of a magazine and immediately thought her to be predestined for his character Elke.
Ever since, the expressive acress has read his texts and the choice couldn't have been a better match, as the part of Elke seems to have been written exactly for Jo Kern. Even the most absurd thought and stories seem to be completely normal and comprehendible when Jo Kern reads in her very own, unique and entertainig way.
Since 2005, Hilbig's stories have been available as audio books read by Jo Kern.
(...) A very varied evening, excellently presented and featuring extremely entertaining literature.

TIFF/Kultur 10.05.2008 

Klaus- J. Frahm GIESSEN.

(...) Thursday evening in the antiquarian bookshop 'Dichtung und Kunst' (Poetry and Art), Seltersweg 55, the audience immersed itself in the snares of the poet's phantasy world.
For the third time, actress Jo Kern was the hiking guide.
Her reading of Hilbig's lyrics is also available on CD(...)
Hilbig told the story about how the TV program, which comes with the daily paper, slid out one day and Jo Kern smiled at him from the front cover. Since ten, Jo wasn't to leave the poet alone.
When the internet ws available in Hilbig's new home in 1998, the first search the poet entered was her. And thus he found Jo Kern.
Hilbig immediately sent her the collected lyrics about the character of Elke who looked exactl like the actress in his fantasy.
After a few emails, aome with poems and new prose lyrics, the answer came from Munich. This is how a fertile collaboration began, from which the third reading in Gießen arose, along with the CD.
The audience experoenced ahumorous reading. (:::) Finally, alively conversation began with the audience. Then the poet and the actress eagerly signed CDs for the audience.

Jo Kern at her performance in Gießen 

TIFF/Kultur 22.08.2006

(...) and Kern proved to be the perfectly cast to present the odd lyrics, just like a year ago. With apparently easy overview she worked out nuances, never let her sensual voice sound too husky and encountered the peculiar poetic language with a relaxed sense of humour.
This way, it was possible to get used to Hilbig's weird handling of meanings, his paradoxical detour with words and, of course, his wit.
"When two chairs understand each other, a furniture store opens somewhere in the world" - the way Jo reads that, is pure poetry. (...)

IdeaL InterpretER fOR Hilbig's LYRICS
Actress Jo Kern presented the Audio CD "Elke erzählt". 

GIESSEN (hsc).

Hans-Jürgen Hilbig is a poet from Gießen.
The author, however, never rhymes; moreover he puts everyday things together into ideas and pictures in a chaotic way, ehich again, can be described as incoherent.
Until one gets to judge this, one has to either snigger, giggle or laugh. Now it got even better:
The actress, Jo Kern, superbly read lyrics from Hilbig's new audio CD 'Elke erzählt' at Bau & Raum.
Now you finally know who Elke is - and what she sounds like (...).
To come to the point: Kern is the pefect cast for Hilbi's works. She approaches these lyrics with a swing and at the same time a humorous disrespect which at first is infectios.
Hilbig's element is the collection of images which are alienated in a paradoxical way: "watching earthworms peeing" and ultra-dry, self-ironic hard stop: "This can't be true. But such a sentence, once written down, deserves to stay."
This is understood and when Kern smirks at the audience, you wonder, what you ever found peculiar about Hilbig's weird thing?
The actress manages to get to the heart of what characterises the author, in a precise, slick way with unobtrusive sensuality: the language is always right, the content never (...)
However, it is certain that one can be inspired and stimulated by Hilbig's artfully piled-up, witty and fanciful stacking of images and ideas.
Especially when Jo Kern reads this as if all this is completely normal.