On Tuesday 22 July 2016, the Luxembourgish poet and writer Jean-Paul Jacobs died at his home in Berlin at the age 75.
Jean Jacobs was born in Esch-Alzette in 1941, and was an influential voice in literature in Luxembourg to which he always remained firmly attached– despite having moved from the country. After having studied music, history and Latin, he moved to Berlin in 1966, following the advice of the Austrian writer H.C. Artmann, and has lived there ever since. After working different jobs, he was employed by the Berlin State Library from 1975 to 2006.
Jean-Paul Jacobs wrote for the most part in German; the imaginary telephone conversations with Roger Manderscheid were written in Luxembourgish. He debuted in the 1960s with poems in the tradition of experimental poetry and short stories, in which he combined ideological criticism with literary and cinematic patterns of popular culture in parodic intention. Characteristic of his later, often ironic and melancholic poetry, are role poems that often use the backdrop of courtly culture from the 16th to the 18th centuries, giving rise to a coordinated system of European literature and music through allusions and references. For his book of poetry Jenes Gedicht & Mit nichts he received the Prix Servais in 2005.
Jean-Paul Jacobs was creatively active until the very end. His last book of poetry was published last week. In the preface the author describes the paintings of Clôt Jacobs, saying that they were “in their freedom, their timelessness, in their goodness and beauty, their lightness and their humour, their craftsmanship and their intellectual tolerance to the qualities that help us become the people we want to be.” These words could aptly characterise his own compositions.