To this day there is an aura of mystery around the poet Wolfgang Hilbig, who was born in 1941 and died in 2007. He grew up without a father in the small town of Meuselwitz near Leipzig, left school at fourteen and worked as an unskilled labourer in various sectors before ‘rising’ to the rank of stoker at an industrial plant. During and after work he wrote, but his texts met with official rejection in East Germany. In 1985 he moved to West Germany. Despite winning virtually every major literary prize, including the 2002 Georg Büchner Prize, he remained an outsider and cut a singular figure on the publishing scene.