Elisabeth Schmeidel

Elisabeth Schmeidel

Elisabeth Schmeidel (1945-2012) was born in Austria. Her father Herrmann von Schmeidel, a conductor in Salzburg, and her mother, Eleonora von Arbesser Rastburg, named her after the writer Bettina von Arnim, but she was baptized Elisabeth, absent any saint named Bettina. After attending Gymnasium, she passed the entrance exam with honors for the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna, where she studied with Prof. Szykowitz. She moved with husband and daughter to Los Angeles in 1968, and began writing seriously. In 1976, due to different circumstances, she returned to Salzburg and began a teaching career in secondary schools. Having left a suitcase of written work, she died in 2012. She’s virtually unknown in English, save for a few translations I’ve published in the 70s (in Field, Malahat Review). I’m preparing a Selected Poems, and scaneg Verlag/Munich will soon publish the German twin-volume in Europe. Note: Her parents “settled” for Elisabeth because there was no Saint Bettina. They admired Bettina von Arnim, a writer Goethe knew and also admired, by the by. And “Bettina” she was during the some 47 years I knew her, though she moved among several surnames over the course of her life: mostly Schmeidel till she married Peter Grubbauer (a promising architect who died at 60) and used his name for a spell, legally & artistically, till they divorced in the late 60s; then Behn, after Aphra Behn, a much admired woman writer & daring spy in what was then primarily a male world. Her life as a spy much intrigued Bettina. Incidentally, I was quite surprised, when considering what name to publish the forthcoming collection under, how definite Pia was that her mother wanted to return to her birth name in her last years…
—Stuart Friebert
We would like to thank daughter Pia Grubbauer for permission to print the poems aboard SCANT HOURS: Selected Poems of Elisabeth Schmeidel (1945-2012) coming from Pinyon Publishing in 2018 in Friebert’s translations, with an introduction by Thomas Wild, the distinguished Germanist. Many of the poems have appeared, and others will yet appear before the collection is published, in Copper Nickel, Field, Malahat Review, Plume, Voyages et al.
Elisabeth Schmeidel has contributed the following content: