She was born Ingrid Bernstein in Limlingerode, Prussian Saxony. She changed her first name to Sarah in order to protest against her father's anti-semitism. She studied biology in Halle and literature at the Johannes R. Becher Institute for Literature in Leipzig. In 1965, she co-wrote a book of poems with writer Rainer Kirsch, to whom she was married for ten years. She protested against East Germany's expulsion of Wolf Biermann in 1976, which led to her exclusion from the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED). One year later she left the country herself, nevertheless being critical of the west as well. She is mainly known for her poetry, but she also wrote prose and translated children's books into German.
According to complete review, "the great German-language post-war poets were largely East German (or Austrian) born in the mid to late 1930s which included towering figures such as Volker Braun, Heinz Czechowski" and Sarah Kirsch who was "the most prominent female representative of that generation."
She won many prizes and honors including the German international literary Petrarca-Preis in 1976, the Peter-Huchel Prize in 1993 and the Georg Büchner Prize in 1996. From 1960-1968 she was married to lyricist Rainer Kirsch. Sarah Kirsch died in May 2013 following a brief illness.
- Sarah Kirsch by Mererid Hopwood (1997)
- "Widely regarded German lyricist Sarah Kirsch dies". DW. May 22, 2013. Retrieved May 27, 2013.
- Shaffer, E.S. (1986). Comparative Criticism: Volume 7, Boundaries of Literature. Cambridge University Press. p. 183. ISBN 9780521332019.
- Witalec, Janet. "Kirsch, Sarah - Introduction". Gale Cengage. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
- "Sarah Kirsch (1935-2013)". complete review. May 27, 2013. Retrieved May 27, 2013.
- "Dichterin Sarah Kirsch ist tot". Der Spiegel (in German). Retrieved 22 May 2013.
- Media related to Sarah Kirsch at Wikimedia Commons