Twelve Nordic-Language Poets: Faroese, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish

Faroese-Language Poets: Guðrið Helmsdal, Tóroddur Poulsen, and Kim Simonsen
Icelandic-Language Poets: Einar Már Guðmundsson, Kristín Ómarsdóttir, and Kristín Svava Tómasdóttir
Norwegian-Language Poets: Terje Dragseth, Henrik J. Ibsen, and Ingrid Storholmen
Swedish-Language Poets: Bengt Berg, Stig Dagerman, and Jila Mossaed

Translated By: Ørjan Amundsen, Bengt Berg, Sarah M. Brownsberger, Nancy Naomi Carlson, Lo Dagerman, Pål Gumpen, Bradley Harmon, Irmeli Kuehnel, K.B. Thors, and Randi Ward

Introduction

Welcome to the twenty-seventh issue of the Poetry Translations section. After featuring Danish-language poems in LRR Vol. 18, No. 1, we are now expanding our poetry fascinations to other Nordic languages.

Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Faroese, and Icelandic are North Germanic languages that stem from the same common tongue spoken by the Vikings. For centuries, the Nordic states and territories have been parts of various unions. As a result, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland have close cultural links. Norway was part of political unions with Denmark and Sweden, which heavily influenced the development of what is today called the Norwegian language. Swedish, Sweden’s national language and one of Finland’s, is spoken by 10 million people, the most among the five languages. Some 80,000 people speak Faroese—the language of the 18 Faroe Islands and some inhabitants of Denmark and Iceland. Modern Icelandic, with 350,000 native speakers, is the closest language to Old Norse still in use today.

Many of the poets and translators with whom I’ve been in contact while preparing this issue live in more than one Nordic language—not to mention English—and often their works have been translated for publication in the other languages. In LRR, we are publishing two poets whose works written in Danish appeared in the previous issue (Danish-language poets), and their poems written in Faroese are presented here. Ibsen wrote his plays in Danish, the poems included here in Norwegian. One of the featured Swedish-language authors came all the way from Iran and now writes in both Persian and Swedish.

Poems, poets and their translators in this issue of LRR cross borders. Like the midwife in the Icelandic poems, crossing the river in a storm, risking her and her horse’s life, to bring out a new life, or at least to bring consolation. On a daily basis, philosophically or physically, they traverse diverse terrain and leave a mark.

The showcased works and bios introduce the poets and translators, crack the door ajar for the readers to open them wider, to explore. I saw the issue grow from two poets to five, then to a dozen; from two translators to ten. There must be a reason for this group to appear here. I found them and brought them together for mingling and sharing, inviting readers to enter their realms.

The journey begins with the least spoken languages of the five. I invite you to get immersed in the landscapes and weathers of the languages, nature, human history, souls.

Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka
Loch Raven Review, Translations Editor

.

Guðrið Helmsdal
Translated from Faroese by Randi Ward

Morning Frost

Morning frost

Flight of ravens

Windborne
wings


Morgunfrost

Morgunfrost

Ravnaflog

Vindbornir
veingir

.

Heading Home

Came running once
to catch
a packed streetcar
– it was snowing

Once there was a streetcar
full of strangers
on their way home

Once there were strangers
on their way home
– snow was falling
through the city-tinged sky

Then I recognized you
on my way home
– you among the strangers


Á Heimveg

Kom einaferð rennandi
skuldi uppí ein sporvogn
sum var stúgvandi fullur
– tað kavaði

Einaferð ein sporvognur
fullur av fremmandafólki
á heimveg.

Einaferð fremmandafólk
á heimveg
– tað kavaði í royðurúmd

Tá kendi eg teg
eg á heimveg
– tú millum fremmandafólk

.

Autumn Mountains

Afternoon’s autumnal
mountains

Amber
in the evaporating sun

Drinking
from the tarn


Heystfjøll

Seinraparts-heystfjøll

Gulbrún
í vátari sól

Leska sær
við tjørn

.

.

Tóroddur Poulsen
Translated from Faroese by Randi Ward

The Source

the page
comes to life
rises up
about me
like a cage
accusing me
in my own
handwriting
that i am
the source
of all
loneliness


Upphavið

pappírið
livnar
reisist upp
rundan um meg
sum eitt búr
ákærir meg
við egnu
skrift míni
at eg eri
upphavið
til alla
einsemi

.

Landscapes

landscapes
only exist
in paintings
that hang
in houses
that have
ruined
landscapes


Landsløgini

landsløgini
eru bara til
í málningum
ið hanga
í húsum
sum hava
oyðilagt
landsløgini

.

.

Kim Simonsen
Translated from Faroese by Randi Ward

#3

Today still holds the same blue toothbrush
and blue anti-plaque toothpaste,
                        it smacks of 1977
when I visited my grandma at the hospital in Klaksvík.
Four years later, on another day
when the winter sun gilded everything,
                        she died.
Stjørnan played a draw against Kyndil that day
                        at the handball arena in Klaksvík.
The Danish frigate Peder Skram accidentally fired a Harpoon-missile
and blew up four summer cottages on the island of Zealand.
61-year-old Barney Clark became the first person
to receive an artificial heart.
All nine planets aligned on the same side of the sun.

.

#3

Enn er dagurin sama bláa tannbustin
og bláa anti-plakk-tannkremið,
                        ið smakkar av 1977,
tá eg vitjaði ommu mína á sjúkrahúsinum í Klaksvík.
Fýra ár seinni, ein annan dag,
har vetrarsólin litaði alt gylt,
                        doyði hon.
Tann dagin spældi Stjørnan javnleik móti Kyndli í
                        KÍ-høllini.
Fregattin Peder Skram sendi eitt Harpoon-missil
og sprongdi fýra summarhús á Sælandi í luftina.
61 ára gamli Barney Clark gjørdist fyrsti persónurin,
sum fekk eitt mannagjørt hjarta.
Allar 9 gongustjørnur stóðu á rað somumegin sólina.

.
.

#4

Dear grandma,
while the world revolves
around itself,
we smile
and slowly
disappear
without a trace.

.

#4

Góða omma,
meðan jørðin melur
um seg sjálva,
hvørva vit
brosandi
og spakuliga
uttan spor.

.
.

#5

Heidegger wrote that everyday life
and the world speak to you
through boredom:
through the milk on your porridge,
the ink on the envelopes, on the table,
with the red and green Swedish stamps on them,
the empty wine bottles lined up in the cabinet,
the guttered stubs of candles in candlesticks,
the ridiculously low balance in your bank account,
the scrolling newsticker (more deaths in the Arab world).
That’s how this day is going
and so went the others.

.

#5

Heidegger skrivaði um dagin,
at gjøgnum keðsemið
kalla gerandisdagurin
og heimurin á teg.
Hann er sum mjólkin í havragreytinum,
blekkið á brøvunum á borðinum
við reyðum og grønum svenskum frímerkjum á,
riðilin av tómum vínfløskum í skápinum,
niðurbrunnu stearinljósini í stakunum,
láturliga upphæddin á kontuni,
tekstsjónvarpið (fleiri deyð í arabiska heiminum).
Soleiðis er hasin dagur
og hinir eisini.

.

.

Einar Már Guðmundsson
Translated from Icelandic by Sarah M. Brownsberger

I

Take the sky
and hang it in your window.
If God comes along with it
you are lucky
but not at all unlucky
if he went somewhere else.
Then he just has yet to come.

I try to pull words from the emptiness,
from the rain and the fog,
but, outside, each record heat surpasses the last.
What is being contested?

As I understand, it’s all about light.
It was here in the beginning and is here still.
But soon darkness will come.
Then we will brighten.


I

Taktu himininn
og hengdu hann út í glugga.
Ef guð fylgir með ertu heppinn
en alls ekki óheppinn
ef hann fór eitthvað annað.
Þá kemur hann bara seinna.

Ég reyni að toga orðin út úr auðninni,
rigningunni og þokunni,
en úti er hvert hitamet slegið.
Um hvað er verið að metast?

Mér skilst að þetta snúist allt um ljós.
Það var hér í upphafi og er hér enn.
En bráðum fer að dimma.
Þá birtir yfir okkur.

.

IV

A mirror talks in its sleep,
drinks reality in.
Outside, the clouds are reflected, sail the sky
like ships bound for port.

How many seaports in the sky?
Ask the mirror, before reality awakes
and the silence takes over.
The silence is thirsty, like the clouds.

All this takes place in the soul.
The words glide through the sky
and ascend from the depths,
enter the ports
and reflect in the clouds
as colors do in light.


IV

Spegill talar upp úr svefni,
drekkur í sig veruleikann.
Úti speglast skýin, sigla um himininn
einsog skip á leið til hafnar.

Hvað eru margar hafnarborgir á himnum?
Spurðu spegilinn, áður en veruleikinn vaknar
og þögnin tekur við.
Hún er þyrst einsog skýin.

Þetta gerist allt í sálinni.
Orðin svífa um himininn
og stíga upp úr djúpinu,
ganga inn í borgirnar
og spegla sig í skýjunum
einsog litirnir í ljósinu.

.

XIV

Shall we ask the archaeologists for an answer,
or would the prophets like to comment?
This poem is not in its right mind.

I am not in my right mind.
What is a right mind?
It’s a long time since I’ve composed a poem
and a short time since women got the right to vote,
and time is like water, and with time

dripping water will hollow out stone  …

…  I wake up with the answer on my lips

but can‘t remember the question.

What time is it?
I think it’s quarter to three
in some new year
far in the future.

Wow,
it‘s the year

three thousand thirty-something
and I am long-dead when I awake.

Or am I standing outside in moonlight,
am I standing at the edge of the woods?
I don’t know which ones these are,
but the paths lead in all directions

like lines in a poem
events in a story
words on a page.

I don’t quite know
what’s happening;
I still haven’t heard
the alarm clock.

Someone has buckled the knees
of the clouds
and of all our lofty ideas
to lead us

farther and farther
into the woods,
these dim
uncanny woods
that time
has called forth in the mind.


XIV

Eigum við að biðja fornleifafræðingana um svar
eða vilja spámennirnir tjá sig?
Þetta ljóð er ekki með réttu ráði.
Ég er ekki með réttu ráði.

Hvað er rétt ráð?
Það er langt síðan ég hef ort ljóð.
en stutt síðan konur fengu kosningarétt
og tíminn er einsog vatnið,
dropinn sem holar steininn.

Ég vakna með svarið á vörunum
en man ekki spurninguna.

Hvað er klukkan?
Ég held að hún sé korter í þrjú
á nýju ári langt inni
í framtíðinni.

Vá!
það er árið
þrjú þúsund þrjátíuogeitthvað
og ég er löngu dauður þegar ég vakna.
Eða stend ég úti í tunglsljósi,
stend ég úti við skóg?
Ég veit ekkert hverjir þetta eru,
en stígarnir liggja í allar áttir
einsog línur í ljóði
atvik í sögu
orð á blaði.

Ég veit ekki alveg
hvað er að gerast
en ég hef enn ekki heyrt
í vekjaraklukku.

Einhver hefur kippt fótunum
undan skýjunum,
öllum okkar háleitu hugmyndum,
til að leiða okkur

lengra og lengra
inn í skóginn,
þennan dimma
kynjaskóg
sem tíminn hefur
framkallað í huganum.

.

.

Kristín Ómarsdóttir
Translated from Icelandic by Sarah M. Brownsberger

1

dreams gloss nothing, nothing, keep no record
yet they do keep a record, they’re the dump
said the guy at the café yesterday –
that’s where we rummage for the weapons that murder desire

2

oh!
life is a grind
death a long-term goal
sings the choir
we feel sorry for the man who decorates the cake
we feel sorry for the woman who scrapes salt off the window
we feel sorry for the child who shows up to daycare at eight a.m.
we feel sorry for the girl who listens to a pop song and thinks:
oh!
was I born to listen to a pop song while admiring the view from the window?
oh!
life is a grind
death a long-term goal
we feel sorry for the view from the window
we feel sorry for the cold beyond the view, where men work in sheds
we feel sorry for the iron crossbeams in the roof that shoulder the weight of the cold
we feel sorry for the men’s lungs, hands, fingers
we feel sorry for the view from the shed, the mountains blue and cold

oh!
death is a long-term goal
we feel sorry for the woman as she sews the button on the uniform
we feel sorry for the uniform, the button, the fingers, the eyes
we feel sorry for the leader’s clothes, bloodstream, leadership abilities, and shoes
we feel sorry for the relatives who clap for their relatives’ victories at parties
we feel sorry for the victors
we feel sorry for the victors
oh!
life is a grind
we feel sorry for the balloons at children’s parties
for the party windows that shoulder the weight of framing the view
and the rain
the rain
and the fingers
the fingers
death is a long-term goal
sings the choir while Iceland loads up on trash

3

a)

don’t leave me behind
don’t leave me behind
don’t leave me behind
don’t leave me behind
don’t leave me behind

b)

they crush your heart with their tranquility of mind
about love – security – warmth, about nightmares of solitude
they break your ribs like toothpicks
the swans that abandoned the fairy tales for better deals

4

the suppleness of distance creates a song
sparkling nearness silence
the space between silence and song: love?

5

the sensitivity of the collarbone and of the black hair on the arm of the pilot
who flew us here have a common home in a song of self-hatred
as does the sun when it glitters on the green bridal veil and on the coins
dangling from the groom’s hem
the jewels from the bride’s hair that warm water washes the blood from
and the road to here
and the road out
all have a common home-address in a song
of a choir of self-haters
eyes: fluttering targets

6

I bring you along in my luggage and judge you
like a sporting event
exhibit
experiment
fitness test
peace cuts out the winding sheet and does not sweat
so long as men play the fool at parties

7

the poem will be written in Barbie writing
on a blade of grass which will go in a drawer of the pink vanity
can you read Barbie writing?
    pink
    pink
    pink
    pink
    pink
I lived with the housekeeper of a Barbie house and our feet wept
can you read Barbie writing?
reading glasses won’t suffice, nor a magnifying glass
can you read Barbie writing?
the mirror fodders itself on sugar, drinks milk through a straw
you will NEVER get your hands in that drawer
(can you read Barbie writing?)
with one bird-stitch I lock you in the cage of uncomposed poems
down-feathers drift across the path

8

I abandon my meaning
the meaning of my name
father’s name, mother’s, birth gender
fatherland, mother tongue
on Sunday

sunshine-rain-bow

like a feather

9

pregnant woman in the waiting room: oh, I am carrying a meteor!

the choir in the waiting room:
feather, feather, the hat flies!
feather, feather, the hats fly!

pregnant woman:
the gods’ desk drawers are full of cut-off fingers
with which they stamp our passports

the choir laughs and sings:
feather, feather, the hats fly, the hats fly

a meteor laughs
a meteor laughs
the last laugh


1

draumarnir glósa ekkert ekkert halda ekki dagbók
halda samt dagbók, þeir eru ruslahaugarnir
sagði gaurinn á kaffihúsinu í gær –
þarna grömsum við í leit vopnanna sem myra þrána

2

ó!
lífið er strit
dauðinn langtímamarkmið
syngur kórinn
við kennum í brjósti um manninn sem skreytir kökuna
við kennum í brjósti um konuna sem skefur saltið af glugganum
við kennum í brjósti um barnið sem mætir í leikskólann klukkan átta
við kennum í brjósti um stelpuna sem hlustar á dægurlag og hugsar:
ó!
fæddist ég til að hlusta á dægurlag um leið og ég dáist að útsyninu útum gluggann?
ó!
lífið er strit
dauðinn langtímamarkmi.
við kennum í brjósti um útsynið útum gluggann
við kennum í brjósti um kuldann handan útsynisins þar sem menn vinna í skemmum
við kennum í brjósti um járnbitana í rjáfrinu sem bera ábyrgð á kuldanum
við kennum í brjósti um lungu mannanna, hendur, fingur –
við kennum í brjósti um útsynið úr skemmunni: fjöllin köld og blá

ó!
dauðinn er langtímamarkmið
við kennum í brjósti um konuna þegar hún saumar hnappinn á einkennisbúninginn
og við kennum í brjósti um einkennisbúninginn, hnappinn, fingurna, augun
við kennum í brjósti um föt leiðtogans, blóðrás hans og leiðtogahæfileikana og skóna
við kennum í brjósti um ættingjana sem fagna sigri ættingjanna með lófaklappi í veislum
við kennum í brjósti um sigurvegarana
við kennum í brjósti um sigurvegarana
ó!
lífið er strit
við kennum í brjósti um blöðrurnar í veislum barnanna
veislugluggana sem af ábyrgð ramma útsynið inn
og regnið
regnið
og fingurna
fingurna
dauðinn er langtímamarkmið
syngur kórinn á meðan ísland fyllir sig rusli

3

a )

ekki skilja mig eftir
ekki skilja mig eftir
ekki skilja mig eftir
ekki skilja mig eftir
ekki skilja mig eftir

b )

þeir kremja á manni brjóstið með hugarspektinni
um ást – öryggi – hlyju, um martraðir einsemdar
þeir brjóta í manni rifbeinin líktog tannstöngla
svanirnir sem yfirgáfu ævintyrin fyrir betri díla

4

lipurð fjarlægðar skapar söng
tindrandi nálægð þögn
millibil þagnar og söngs: ást?

5

viðkvæmni viðbeinsins og svört hárin á handlegg flugstjórans
sem flaug okkur hingað eiga sameiginlegt heimili í söng um sjálfshatur
og einnig sólin þegar hún gyllir grænt brúðarslörið og klinkið
sem lafir í faldi brúðgumans
gersemarnar úr hári brúðarinnar sem volgt vatnið þvær af blóðið
og vegurinn hingað
og vegurinn héðan
öll eiga sameiginlegt heimilisfang í söng
kórs sjálfshatara
augun: flöktandi skotskífur

6

ég tek þig með í farangurinn og dæmi þig
líktog íþróttaleik
synigrip
tilraun
þrekpróf
friðurinn sníðir líkklæðin og svitnar ekki
svo lengi sem menn leika fíflin í veislunum

7

ljóðið verður ritað í barbískrift
á strá sem fer ofaní skúffu snyrtiborðsins bleika
lestu barbískrift ?
bleikt
bleikt
bleikt
bleikt
bleikt
ég bjó heima hjá skúringarkonu í barbíhúsi og fætur okkar grétu
lestu barbískrift ?
lesgleraugu duga ekki eða stækkunargler
lestu barbískrift ?
spegillinn faðrar sig sykri, drekkur mjólk í gegnum strá
fingur þínir komast ALDREI að skúffunni
lestu barbískrift ?
með fuglasaumn læsi ég þig inní búri óorts ljóðs
(lestu barbískrift?)
dúnn fykur yfir slóð

8

ég yfirgef merkingu mína
merkingu nafns míns
nafns föður, móður, fæðingarkyns
föðurlands, móðurmáls
á sunnudegi

sólskin – regn – bogi

einsog fjöður

9

barnshafandi kona á biðstofu: ó hér geng ég með loftstein!

kórinn á biðstofunni:
fjöður, fjöður, hatturinn flygu
fjöður, fjöður, hattarnir fljúga

barnshafandi konan:
skúffur guðanna eru fullar af afskornum fingrum
sem þeir stimpla vegabréfin okkar með

kórinn hlær og syngur:
fjöður, fjöður, hattarnir fljúga, hattarnir fljúga

loftsteinn hlær
loftsteinn hlær
síðasta hláturinn

.

.

Kristín Svava Tómasdóttir
Translated from Icelandic by K.B. Thors

onward!
onward at once in the name of the Lord!

onward out into the tempest
vanished in the whiteout

leapt on horseback and dashed off
dashed out in the nightmurk
over roadless ground and fen
out in madblind blizzards
out in rabid impasse
relentless she pressed against the storm
sat mannish astride her sidesaddle and set off unshrinking
out in deep and heavy current
out in the raging torrent


af stað!
af stað undir eins í Drottins nafni!

af stað út í ofsann
horfin í sortann

snaraðist á bak og þeysti af stað
þeysti út í náttmyrkrið
yfir vegleysur og fen
út í blindvitlausar stórhríðar
út í bullandi ófærur
hvíldarlaust hélt hún móti hríðinni
fór karlvega í söðul sinn og lagði ótrauð
út í djúp og straumþung vatnsföllin
út í æðandi flauminn

.

and the river cannot be avoided like a majorriver greatflood heavycurrents bigboulders and the severe swell of frost and cold flooding all over the bank high water levels roaring torrent sandbar or stone nowhere to be seen thunder and shearing rushing forward the swell of frost and flood over everything the bank full of slush and ice sliding over the ice tumbling dirtred with icechunks roaring forth the rush up in the frost and snowstorm the rush into the frost big ice floes tearing free from icebands gushing roaring torrential water streaming over the ice the ice cracking the horses sinking to the bottom the ice cracking the river breaking the pillar under the end of the bridge tossing dirtred and rapids badgoing ungoable ungoable terrifying wickedriverwater 

worst water in the whole county


og áin ekki umflúin eins og stórfljót flóðmikil straumþung stórgrýtt og ströng bólgin af frosti og kulda flóði yfir alla bakka foráttuvöxtur vatnselgur beljandi straumur hvergi sá í eyri eða stein drunur og skruðningar ruddist fram bólgin af frosti og flæddi yfir allt bakkafull af krapi og ís rann ofan á ísnum valt fram kolmórauð með jakaburði beljaði fram hlaupin upp í frosti og byl hlaupin upp í frostinu stórir jakar slitu af sér klakaböndin fossandi beljandi vatnsflaumur rann ofan á ísnum ísinn að bresta hestarnir að sökkva til botns ísinn að bresta áin að brjóta stöpulinn undan brúarendanum byltist fram kolmórauð og straumhörð illfær ófær ófær ógnandi skaðræðisvatnsfall

versta vatn í allri sýslunni

.

few women have worked outside the home
at such difficult and demanding tasks
for as little

for all this help she took the same as no payment
many trips she made for nothing
went on godblessyous alone
this joy to help
nurse and console

neither moth nor rust can destroy this wealth
it will not be tallied with numbers nor on scales weighed


fáar konur hafa utan heimilis unnið
jafn mikil erfið og vandasöm störf
fyrir jafn lítil laun

fyrir alla þessa hjálp tók hún sama sem enga borgun
marga ferðina fór hún fyrir ekki neitt
fór með guðsblessunina eina
gleði þess að hjálpa
líkna og hugga

þeim auði fær hvorki mölur né ryð grandað
eigi verður það með tölum talið né á vog vegið

.

.

Terje Dragseth
Translated from Norwegian by Ørjan Amundsen & Pål Gumpen

I Am Writing the Language

I’m writing the language
Homer wrote
in a hexameter Homer writes
mirror and myth
I am writing
“I’m no one”
Odysseus’ wagging dog Penelope’s endurance
homecoming
I’m writing
eighteen songs for one day
James Joyce is writing
stream of consciousness
I’m writing
writing the love saying: “and yes I said yes I will Yes”
writing my yes
writing
yes

**
I’m writing the language
as incantation and respiration through the seasons
writing hymns for fertility
writing uplifted apocalypse
down tuned guitar
writing stone bridge over the gorge writing
echo
pounding subterranean metal writing
dust in the eyes
I’m writing Snorre Norse
writing blindly
Heimskringla Sagas of the Norse Kings and the murders of the kings
sword and blood then as now
the history is written
in blood and murder

**
With the hand’s fine-tuned motor skills
I’m writing in the candlelight’s flickering shadow
I’m writing the language
writing
of going to the dogs
in the great and in the small
I’m writing
The Book of Revelation in dawn’s mother of pearl light
I’m writing seven letters to you
“Behold, I make all things new”
I’m writing
The Book of Job on ten thousand fathoms deep
lamentations and whale songs I’m writing
sorrow dizzying abyss I’m writing
writing in sand the wisdom of the fool and his one-sided philosophy
the mask of the clown and teardrop I’m writing
Sufi
the love machine dancing
I’m writing
God’s love in all, I’m writing

**
I’m writing the shadow of a rock and the far side of the Moon
I’m writing the Earth in an ellipse around the Sun
and the seven planets
and the milk teeth and the world’s seven wonders
I’m writing
the internal velocity of the numbers I’m writing
a volcanic eruption
and mankind’s acceleration in itself
I’m writing
supersymmetry
swirling cosmic spiral
I’m writing

**
I’m writing the language for the eyes
color of the eyes and iris and the curl of the eyelashes
the tree and its trunk with bark and the leaf green forest becomes by being gazed at
the eyes constitutes the world
more than anything
I’m writing the language of the eyes
the visible I’m writing
magnetic field in the eye I’m writing
the fetus’ eye discriminates nuances of light in the amniotic fluid’s grey semen color
writing light in darkness of the soul

**
I’m writing the onomatopoeic
ma ma ma pa pa pa da da da da da
I’m writing quarry single-sized gravel and small stones
I’m writing the language for that which slides and sizzles
the branches’ frozen creak
for everything without language
I’m writing a language
I’m writing the language
water
I’m writing the water against the stones and the stream over the sandy bottom
I’m writing fire is water running upstream
I’m writing cascade waterfall
I’m writing flood and tsunami
I’m writing the droplet towards the forehead

**
I’m writing the language for the animals’ and the plants’ rights
the listening beaver by the aspen tree and the cats’ whiskers in the mouse hole
and the shrew born naked and blind
writing the exchange of fragrances between the rose bush and the rhododendron
writing the roots’ branching in the soil
writing the colors’ language
blue anemone white anemone and the ladybird’s black spots
writing habitat biotope
writing sand beach sand desert blueberry spruce forest
writing the pine forest’s obvious rights
interconnection I’m writing
one for all I’m writing

**
I’m writing the language
as frozen dream is the world
a peacock spreads out his plumage a pine falls in the forest
writing
afternoon sun orange over the ridge
writing the concept:
consciousness
I’m writing:
Buddha
isn’t written
Buddha the language
Buddha isn’t being written
I’m writing with both hands:
everything is burning

**
I’m writing the language for today
an ember in the ashes
I’m writing
glowing I’m writing
for the flame tomorrow
for the flame tomorrow I’m writing a bonfire
I’m writing
the gifts of the senses
the bubbles in the aquarium
pepper on the kitchen counter

**
I’m writing the language
I’m writing the language
five continents fifty megacities
seven billion people’s language turbulence
writing
the insane night’s speed
I’m writing the language
as a last necessity
I’m writing the language
To listen is to write
to write is to remember
to remember is to know
I’m writing
a blue bird
writing
the bird
takes off


Jeg skriver språket

Jeg skriver språket
Homer skrev
i en sekstakter skriver Homer
speil og myte
jeg skriver
«ingen er jeg»
Odyssevs logrende hund Penelopes utholdenhet
hjemkomst
skriver jeg
atten sanger for en dag
skriver James Joyce
bevissthetsstrøm
skriver jeg
skriver kjærlighetsutsagnet: «og ja jeg ja jeg vil ja»
skriver mitt ja
skriver
JA

**
Jeg skriver språket
som besvergelse og åndedrett gjennom årstidene
skriver høysang for fruktbarheten
skriver oppstemt apokalypse
nedstemt gitar
skriver steinbro over juvet skriver
dvergmål
hamrende underjordisk metall skriver
støv i øynene
Jeg skriver Snorre norrønt
skriver blind
Heimskringla Kongesagaene og drapene på kongene
sverd og blod da som nå
historien skrives
med blod og drap

**
Med håndens fine motorikk
skriver jeg i stearinlysets blafrende skygge
skriver jeg språket
skriver
om det å gå i hundene
og det store i det små
Jeg skriver
Johannes’ åpenbaring i gryningens perlemorlys
skriver sju brev til dere
«se jeg gjør alle ting nye»
skriver jeg
Jobs bok på ti tusen favners dyp
klagesangene og hvalsangene skriver jeg
sorg svimlende avgrunn skriver jeg
skriver i sand dårens visdom og enfoldige filosofi
klovnens maske og tåre skriver jeg
Sufi
kjærlighetsmaskinen som danser
skriver jeg
Guds kjærlighet i alt, skriver jeg

**
Jeg skriver skyggen fra en stein og månens bakside
jeg skriver jorda i ellipse rundt sola
og de sju planetene
og melketennene og verdens syv underverker
skriver jeg
tallenes indre hastighet skriver jeg
et vulkanutbrudd
og menneskehetens akselerasjon i seg selv
skriver jeg
supersymmetri
virvlende kosmiske spiral
skriver jeg

**
Jeg skriver språket for øynene
fargen på øynene og iris og øyenvippenes bue
treets barkstamme og skogens bladgrønne blir til ved å bli sett
øynene konstituerer verden
mer enn alt
skriver jeg øynenes språk
Det synlige skriver jeg
magnetfelt i øyet skriver jeg
fosterets øye som skjelner lysnyanser i fostervannets sædgrå
skriver lys i sjelens mørke

**
Jeg skriver det onomatopoetiske
ma ma ma pa pa pa da da da da da
jeg skriver grustak singel og småstein
jeg skriver språket for det som raser og risler
greinenes frosne knirk
for alt som ikke har språk
skriver jeg et språk
Jeg skriver språket
vannet
jeg skriver vannet mot steinene og strømmen over sandbunnen
jeg skriver ild er vann som renner oppover
jeg skriver foss og fossefall
jeg skriver flom og tsunami
jeg skriver dråpen mot pannen

**
Jeg skriver språket for dyrene og plantenes rettigheter
den lyttende beveren ved ospetreet og kattas værhår i musehullet
og spissmusa født naken og blind
skriver utvekslingen av dufter mellom rosebusken og rhododendronen
skriver røttenes forgreininger i jordsmonnet
skriver fargenes språk
blåveis hvitveis og marihønas sorte pletter
skriver habitat biotop
skriver havstrand sandørken blåbærgranskog
skriver furuskogens selvfølgelige rettigheter
sammenheng skriver jeg
en for alle skriver jeg

**
Jeg skriver språket
som frosset drøm er verden
en påfugl slår ut sin fjærprakt en furu faller i skogen
skriver
ettermiddagssolas oransje over åskammen
skriver begrepet:
bevissthet
Jeg skriver:
Buddha
skrives ikke
Buddha språket
Buddha skrives ikke
jeg skriver med begge hender:
alt brenner

**
Jeg skriver språket for i dag
ei glo i aska
skriver jeg
glødende skriver jeg
for flammen i morgen
for flammen i morgen
skriver jeg et bål
Jeg skriver
sansenes nådegaver
boblene i akvariet
paprika på kjøkkenbenken

**
Jeg skriver språket
jeg skriver språket
fem kontinenter femti millionbyer
sju milliarder menneskers språkturbulens
skriver
den vanvittige nattas hastighet
Jeg skriver språket
som en siste nødvendighet
jeg skriver språket
Å lytte er å skrive
å skrive er å huske
å huske er å vite
jeg skriver
en blå fugl,
skriver
fuglen
letter

**

.

Translated from Norwegian by Irmeli Kuehnel

I Was Born in June but Love November

when the north wind dresses me naked
with night frost and hoar crystals on a windshield
and the cat traipses in with cold paws
and leans against the fireplace
then it is November, finally November
with ice and falling snow

November’s black rain against the streetlight’s glare on the asphalt
a November of aluminum and cobalt blue
and smelling like fermented leaves and fungus and rotten branches
and snow that lies on the mountain tops
and the titmice on the bird feeder crunching on the sunflower seeds
November, finally November with its blue days.

November, the month of anonymity, oblivion and reason
November has no friends and is the other months’ forget-me-not

I was born in June but love November

What is more monumental than the fifteenth of November
November has no days off
Working hard in the short days that are available
as if  November woke up against the sun.
as the only month that protests the darkness in defiance of itself

I was born in June but love November

November is the most metaphysical and ungodly of the twelve months of the year
November looks after itself

I was born in June but love November


Jeg er født i juni men elsker november

når nordavinden kler meg naken
med nattefrost og rimkrystaller mot frontruta
og kattene trekker inn med kalde poter
og luner seg mot peisen
da er november endelig november
som is og fallende snø

Novembers sorte regn mot gatelysets gjenskinn  i asfalten
november av aluminium og koboltblått
og lukta av gjæra løv og sopp og råtne greiner
og snøen som legger seg på fjelltoppene
og meisene på fuglebrettet som mesker seg med solsikkefrø.
November endelig november av blånende dag.

November, anonymitetens og glemselens og fornuftens måned
november har ingen venner og er de andre måneders glemmebok

Jeg er født i juni men elsker november

Hva er mer monumentalt enn femtende november
November har ingen fridager og jobber mørkt med vinterforberedelser
i de korte dagene den har til rådighet
som om november stod opp mot selveste sola
som den eneste av årets måneder protesterer den mørkt mot seg selv

Jeg er født i juni men elsker november

November er den metafysiske og gudløse av årets tolv måneder
november klarer seg selv

Jeg er født i juni men elsker november

.

Isn’t it Enough

Isn’t it enough to be in that moment of hasty clouds
in shifting moods between sentences
raise your hand to go

Isn’t it enough –
to feel the taste of vanilla and walnut
to listen to the light early in the morning
of spinning electrons
and the light,
which later lies in fat clusters on the stones

to be the cause of the cry of a frightened bird
to decipher a snail’s antenna
to add a letter in the mouth of a child

Isn’t it enough –
to stroke the cat and let warm water run over the hands
that billons of people are dreaming
right now in this moment of the electric moon
visionary and with vibrating facial features in the dream
that you are close enough to be insignificant
a trembling aspen leaf

Isn’t it enough –
to put a fork in the drawer
to alphabetize the library once again
to study a painting by Immendorff
and talk to yourself in the third person

Isn’t it enough –
that music exists, unanswered, as a key, dynamic, rhythmic
that word for word is a mystery
that a river is a memory
and the sound of rain
a touch of loneliness

Isn’t it enough –
that we worry pointlessly and promises and expectations and trivial illusions
that we run effortlessly on a forest path –  rumbling into the distance, the birds are listening

Isn’t it enough –
to think about murder’s loneliness where she sits in the tribunal
guilty not-guilty
and the flames in death and frost in the morning
Isn’t it enough with the yearly seasons and everything that follows them:
snow,
pollen,
apples,
law.


Er det ikke nok

Er det ikke nok –
å være til i øyeblikk av hastige skyer
i skiftende sinnstemninger mellom setningene
løfte hånda gå

Er det ikke nok –
å kjenne smak av vanilje og valnøtt
å lytte til lyset tidlig om morgenen
av spinnende elektroner
og lyset,
som seinere ligger i feite klaser flekkvis på stien

å være årsak til lyden av en oppskremt fugl
lese en snegles antenner
legge en bokstav i munnen på et barn

Er det ikke nok –
å stryke katten og la vannet renne over hendene
at milliarder av mennesker drømmer
akkurat nå i dette øyeblikk av elektrisk måne
visjonært og med vibrerende ansiktstrekk i søvnen
at du er nær nok i det ubetydelige
et ospeblad som skjelver
Er det ikke nok –
å legge en gaffel i skuffen
alfabetisere biblioteket atter en gang
studere et maleri av Immendorff
og snakke til seg selv i tredje person

Er det ikke nok –
at musikken finnes, ubesvart, som toneart, dynamikk, rytme
at ord mot ord er mysterie
at elva er hukommelse
og lyden av regn
en ensomhetens berøring

Er det ikke nok –
at vi engster oss unødvendig i løfter og forventninger og grunne illusjoner
at vi løper lett på en skogsti – det tordner i det fjerne, fuglene lytter

Er det ikke nok –
å tenke på morderens ensomhet der hun sitter i retten
skyldig ikke-skyldig
og på flammen i døden og frosten om morgenen
er det ikke nok med årstidene og alt som faller i dem:
snø,
pollen,
epler,
løv.

.

.

Henrik J. Ibsen
Translated from Norwegian by Irmeli Kuehnel

The Eider Duck

The Eider bird in Norway lives:
He sticks to the high grey
cliffs
He plucks the soft down from his chest,
and builds a nest both warm and blest.
But the fjord’s fisherman has a steely bent;
He raids the nest to the speck.
The fisherman is fierce, but the bird is warm;
he plucks his own chest once more.
And if he’s robbed again, then he can clothe
his nest again in a hidden nook.
But if he’s robbed of his third, his last prize,
then he spreads his wings one spring-night
Then he cleaves the mist with a bloody chest; –
to the south, to the south to a sunny coast!


Eiderfuglen

Eiderfuglen in Norge bor:
der holder han til ved den blygrå
fjord
Han plukker af  brystet de bløde dun,
og bygger sig både varm og lun.
Men fjordens fisker har stålsat hug;
Han plynder redet til sidste fnug.
Er fiskeren grum, så fuglen varm;
han ribber igen sin egen barm.
Og plyndres han atter, så klæder han
dog
sit rede påny i en velgent krog
Men røves hans tredje, hans sidste
skat,
da spiler han vinger en forårs-nat
Da kløver han skodden med blodigt byrst;-
mod syd, mod syd til en solskins-kyst!

.

A Swan

My white swan
You silent one; you quiet one;
Neither jolt or a chirp
Of your singing voice could be heard

Beset by anxiety
Elf, who was sleeping
Always listening
You glided over.

With the last encounter
then you and your eyes.-
where the secrets lie.-
yes then, then it was heard!

You finished your path
Creating tones.
You sang in death
You were a swan!


En svane

Min hvide svane
Du stumme, du stille;
Hverken slag eller trille
Lod sangröst ane

Angst besyttenede
Alfen, som sover,-
Altid lyttende
Gled du henover.

Men sidste mødet
da eder og øjne
var lønlige løgne.-
ja da, da lød det!

I toners føden
du slutted din bane.
Du sang  i døden;
du var dog en svane!

.

.

Ingrid Storholmen
Translated from Norwegian by Bradley Harmon

The bridge is whitish, rotten, I’m afraid of the river below
Someone rushes past me. Far ahead of me
I see a little girl standing and waving. Suddenly I understand
that she’s waiting for me, that she’s been standing here for a while, looking
for me, it’s a good thing I didn’t have to look, I would never have
found you alone. She is familiar. I want to give her something
but I have nothing beautiful enough. She does not answer me
just pulls an icicle out of her bag and I know I need to warm up
that she will stab me until it melts




Brua er kvitleg, morkna, eg er redd for elva under 
Det er nokon som går forbi meg mykje fortare. Langt framme 
ser eg ei lita jente, ho står og vinkar. Brått skjøner eg 
at ho ventar på meg at ho har stått her ei stund, kika 
etter meg, det er godt eg slapp å leite, eg ville aldri 
funne deg åleine. Ho liknar. Eg vil gi henne noko 
men eg har ingenting som er fint nok. Ho svarar meg ikkje 
tek berre fram ein istapp frå sekken, og eg veit eg må gjere meg varm
at ho vil stikke meg heilt til han brånar

.

Ice in ice
snow in the throat
now go
out go
from out
travel go
one starts
darkness falls
into an undissolved ease




Isen i isen
snøen i strupen
no gå
ut gå
av ut
reiser gå
ein startar
mørkret dett
i ei uforløyst ro

.

You are no longer a face
but a breath
I turn toward the snow that covers the tracks
from your face on my face
softly, softly, a white alphabet snows




Du er ikkje lenger eit ansikt
men ein pust
Eg vender meg mot snøen som dekker spora 
etter ansiktet ditt i mitt 
stille, stille snør eit kvitt alfabet

.

.

Bengt Berg
Translated from Swedish by Bengt Berg

About the Rain

It’s the same rain, the same
rain yesterday, new rain
falls, same old
as all rain; light darkness
darkness light, down
towards us on the moss,
to comfort, slowly it reaches us
where we stand side by side
under the tall tree
we call the tree of life

Everything is stored in the tree
between the tree rings 
which is the way of the forest
to measure time
And inside, in the beautiful fragrance
of wood is you, what was you
and you are with us
in the shelter of the rain,
the inescapable
the rain


Om regnet

Det är samma regn, samma
regn igår, nytt regn
faller, lika gammalt
som allt regn; ljus mörker
mörker ljus, ner
mot oss på mossan,
till tröst, sakta når det oss
där vi står intill varann
under det höga träd
vi kallar livets

I det trädet finns allt lagrat
mellan årsringarna
som är skogens sätt
att mäta tid
Och där inne, i den vackra doften
av trä finns du, det som var du
och är du hos oss
i skydd av regnet,
det ofrånkomliga
regnet

.

About the Stone

See the ear, listen to the sound
with which the sun set
in the lake

Turn out and in at night,
feel the dark fur,
drink the scent of birch
over the stone’s

hesitant silence
The time it takes
for the stone
to learn to read
what your lips whisper


Om stenen

Se örat
Lyssna på ljudet
med vilket solen
sjönk i sjön

Vänd ut och in på natten
Känn mörkerpälsen
Drick björkdoften
över stenarnas tveksamma tystnad
Tiden det tar
för stenen
att lära sig läsa
vad dina läppar viskar

.

About the Forest

The boots are waiting
During the night three stars have landed,
two in the left-hand shaft, the third lies
on its back, squinting at the Monday morning light,
the light that trickles down
through the late summer clouds
You yourself stand on the steps
Still with the strange dream of the night
on your lips: How you sat
at the top of a slightly swaying lookout tower
counting the cones of each spruce,
tree by tree …
… standing there on the stairs
while the three-star boots
expecting a grizzly bear walk

Again Indian, 11 years old and companion of the trails,
the supreme of the foaming rapids,
confidant of the tough, bendy junipers,
11 years old and without a wristwatch
but equipped with the compass needle of the anthill
and the sun high above
between the crowns of the majestic pines
And there is only this day, only this forest:
the resinous acid and the root field, the boulder shadow,
the skin left by the viper

When the stars of the boots
gave way to the conditions of the day,
when the feathers of the Indian band
faded into invisibility,
when the forest has had its reckoning
and the horse has his time,
when all nature
has become its own stock exchange quotation,
when the branch we sit on
is no longer part of the tree
– then we must ask ourselves:
Is it really us
holding the saw?
Did we know nothing,
why did we let it happen?
Because it can never be too late
to ask the questions
we already know the answers to,
it can only be too late
if we do nothing,
we who thought we knew the names of the stars
and the direction of the paths,
we who once promised
to never be older than 11


Om skogen

Stövlarna står där och väntar
Under natten har tre stjärnor landat,
två i vänsterskaftet, den tredje ligger
på rygg och kisar mot måndagsmorgonljuset,
ljuset som sipprar ner
genom brittsommarmolnen
Själv står du på trappan
ännu med nattens märkliga dröm
på läpparna: Hur du satt
högst uppe i ett lätt vajande utsiktstorn
och räknade varje grans kottar,
väderstreck för väderstreck
… står där på trappan
medan de trestjärniga stövlarna
väntar sig en grizzlybjörnspromenad

Återigen indian, 11 år och stigarnas följeslagare,
den skummande forsens suverän,
de sega, böjliga enbuskarnas förtrogne,
11 år och utan armbandsur
men utrustad med myrstackens kompassnål
och solen högt däruppe
mellan de majestätiska tallarnas kronor
Och det finns bara denna dag, bara denna skog:
Harsyran och rotvältan, stenblocksskuggan,
skinnet som huggormen lämnade kvar

När stövlarnas stjärnor
fått ge vika för dagens villkor,
när indianbandets fjädrar
blekts bort till osynlighet,
när skogen fått sin kalkyl
och trasten sin frist,
när all naturen
blivit sin egen börsnotering,
när grenen vi sitter på
inte längre är en del av trädet
– då måste vi ställa oss frågan:
Är det verkligen vi själva
som håller i sågen?
Visste vi ingenting,
varför lät vi det ske?
För för sent kan det aldrig bli
att ställa de frågor
som vi faktiskt redan vet svaren på,
för sent kan det bara bli
om vi ingenting gör,
vi som trodde oss veta stjärnornas namn
och stigarnas riktning,
vi som en gång lovade
att aldrig bli äldre än 11

.

.

Stig Dagerman
Translated from Swedish by Nancy Naomi Carlson and Lo Dagerman

To the Dogs 

Vesuvius is snuffed out
and I’m the one who did it
it happened yesterday
I humbly beg for forgiveness

you who buried Pompeii
with the lava from your heart
and sprinkled my Herculaneum
with ashes of your dead
will never understand

but today one of the dogs from Naples
looked me right in the eye


Till hundara

Vesuvius är släckt
och det är jag som gjort det
det hände mig igår
ber ödmjukt om förlåtelse

ni som begravt Pompeji
i lavan från ert hjärta
och bestrött mitt Herculaneum
med era dödas aska
kommer aldrig att förstå mig

men en av Neaples hundar
såg jag I dag I ögonen

.

The Long Lake Lies Shimmering 

the long lake lies shimmering
like thin thin silver
as delicate as my lover

a cloud can crush her
a star can blind her
here the sky is too heavy
or else she’d be a bird
here the grass is too coarse
or else she’d be a doe

now the dark wind breathes
lightly on the water’s surface
then my lover’s eyes grow cold
night, lower your warming eyelids
night, caress my lover’s brow
with your gentle hands

my lake that whispers in the darkness!
when the mist descends upon the water
I shall be your only boat
rocked by the softness of waves
lifted above the bottom of night
lifted above the stones of day
lulled by the quiet songs
that flow through your body

my lake that dreams of death!
when the mist lifts out of the water
I see my lover’s face
as if lit up by lightning
peaceful as a sleeping bird
transparent as a sleeping sea
and as lovely as my greatest longing

imagine tonight I have built out of my longing
a tall, sun-lit vault
between the stones of heaven
and her whom I love
and when morning comes
the feet of my lover shall wade
in my longing’s warm dew
in my longing’s tender grass


Blank är den långa sjön

Blank är den långa sjön
av tunt tunt silver
så sprött som min älskade

henne krossar ett moln
henne bländar en stjärna
himlen här är för tung
en fågel vore hon annars
gräset här är för strävt
annars var hon en hind

nu andas den mörka vinden
lätt på vattnets yta
då fryser min älskades ögon
fäll natt dina värmande ögonlock
smek natt min älskades panna
med dina vänliga händer

min sjö som viskar i mörkret!
när dimman sänks över vattnet
skall jag vara din enda båt
vaggad av mjuka vågor
lyft över nattens botten
lyft över dagens stenar
sövd av de tysta sånger
som genomströmmar din kropp

min sjö som drömmer om döden!
när dimman lyfter ur vattnet
ser jag min älskades ansikte
som belyst av en blixt
lugnt som en sovande fågel
klart som ett sovande hav
och så vackert som min största längtan

tänk i natt har jag byggt av min längtan
ett högt, ljust valv
mellan himlens stenar
och henne jag älskar
och när morgonen kommer
skall min älskades fötter vada
i min längtans varmaste dagg
i min längtans mjukaste gräs.

.

A Flower Opens

A flower opens in the cold of night.
A bird of fire is rising to the sky.
The flight of such a bird is fleeting.
Gardens of light quickly wither.

The life of things that burn is fleeting.
Wings over dark houses soon will dim.
The roses soon will dim in night’s garden.
But the yearning for light will never dim.


Nu slår en blomma ut
Nu slår en blomma ut i kalla kvällen.
Nu lyfter fågeln som är gjord av eld.
Kort är flykten för en sådan fågel.
Hastigt vissnar trädgårdar av ljus.

Kort är livet hos de ting som brinner.
Snart slocknar vingar över mörka hus.
Snart slocknar rosorna i nattens trädgård.
Men aldrig slocknar längtan efter lj.

.

.

Jila Mossaed
Translated from Swedish by Bradley Harmon

You took the rope ladder here
after so many years
You hung it
against a wall that was never awake

Seven floors up
Seven closed dark corridors
and we are there

Giving back our bodies
to the star that in the beginning
lent us
its concealed codes

Then we carry on
to the eighth land
Slight as light
virtuous as the morning dew


Du tog repstegen hit
Efter så många år
Hängde den
längs en vägg som aldrig var vaken

Sju trappor upp
Sju stängda mörka korridorer
och vi är där

Lämnar tillbaka våra kroppar
till stjärnan som i begynnelsen
lånade oss
sina hemliga koder

Sen fortsätter vi
till åttonde landet
Tunna som ljus
oskuldsfulla som morgonens dagg

.

My heart flutters across the water
Having left all the letters to the wind

We have been travelers for too long
The waves eat at the borders
like small sardines

Frightened words, parched words, veiled words
they cannot help us

We glide quietly upon the fingers of the sea

How do fish find home

A long time has now passed
We are forgotten
We are lost
And no one misses us


Hjärtat flyter på vattnet
Har lämnat alla brev åt vinden

Vi har varit resenärer för länge
Vågorna åter upp gränserna
som små sardiner

Rädda ord, torkade ord, beslöjade ord
hjälper oss inte

Vi glider tysta på havets fingrar

Hur hittar fiskarna hem

Det har gått lång tid nu
Vi är glömde
Vi är vilsna
Och ingen saknar oss

.

On the floor of the sea they dwell
Those faces
with open eyes
Smiling silently

The water washes away their sound
Washes away the gazes
that swim upwards

The bodies move like small proud seahorses
Hope finds no resonance down there
It is transformed into one part of the sea’s life

I sit alone
Waiting for the first line of my new poem
to dry away my tears


På havets botten ligger de
Ansiktena
med öppna ögon
Ler tysta

Vattnet sköljer bort deras ljud
Sköljer bort blickar
som simmar upp

Kroppar rör sig som små stolta sjöhästar
Hoppet hittar inget ljud där nere
Förvandlas till en del av havets liv

Jag sitter ensam
Väntar på att första raden av min nya dikt
torkar bort mina tårar

© Bengt Berg, Stig Dagerman, Terje Dragseth, Einar Már Guðmundsson, Guðrið Helmsdal, Henrik Ibsen, Jila Mossaed, Kristín Ómarsdóttir, Kim Simonsen, Tóroddur Poulsen, Ingrid Storholmen, Kristín Svava Tómasdóttir, Ørjan Amundsen, Sarah M. Brownsberger, Nancy Naomi Carlson, Lo Dagerman, Pål Gumpen, Bradley Harmon, Irmeli Kuehnel, K.B. Thors, and Randi Ward

BIOS

Poets

Bengt Berg, born in 1946 in Torsby, Sweden, is the author of 40 books, mostly poetry. His poems have been translated into 15 languages. He studied German and Nordic languages & Literature and Art at Uppsala University. Since 1975, he worked as a freelance writer and translator. Since 1990, he has operated the publishing house, Heidruns Förlag in his home village Fensbol near Torsby in the Province of Värmland. From 2010 to 2014, Berg was a Member of the Swedish Parliament.  He has won several Swedish Literary prizes.

Stig Dagerman (1923-1954), a widely translated Swedish writer of the post WWII era, channeled the angst of a generation faced with the vestiges of war. Dagerman broke on the literary scene at 22, and within five years, created a body of work representing all genres: novels, journalism, essays, short stories, plays and poems. Sometimes referred to as the “Rimbaud of the North”, his intense production came to an abrupt halt. His prose poem “Our Need for Consolation is Insatiable” (1952), popularized in Europe, provides insight into his struggles. For more information see dagerman.us

Terje Dragseth (1955), poet. He has published seventeen poetry collections since debut 1980 and two books of short stories Den amerikanske turisten (The American Tourist) and Drømmeboka (The Dream book). He has often been characterized as “an ecstatic” in contemporary Norwegian poetry, and he is considered one of the most prominent voices of his generation. Dragseth also has a rock band: I Sing My Body Electric (ismbe.bandcamp.com & Spotify, iTunes) and is working as a film director (The Danish Filmschool 1983-87). He lives in Kristiansand, Norway. The first poem presented here is an excerpt from his collection Jeg Skriver Språket, published by Cappelen Damm 2015.

Einar Már Guðmundsson (b.1954), a novelist, short story writer and a poet, as well as a dedicated activist with a social vision, is one of the most widely translated Icelandic authors of the postwar period. In 1995, he won The Nordic Council Prize for his novel Angels of the Universe. Guðmundsson received numerous awards, including the Norwegian Bjørnson Prize, the Scharnberg Memorial Award in Denmark, The Karen Blixen Medal, and The Giuseppe Acerbi Literary Prize in Italy. In 2012 he received the Swedish Academy’s Nordic Prize, dubbed “The Little Nobel”, for his contribution to literature. The presented poems appeared in Icelandic in his collection TIl þeirra sem málið varðar, Reykjavík (Mál og menning), 2019.

Guðrið Helmsdal was born in Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands, in 1941. Between the ages of 12-26, she lived in Denmark. Her poems first appeared in Oyggjaskeggi, a Copenhagen-based Faroese magazine, in 1958. She became the first Faroese woman to publish a volume of poetry written in the Faroese language when Lýtt lot appeared in 1963, signaling a modernist breakthrough in Faroese literature. When Helmsdal received the M.A. Jacobsen Literature Award in 1974, the committee praised her for “blazing a trail for women’s literature in the Faroe Islands.”

Henrik Ibsen (Hendrik Johan Ibsen) was Norway’s greatest poet and playwright in the 19th century (born 1828, died 1906). As one of the founders of modernism in theatre, Ibsen is often referred to as “the father of realism” and one of the most influential playwrights. His are the most frequently-preformed plays after Shakespeare. Ibsen did a self-imposed exile from Norway, which lasted 27 years. He wrote 300 poems with universal themes. Renegade – Poetical Genius –– Early Crusader for Women’s Rights  – Father of Realism.

Jila Mossaed was born in Tehran in 1948. Since 1986 she has been based in Sweden, and writes in both Swedish and Persian. In 2018, she was the first non-native Swedish speaker elected to the Swedish Academy. The recipient of many literary prizes in Sweden, her ninth poetry collection in Swedish, Orden är försenade (Delayed Words)was published in early 2022.

Kristín Ómarsdóttir is the author of critically-acclaimed and widely-translated novels, poems, and short-stories. She was awarded Iceland’s Fjöruverðlaun prize for distinguished work by women authors in 2008, and has been nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize for both her poetry and her fiction. Her style, sharp and clear yet deeply empathetic, combines acute observation with a remarkable freedom of imagination.

Kim Simonsen is a Faroese writer from the village of Strendur on Eysturoy. For many years he lived in Denmark. He completed his PhD in 2012 at the University of Roskilde and has authored 7 books as well as numerous essays and academic articles. He is the founder and managing editor of Forlagið Eksil, a Faroese press that has published over 20 titles. In 2014, Simonsen won the M.A. Jacobsen Literature Award for his poetry collection Hvat hjálpir einum menniskja at vakna ein morgun hesumegin hetta áratúsundið.

Tóroddur Poulsen, a pioneering Faroese poet, graphic artist, and musician, was born in Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands, in 1957. He has published over forty books and become an inimitable force in Nordic literature. Katrin Ottarsdóttir’s 2008 film, A line a day must be enough!, documents the day-to-day life of Poulsen and his complicated relationship with his native archipelago. Among his many awards are the M.A. Jacobsen Literature Award, Faroe Islands’ most prestigious cultural prize, Mentanarvirðisløn Landsins, and the Adam Oehlenschlaeger, Emil Aarestrup, Herman Bang and Johannes Ewald Prize for outstanding contributions to Danish literature.

Ingrid Storholmen (b. 1975) is a Norwegian poet, novelist and literary critic. She has written several volumes of poetry, often experimenting at the limits of language and typography. Her 2009 novel Voices from Chernobyl was translated into English in 2015 and nominated for the prestigious IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. In recent years she’s published novels and children’s picture books. Her awards include the 2010 Sult prize, the Mads Wiel Nygaard Prize, and Ole Vig prize.

Kristín Svava Tómasdóttir is a poet and historian in Reykjavík, Iceland. Her fourth book of poetry, Hetjusögur (2020), was awarded the Icelandic Women´s Prize for Literature. Composed entirely from the memoirs and biographies of 100 Icelandic midwives working through the 19th and 20th centuries, Herostories illuminates the dangers and valor of birthwork. Kristín Svava has also written on the history of women voters, the history of pornography, and the history of epidemics in Iceland.

Translators

Ørjan Amundsen (b.1982) and Pål Gumpen (b.1982) are visual artist based in Grenland, Norway. Their artistic practice involves video, text, music and computer programming.

Bengt Berg, born in 1946 in Torsby, Sweden, is the author of 40 books, mostly poetry. His poems have been translated into 15 languages. He studied German and Nordic languages & Literature and Art at Uppsala University. Since 1975, he worked as a freelance writer and translator. Since 1990, he has operated the publishing house, Heidruns Förlag in his home village Fensbol near Torsby in the Province of Värmland. From 2010 to 2014, Berg was a Member of the Swedish Parliament.  He has won several Swedish Literary prizes.

Sarah M. Brownsberger is a poet, essayist, and Icelandic-English translator. A sampling of her work can be found at sarahbrownsberger.com.

Nancy Naomi Carlson’s translation of Khal Torabully’s Cargo Hold of Stars: Coolitude (Seagull Books, 2021) won the 2022 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize. A poet and essayist, she has authored twelve titles (eight translated), including An Infusion of Violets (Seagull Books, 2019), her second full-length poetry collection, named “New & Noteworthy” by The New York Times. A recipient of two translation grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, her work has appeared in APR, Poetry, Paris Review, Poem-a-Day, and The Georgia Review. She’s the Translations Editor for On the Seawall.

Lo Dagerman, the daughter of Stig Dagerman, lives in the United States. As the executor of her father’s literary estate, she collaborates with translators and publishers the world over, and drives a project to reintroduce Dagerman’s writing to American readers. As part of this effort, she writes, translates and produces. A recent documentary, The Making of a Man, deconstructs one of Dagerman’s controversial plays. Lo has a forthcoming book in Swedish about him and her actress mother to be published in 2023 as part of a Stig Dagerman centennial.

Pål Gumpen (b.1982) and Ørjan Amundsen (b.1982) are visual artist based in Grenland, Norway. Their artistic practice involves video, text, music and computer programming.

Bradley Harmon (b. 1994) is a writer, translator and scholar of Scandinavian and German literature and philosophy. His translations have appeared in journals such as Poetry, Chicago Review, Astra Magazine, Cincinnati Review, Firmament, Tupelo Quarterly, and Swedish Book Review. He is a 2022 ALTA emerging translator fellow for Swedish. He has translated books by Monika Fagerholm, Katarina Frostenson, Måns Mosesson and Birgitta Trotzig. He currently lives in Baltimore, where he’s a PhD student at Johns Hopkins University.

Irmeli Kuehnel, “Tipi” translates Finnish, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Dutch into English. Author of two scholarly studies on German medieval epics. Genealogy translations in Finnish, Norwegian, and German. PhD focused on Medieval Studies in German. Published a dual-language Swedish-English work The Swedes in America, authored in 1885, that includes songs and poems that speak to Scandinavian immigration. Translated into Finnish “From the Window of My Apartment,” featured in Loch Raven Review in Thirty-three translations of a poem by Lidia Kosk.

K.B. Thors is a poet and translator from Treaty 7 land in Alberta, Canada. The author of Vulgar Mechanics (Coach House, 2019), her translation of Kristín Svava Tómasdóttir’s Stormwarning won the American Scandinavian Foundation’s Leif & Inger Sjöberg Prize and was nominated for the 2019 PEN Literary Award for Poetry in Translation. Her translation of Tómasdóttir’s Hetjusögur, Herostories, is forthcoming from Deep Vellum in November 2022.

Randi Ward is a poet, translator, lyricist, and photographer from Belleville, WV. She earned her MA in Cultural Studies from the University of the Faroe Islands and has twice won the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Nadia Christensen Prize. Her work has appeared in Asymptote, Beloit Poetry Journal, Words Without Borders, World Literature Today and has been featured on Folk Radio UK, NPR, and PBS NewsHour. She is a recipient of Shepherd University’s Appalachian Photography Award, and Cornell University Library established the Randi Ward Collection in its Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections in 2015. For more information, visit randiward.com.

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