Featured Selection: Contemporary Faroese and Danish Poetry

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I’ve been back in my home state of West Virginia for a couple of years now. One friend tells me that she can hear me “slip back into my drawl” when I talk to my dog, Sarge. At a lunch meeting recently, the man across the table put down his fork mid-sentence, gave me a quizzical look, and said, “Are you sure you’re from here? Your English is so clean.” His comment brought to mind images of my grandma scrubbing the barnyard muck from my school shoes all the while correcting my posture and speech.

 

Lately, I’ve been seeing T-shirts and decals featuring the silhouette of the state of West Virginia; the word home is written on the state. Sometimes there’s a period as well, home., and the word is positioned diagonally. Home fits comfortably inside the boundaries of the state of West Virginia, yet it looks strange to me. I’ve been saying for some time now that I’m going to design a T-shirt that says “Displacement Begins At Home.” I joke about it, but there’s a heart-rending reality to this that many of us know all too well. The truth is that every day I am home, I am still trying to get home— still trying to make it, and me, my home. The Faroese and Danish poets I’ve selected for Plume’s October issue are also struggling with various forms of displacement – cultural / emotional / psychological / physical / spiritual / social – that began at home.

 

All of the Faroese poets in this special feature – Daniella Louisa Andreasen, Sissal Kampmann, Vónbjørt Vang, Oddfríður Marni Rasmussen, Guðrið Helmsdal, and Tóroddur Poulsen – left the Faroe Islands and spent a number of years in Denmark. Not only did these poets have to negotiate a language, culture, and geography very different from their native archipelago’s, they were also faced with the postcolonial politics of being Faroese people living / studying / working in Denmark. Some Danes, citing an annual subsidy from the Danish government to the Faroe Islands, call the Faroese “freeloaders” while Faroese nationalists and language purists have been known to refer to Faroese expats in Denmark as “concrete Faroese.” This dynamic, not to mention the hybridities of language / identity that these poets constantly speak / write / live, can lead to chronic feelings of ambivalence that become, in reality, their own kind of homeplace.

 

Sissal Kampmann’s Sunnudagsland (Sundayland, 2016), currently nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize, foregrounds the phenomenology of a displacement that continues to take place after returning home to the Faroe Islands. The narrator attempts to reconcile herself to a Sundayland kind of life in a village that constantly leaves her feeling melancholy, disoriented, and alienated: the weather, the landscape, the passage of time, memory, everyday routines, convention, unfulfilling relationships all leave the narrator with the disturbing awareness that she is participating in becoming something she doesn’t want to be. These elements, and the existential struggle against habitual self-displacement, are also very much present in the Danish poetry of Marianne Koluda Hansen and Tove Meyer as are the longing for hope and renewal. The “indefinite pain” that Meyer calls her “homeland” nevertheless gives way to relief and gratitude when, as Hansen writes, “a little unexpected joy is let loose / grows / despite my sterilization / that evidently never / can be completed entirely.”

 

Even beloved Danish poet and musician Benny Andersen speaks of the tortures of enculturation; becoming more Danish, he writes with palpable satire, made him “a resident of the land of the smile” though “it is not funny at all.” Aarhus-born Yahya Hassan hits even harder with his scathing critique of his immigrant parents’ generation, what he perceives as the hypocrisies of Islam, and how he feels that his family and the Danish welfare state have failed him. On his right hand is the tattoo “ord” (both ‘word’ and ‘words’), and on the back cover of his self-titled poetry collection, Hassan’s bio blurb reads: “born in 1995, a stateless Palestinian with a Danish passport.”

 

Faroese poet, graphic artist, and musician Tóroddur Poulsen – the only Faroese poet in this feature who refuses to move back to the Faroe Islands – also rails against what he calls ‘the right-wing, corrupt pseudo-Christian mafia’ that makes him feel unwelcome in his homeland. Much like Yahya Hassan, Poulsen has been physically assaulted as a result of his work and outspoken criticism. The poems “Dreaming,” “Assignment,” and “Longing” are from Poulsen’s poetry collection Fjalir (Planks, 2013) wherein a Faroese narrator pries his way back into the infrastructure of his consciousness to reconstitute himself amid nightmarish manifestations of fabricated consensus. By painstakingly carving his way through a stifling symbiosis of national romantic nostalgia, colonized then purged language, and wounded selves, the narrator works toward artistic and spiritual autonomy using the very agents that have thwarted him.

 

As in Poulsen’s poems, sometimes we just want “to get home / and go to bed” despite how that can be so much more complicated and painful than we ever seem to realize. Even though our dreams and longings are not without risk, and we may never be safely or definitively home, it’s good to know that we can always “wake up writing this” and find a home there — no matter where we happen to find ourselves or whatever this happens to be.

 

—Randi Ward 28 September 2017

 

 

 

 

Daniella Louisa Andreasen

 

Copenhagen hates me

 

I came home

 

Stumbled over a word

I’d never heard before

 

You went quiet

in a new way

 

 

Copenhagen hates me

 

Eg kom heim

 

Snávaði um eitt orð

eg ikki hevði hoyrt fyrr

 

Tú tagdi

upp á ein nýggjan máta

  

 

When I swept

under the throw pillows

this morning

I saw

the laughter was still

there

 

 

 

Tá eg støvseyg

undir sofapútunum

í morgun

sá eg

at láturin lá har

enn

 

 

 

Daniella Louisa Andreasen is a Faroese author from Tórshavn born in 1975. After stints as a journalist and student at the University of the Faroe Islands, she moved to Denmark and gained a following as one of the first and most prominent Faroese bloggers. Andreasen wrote about motherhood, mental illness, her sex life, and substance abuse in raw, unapologetic terms that shocked readers in the Faroe Islands. In 2011, she debuted with a collection of short stories, Dilemma, based on the format of her blog. Monologues, brisk narratives, dialogues, and poems unfold colloquially and seamlessly blend languages in a way that exposes the dynamic spectrum of cultural and identity crises that many Faroese expats experience in Denmark. Daniella Andreasen’s new poetry collection, Fragment, was published by Sprotin in 2017.

 

 

Randi Ward is a poet, translator, lyricist, and photographer from West Virginia. She earned her MA in Cultural Studies from the University of the Faroe Islands and is a recipient of the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Nadia Christensen Prize. Ward’s work has appeared in the Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Fiction and Poetry from West Virginia, Vencil: Anthology of Contemporary Faroese LiteratureWorld Literature Today, and other publications. MadHat Press published Ward’s second full-length poetry collection, Whipstitches, in 2016. For more information, please visit randiward.com/about.

 

 

  

 

Marianne Koluda Hansen

 

The Calendar

 

Elsebeth has a calendar

where she makes note of

everything important

all the family birthdays

who they have visited when

what they ate

and what she served

when they had guests

some things are so routine

that she doesn’t need

to enter them in the calendar

things like

hairdresser every Wednesday morning

and fertilizing the flowers Thursday

she would also have liked

to establish a weekly fish day

but Mogens can’t stand fish

so now Elsebeth eats fish

those nights when Mogens

has meetings or overtime

and then doesn’t come home and eat

sometimes

she eats more fish

than she really cares to

but she eats it

anyway

because she knows about herself

that she has always loved fish

and if she started to prepare something other

than fish those nights

it would be the same

as admitting to herself

that she were alone too much

and then she would

be upset about it

she also has

a silly little secret:

she keeps track of

how often she and Mogens

go to bed

not because sex means

everything to her

but it’s still as if

it’s a measurement of something

how well you’re getting along

or if you’re starting

to get old

she has invented

an ingenious system

so that Mogens doesn’t

guess what it is

if he happens to look

in her red spiral calendar

every other time she makes

a red cross

on the previous date

every other time

a blue circle

three days later

Mogens will never figure that out

but for that matter

it is unlikely

that he would look

in her calendar:

she knows what he thinks

about those things

that mean something to her

 

 

Kalenderen

 

Elsebeth har en kalender

hvor hun noterer

alt vigtigt

alle familiens fødselsdage

hvem de har besøgt hvornår

hvad de fik

og hvad hun selv har serveret

når de har haft gæster

nogle ting ligger så fast

at hun ikke behøver

føre dem ind i kalenderen

sådan noget som

frisør hver onsdag formiddag

og substral til blomsterne torsdag

hun ville osse gerne

ha indført en ugentlig fiskedag

men Mogens ka ikke fordrage fisk

så nu spiser Elsebeth fisk

de aftener hvor Mogens

er til møder eller har overarbejde

og derfor ikke kommer hjem og spiser

sommetider

får hun mere fisk

end hun egentlig bryder sig om

men hun spiser det

alligevel

for hun ved med sig selv

at hun altid har elsket fisk

og hvis hun begyndte at lave noget andet

end fisk de aftener

ville det være det samme

som at indrømme over for sig selv

at man var for meget alene

og så var hun

blevet ked af det

hun har osse

en lille pjanket hemmelighed:

hun fører regnskab med hvor tit

hun og Mogens

går i seng med hinanden

ikke fordi sex betyder

det helt store for hende

men det er alligevel som om

det er et mål for et eller andet

hvor godt man har det sammen

eller om man er ved

at blive gammel

hun har udtænkt

et sindrigt system

for at Mogens ikke

ska gætte hvad det er

hvis han finder på at kigge

i hendes røde spiralkalender

hveranden gang sætter hun

et rødt kryds

ved den foregående dato

hveranden gang

en blå cirkel

tre dage efter

det finder Mogens garanteret aldrig ud af

men forresten

er det usandsynligt

at han sku kigge

i hendes kalender:

hun ved hvad han tænker

om de ting

som har betydning for hende

 

 

 

Virgin Birth

 

there is always something to look forward to

in the winter

I look forward to summer

in the summer I look forward to

winter starting so I can

start looking forward to next summer

 

when I am at the dentist

I look forward to being done

when I am at a party I look forward

to coming home

and thinking back on the party

writing about it in my diary

and getting my pictures developed

 

I archive my

experiences

even before I

have begun to experience them

 

and the joy of expectation

is decimated only

by the anxiety that the joy

will not be able to

live up to my expectations

 

I guess I’m not very good at living in the now

the moment

entrenches itself

under an unapproachable

bell jar of bulletproof glass

created by all the

movie memories

batch-produced serial dreams

and bacteriological advertising tricks

that have completely

sterilized me

 

it’s worst when it’s at its

best

I can see the sun and

hear the birds

notice the scent of the flowers

and I know I’m on vacation but I

don’t feel anything

try desperately to outwit

the moment

take it by surprise

by force

when it’s sleeping

but I am driven back violently by

a flood of expectations of

the moment

the situation

blocked by an impassable mountain

of postponed joy

from all those days

when I didn’t have time

an enormous debt I never

will be able to pay

 

but once in a great while

when it’s raining and I’m

unhappy

totally defenseless

unprepared as I am for

encountering the smallest amount of happiness

the moment suddenly outwits me

in the form of a bird

a child’s laughter

an unexpected bush

and a little unexpected joy is let loose

grows

despite my sterilization

that evidently never

can be completed entirely

 

 

 

 

Jomfrufødsel

 

der er altid noget at glæde sig til:

om vinteren

glæder jeg mig til sommer

om sommeren glæder jeg mig til at

det bliver vinter så jeg kan

begynde at glæde mig til næste sommer

 

når jeg er hos tandlægen

glæder jeg mig til at blive færdig

når jeg er til fest glæder jeg mig

til at komme hjem

og tænke tilbage på festen

skrive om det i min dagbog

og få mine billeder fremkaldt

 

jeg arkiverer mine

oplevelser

allerede inden jeg

er begyndt at opleve dem

 

og forventningens glæde

ødelægges kun

af angsten for at glæden

ikke skal kunne

stå mål med mine forventninger

 

jeg er vist ikke så god til at leve i nuet

øjeblikket

forskanser sig

under en utilnærmelig

osteklokke af skudsikkert glas

skabt af alle de

filmminder

seriefremstillede drømme

og bakteriologiske reklametricks

som fuldkommen har

steriliseret mig

 

det er værst når det er

allerbedst:

jeg kan se solen og

høre fuglene

mærke blomsternes dufte

og jeg ved jeg har ferie men jeg

føler ikke noget

prøver desperat at overliste

øjeblikket

tage det bagfra

med vold

når det sover

men trænges brutalt tilbage af

en flodbølge af forventninger til

øjebliket

situationen

standses af et uoverstigeligt bjerg

af udsat glæde

fra alle de dage

jeg ikke havde tid

en kæmpemæssig gæld jeg aldrig

vil kunne betale

 

men en sjælden gang imellem

når det er regnvejr og jeg er

ulykkelig

helt forsvarsløs

uforberedt som jeg er på

at møde den mindste lille glæde

overlister øjeblikket pludselig mig

i skikkelse af en fugl

en barnelatter

en uventet busk

og en lille boblende glæde undfanges

vokser

trods min sterilisation

som åbenbart aldrig

kan gennemføres helt

 

 

 

Violence

 

I know exactly

how I am going to

flutter my

artistic satin sleeves

to get our friends to

force you into

that bone-dry

math teacher role

that makes me appear

spirited and exotic

 

how can I make you jealous

when we’re at a party

so I have to

go home with you

at the proper moment

while I’m still bubbling over

and before the awkward scene

and the hangovers appear

 

I can extinguish the gleam

in my eyes

with the push of a button

if I want to

to get people to think

that you are holding me back

I can project my

inner conflicts

out into space

so they change into

disagreements

between the two of us

and you always get the role

of Mr. Hyde

so I can appear

completely innocent

 

I force you to

set boundaries for me

so I can keep the illusion of

my endless wit

and my boundless talents

 

 

you

have to tell me that

the impossible is not possible

I renounce

any responsibility

for my life

and back you into a corner from where

you only can slip free

dressed in all the sides

of me

that I neither can nor will

accept

 

all this

I do to you

even though

or because I love you

but maybe

it will get better now

since at least at last I

have admitted what it is I do

 

 

 

 

 

Vold

 

jeg ved lige

hvordan jeg skal

vifte med mine

kunstneriske satinærmer

for at få vores venner til

at tvinge dig ind i

den vindtørre

matematiklæreposition

som får mig til at virke

sprælsk og eksotisk

 

hvordan jeg skal gøre dig jaloux

når vi er til fest

så jeg bliver nødt til

at gå med dig hjem

på det rette tidspunkt

mens jeg endnu sprudler

og før de pinlige optrin

og tømmermændene melder sig

 

jeg kan slukke glansen

i mine øjne

som ved hjælp af et tryk på en knap

hvis det passer mig

at få folk til at tro

at du hindrer mig i at udfolde mig

jeg kan projicere mine

indre konflikter

ud i rummet

så de forvandles til

uoverensstemmelser

mellem os to

og du får altid rollen

som mister Hyde

så jeg kan fremstå som

fuldstændig ren

 

jeg tvinger dig til at

sætte grænser for mig

så jeg kan bevare illusionen om

mit endeløse vid

og mine ubegrænsede evner

 

 

du

skal fortælle mig at

det umulige ikke er muligt

jeg fralægger mig

ethvert ansvar

for mit liv

og trænger dig op i en krog hvorfra

du kun kan slippe bort

iført alle de sider

af mig

som jeg hverken kan eller vil

acceptere

 

alt det

gør jeg ved dig

selvom

eller fordi jeg elsker dig

men måske

bliver det lidt bedre nu

hvor jeg i det mindste omsider

har erkendt hvad det er jeg gør

 

 

 

 

Marianne Koluda Hansen was born on the island of Bornholm in 1951 and lived most of her life in Copenhagen, Denmark.  She earned her teaching degree in 1979 and debuted with the poetry collection Ingenmandsland (No Man’s Land) that same year. Hansen authored four books of poetry, one novel, and a textbook. She taught English and Danish for thirty years and was also a painter who held several exhibitions. Marianne K. Hansen passed away in 2014. A bilingual collection of her poetry, Average Neuroses, was published by Spuyten Duyvil Press in 2017.

 

 

 

Michael Goldman taught himself Danish in 1985 while working on a pig farm in southern Denmark.  He has received numerous translation grants for his work, and over one hundred of his translations of Danish poetry and prose have appeared in literary journals such as Rattle, Harvard Review, World Literature Today, and The International Poetry Review. Goldman is the founder of Hammer and Horn Productions, and he currently lives in Florence, Massachusetts. For more information about his work, visit www.hammerandhorn.net

 

 

 

 

Sissal Kampmann

 

From Sundayland

 

*

There’s always a sense of devastation in morning.

 

When the sun can’t be seen

rising in the east or setting in the west,

when rain beads on the balcony railing,

melts the decking,

soaks into the wooden chair

and gives it a pre-patinated finish,

empties the clotheslines,

leaves the streets a little more deserted,

hopelessness seeps

out from under the eaves.

 

 

I hear the tanker truck lumbering uphill

past the white house

where newborn squalling

drifts out through a half-open window.

 

A black-backed gull

drops a piece of bread.

The cat pounces on it

before the gull ever has a chance to dive.

 

 

 

*

Tað liggur altíð ein kensla av oyðilegging í morgninum.

 

 

Tá sólin ikki sæst rísa í eystri,

ikki sæst seta í vestri,

tá regnið legst á altangarðin,

upploysir dekkið á altangólvinum,

seyrar inn í træstólin,

gevur honum prepatina,

tømir klædnasnórarnar,

leggur gøturnar eitt sindur meir oydnar

enn tær annars høvdu verið,

dagar vónloysið fram undan væðingini.

 

 

Eg hoyri oljubilin dragsa seg niðan brekkuna,

har nýføddi gráturin

roynir flog gjøgnum hálvopna vindeygað

í hvíta húsinum.

 

 

Ein likka missir eitt breyð

úr nevinum.

Kettan er frammi,

áðrenn hon nær at kava.

 

 

 

 

 

Mussels, seaweed, and queen scallops

live along the shore.

I really like poems about limpets and marine life.

Spineless creatures and spineless people.

It’s interesting to think about

cellar-dwellers and hunchbacked creatures

behind thick walls in damp,

dark rooms underground

while I’m sitting next to the radiator

eating almonds.

The descaled kettle comes to a boil.

My breath and will to live

slowly disperse with the steam

rolling toward the ceiling.

 

 

The door just flew open.

No one knocks around here.

Something’s tossed onto the foyer floor.

The racing pulse and dread that someone’s come to visit

disappear

with the soft sound of the door closing.

There must be weather stripping on the frame muffling the sound.

That was probably just the postman making his rounds, yes.

 

 

It’s stopped raining,

the sun breaks through a tiny rift in the clouds.

It’s so cold and raw

it could just as well be

the beginning

of November

or Eastertime.

 

 

One side of the village

is bathed in sunlight now,

and I know you can imagine

how it looks.

 

The sun slips back behind the clouds,

and this weather report

has come to an end.

 

 

 

Niðri í fjøruni búgva kræklingarnir,

tarin og jákupsskeljarnar.

Mær dámar væl yrkingar um fliður og havdjór.

Ryggleys djór og ryggleys menniskju.

Kjallaramenniskju og kúlutar verur

handan tjúkkar múrar í vátum,

myrkum rúmum undir jørð

eru áhugaverd at hugsa um,

tá mann situr tætt við radiatorin

og etur mandlur,

meðan kálkleysi ketilin kókar.

Meðan lívshugurin og andin

spakuliga rísur upp móti loftinum

við dampinum.

 

 

Nú hoyrdist hurðin ríkja.

Her banka fólk ikki uppá.

Okkurt bleiv blakað á gólvið í gongini.

Hjartabankanin og óttin fyri at onkur kom á vitjan,

hvarv skjótt aftur,

tá hon varð latin aftur við einum bleytum ljóði.

Har er helst ein gummilisti, ið dempar ljóðið.

Hatta var helst postmaðurin, ið kom framvið, ja.

 

 

Tað regnar ikki meir,

sólin brýtur gjøgnum eitt lítið hol.

Her er so kalt og rátt,

at tað akkurát tað sama

kundi verið byrjanin av

novembur,

ella páskir.

 

 

Ein partur av bygdini

liggur nú baðaður í ljósi,

og eg veit, tú kanst ímynda tær,

hvussu tað sær út.

 

 

Nú hvarv hon aftur handan skýggini,

og veðurtíðindini

eru av á hesum sinni.

 

 

*

In this reality, I fry the hearts of lambs.

Here in my new home,

in my new skin,

I slice hearts into small pieces.

I remove the sinews and clotted blood.

I leave the fat intact

and watch them shrivel up

in the sizzling oil.

I see their final throes.

The life ebbs out of them,

blends with onion, salt, pepper

and a faint ray

of sunlight

nearly obscured by a cloud

over the dam.

 

The cat eats from her bowl.

Noisily.

She has blue eyes.

The man lies napping.

Quietly.

He has blue eyes.

 

The mountains are peeking into the kitchen.

 

I keep stirring

but turn down the heat.

No one likes scorched hearts.

 

 

 

 

*

Í hesum veruleikanum steiki eg lambshjørtu.

Her í mínum nýggja heimi,

í mínum nýggja hami,

skeri eg tey sundur í smáar bitar.

Taki burtur sveitar og sinur,

men feittið lati eg sita.

Síggi tey kreppa seg saman

í glóðheitu oljuni.

Síggi seinastu brotakøstini,

áðrenn lívið fjarar úr teimum,

blanda seg við leyki, salti, pipari

og eini kámari strálu

frá sólini,

nærum fjald handan skýggj

yvir demninginum.

 

 

Kettan etur av skálini.

Larmandi.

Hon hevur blá eygu.

Maðurin liggur og blundar.

Stillisliga.

Hann hevur blá eygu.

 

 

Uttanífrá hyggja fjøllini inn í køkin.

 

 

Eg røri í pannuni.

Skrúvi niður fyri hitanum.

Ongum dámar brend hjørtu.

 

 

 

 

Sissal Kampmann was born in the small town of Vestmanna in 1974. She earned her MA in Nordic Literature and Cultural Communication from the University of Copenhagen. Her debut poetry collection, Ravnar á ljóðleysum flogi – Yrkingar úr uppgongdini, was published in 2011 and quickly established her as an important new voice in Faroese literature and beyond. Kampmann became the first Faroese poet to win the Danish Literary Academy’s prestigious Klaus Rifbjerg Prize. The prize is awarded every other year to a debut collection written by a poet from the Danish Kingdom. Kampmann is the author of five books of poetry. Her latest collection, Sunnudagsland (Sundayland, 2016), is the Faroe Islands’ nominee for this year’s Nordic Council Literature Prize.

 

 

 

 

Randi Ward is a poet, translator, lyricist, and photographer from West Virginia. She earned her MA in Cultural Studies from the University of the Faroe Islands and is a recipient of the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Nadia Christensen Prize. Ward’s work has appeared in the Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Fiction and Poetry from West Virginia, Vencil: Anthology of Contemporary Faroese LiteratureWorld Literature Today, and other publications. MadHat Press published Ward’s second full-length poetry collection, Whipstitches, in 2016. For more information, please visit randiward.com/about.

 

 

 

Benny Andersen

 

Smile

 

I was born with a wail

bawling I was baptized

cried when I was hit

screamed when stung by a bee

but gradually I became more Danish

learned to smile at the world

at the photographer

at doctors

police officers and perverts

became a resident of the land of the smile

a smile keeps away flies and keeps the mind clean

light and air are good for the teeth

if you’re late

if you go bankrupt

if you get run over

just smile

the tourists come streaming

to see smiling traffic casualties

chuckling homeless

cackling bereaved

 

I can’t get rid of my smile

sometimes I want to cry

or just be down in the mouth

or protest the smiles of others

that conceal rottenness and bloodthirst

but my own smile is in the way

juts out like a cow-catcher

rips hats and glasses off of people

I bear my smile with a smile

my half-moon yoke

on which I hang worries to dry

I have to turn my head sideways

when I pass through a doorway

I am a resident of the land of the smile

it is not funny at all.

 

 

 

Smil

 

Jeg blev født med et vræl

skrålende modtog jeg dåben

tudede når jeg blev tævet

skreg når bier stak mig

men blev gradvis mere dansk

lærte at smile til verden

til fotografen

til læger

betjente og lokkere

blev borger i smilets land

smil holder fluerne borte og sindet rent

og tænderne har godt af lys og luft

kommer du for sent

går du fallit

blir du kørt over

bare smil

turister strømmer til

for at se smilende trafikofre

klukkende husvilde

kaglende efterladte

 

jeg kan ikke få mit smil af

undertiden vil jeg græde

eller bare hænge med skuffen

eller protestere mod andre smil

der dækker over råddenskab og blodtørst

men mit eget smil er i vejen

rager ud som kofanger

river hatte og briller af folk

jeg bærer med smil mit smil

mit halvmåneåg

hvorpå man hænger bekymringer til tørre

jeg må lægge hodet på siden

når jeg skal gennem en dør

jeg er borger i smilets land

det er ikke spor morsomt.

 

 

 

 

 

Time

 

We have twelve clocks in our house

still we don’t have enough time

You go to the kitchen

get chocolate milk for your skinny son

but when you return

he’s gotten too old for chocolate milk

demands beer girls revolution

You’ve got to make use of the time while you’ve got it

Your daughter comes home from school

goes out to hopscotch

comes in a bit later

and asks if you could watch the baby

while she and her husband go to the theater

and while they’re at the theater

the child with some difficulty passes

eleventh grade

You’ve got to make use of the time while you’ve got it

You photograph your wife still young

wearing a sumptuous gypsy scarf

and in the background a luxuriant water fountain

but the picture is barely developed

before she announces that it’s nearly

her turn to apply for Social Security

so gently the widow in her awakens

You want to make the most of your time

but all the time it’s slipping away

where’s it going

was it ever there

did you spend too much time

trying to make the time last

You’ve got to make use of the time in time

wander for a time without time or place

and when the time has come

call home and hear

“The number you have dialed 765-4321

is not in service.”

Click.

 

 

 

Tiden

 

Vi har tolv ure i huset

alligevel slår tiden ikke til

Man går ud i sit køkken

henter kakaomælk til sin spinkle søn

men når man vender tilbage

er han blevet for gammel til kakaomælk

kræver øl piger revolution

Man må udnytte tiden mens man har den

Ens datter kommer fra skole

går ud for at hinke

kommer ind lidt efter

og spør om man vil passe den lille

mens hun og manden går i teatret

og mens de er i teatret

rykker den lille med noget besvær

op i 3. G.

Man må udnytte tiden mens man har den

Man fotograferer sin hidtil unge hustru

med blodrigt sigøjnertørklæde

og som baggrund et yppigt springvand

men næppe er billedet fremkaldt

før hun forkynder at det så småt

er hendes tur til at få folkepension

så sagte vågner enken i hende

Man vil gerne udnytte tiden

men den blir væk hele tiden

hvor blir den af

har den nogensinde været der

har man brugt for megen tid

på at trække tiden ud

Man må udnytte tiden i tide

flakke om en tid uden tid og sted

og når tiden er inde

ringe hjem og høre

“De har kaldt 95 94 93 92?

Der er ingen abonnent på det nummer.”

Klik.

 

 

 

 

 

Bird of Unhappiness

 

Not so strange that he looks down

excuses himself from greetings and acquaintances

even in a careful gait with introverted feet

he leaves behind inadvertent biers and kindling

toppling ladders and falling roof tiles

complicated breaches of trust and injured hopes

Not so strange that he holds his arms and eyes close to his body

chooses thinly populated lanes

with his following of excited samaritans

Uneasy he passes the church

abandons confession for fear of getting sprained wings on his conscience

crosses himself just as the bell-ringer falls clanging down from the tower

Passes the travel agency

would rather order a ticket to an unnoticed mountain

and spend his life there as a hermit

but he cannot bear the thought of being questioned by freezing monks

as the only survivor after a plane crash

Hurries past the plaza the hospital the courthouse

the newspaper stand with fresh handbills about the earthquake

that occurred when he cracked his morning egg

Not so strange that he speeds up to shake off the iodine vapors

sticks his fingers in his ears so as not to hear

the yells from fighting children in cellarways

Out of breath he makes it home

heartbroken over his well-being

counts blisters and corns to fall asleep

and dreams about well-fitting life vests

sales on fire extinguishers

large-scale rescues

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ulykkesfugl

 

Ikke sært han ser ned for sig

undslår sig for hilsener og bekendtskaber

selv i forsigtig gangart med indadvendte fødder

efterlader han sig uforvarende bårer og brande

væltende stiger og skridende tagsten

komplicerede tillidsbrud og kvæstede forhåbninger

Ikke sært han holder arme og øjne tæt ind til kroppen

vælger tyndt befærdede stræder

med sit følge af spændte samaritter

Beklemt passerer han kirken

opgir at skrifte af frygt for at få forstuvede vinger på samvittigheden

korser sig blot da klokkeren styrter klemtende ned fra tårnet

Passerer rejsebureauet

ville helst bestille billet til et ubemærket bjerg

og henleve der som eremit

men kan ikke bære tanken om at blive afhørt af frysende munke

som eneste overlevende efter et flytstyrt

Skynder sig forbi torvet hospitalet domhuset

aviskiosken med friske løbesedler om jordskælvet

der indtraf da han slog hul på sit morgenæg

Ikke sært han sætter farten op for at ryste jodemmen af sig

stikker fingrene i ørerne for ikke at høre

skrigene fra skændende børn i kælderhalse

Stakåndet når han hjem

fortvivlet over sit helskind

tæller vabler og ligtorne for at falde i søvn

og drømme om velsiddende redningsveste

udsalg af skumslukkere

storstilede undsætninger

 

 

 

 

 

Benny Andersen was born in Vangede in 1929 and spent his childhood in Søborg. His first poems were published in the literary magazine Heretica, and his debut poetry collection, Den musikalske ål (The Musical Eel), appeared in 1960. Andersen is now considered one of Denmark’s most beloved contemporary poets and lyricists. He has authored twenty-one volumes of poetry in addition to the many records, stories, screenplays and children’s books he has also released. Andersen has garnered critical acclaim and awards throughout his long career, and he continues to perform to sold-out audiences. Something To Live Up To, a bilingual collection of selected poems by Andersen, was published by Spuyten Duyvil Press in 2017.

 

 

 

 

Michael Goldman taught himself Danish in 1985 while working on a pig farm in southern Denmark.  He has received numerous translation grants for his work, and over one hundred of his translations of Danish poetry and prose have appeared in literary journals such as Rattle, Harvard Review, World Literature Today, and The International Poetry Review. Goldman is the founder of Hammer and Horn Productions, and he currently lives in Florence, Massachusetts. For more information about his work, visit www.hammerandhorn.net

 

 

 

 

Oddfríður Marni Rasmussen

 

 

 

 

angels are beating

on my heart with their clenched fists

asking for the trash

 

 

 

 

 

 

einglar banka upp

á hjartað við nevunum

biðja um ruskið

 

 

 

 

 

 

a silver morning

is sprouting out of darkness

when the floorboards creak

 

 

 

 

silvurmorgunin

veksur upp úr náttini

har gólvið knakar

 

 

 

 

 

winter goes greyer

with each stroke of the razor

along my jawline

 

 

 

 

 

fyri hvørja ferð

eg raki mær um vangan

gránar veturin

 

 

 

Oddfríður Marni Rasmussen, a Faroese poet, educator and translator from the village of Sandur on Sandoy, was born in 1969. He is the first Faroese author to attend the Danish Writers Academy in Copenhagen. Rasmussen is a two-time recipient of the M.A. Jacobsen Literature Award and has received grants from Nils Kevin Jacobsen’s Family Fund, Grosserer L. F. Foght’s Fund, and the Faroese Cultural Foundation. He is the author of sixteen collections of poetry. Rasmussen currently resides in Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands. He is the co-editor and co-founder of Vencil, a Faroese literary magazine that has been publishing contemporary Faroese literature alongside international literature in Faroese translation since 2006.

 

 

 

 

Randi Ward is a poet, translator, lyricist, and photographer from West Virginia. She earned her MA in Cultural Studies from the University of the Faroe Islands and is a recipient of the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Nadia Christensen Prize. Ward’s work has appeared in the Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Fiction and Poetry from West Virginia, Vencil: Anthology of Contemporary Faroese LiteratureWorld Literature Today, and other publications. MadHat Press published Ward’s second full-length poetry collection, Whipstitches, in 2016. For more information, please visit randiward.com/

 

 

  

 

 

Tove Meyer

 

Unfinished Cement Road

 

In front of the yet untouched, you stopped short:

a gray threat of order, progress and death

in the budding day. Against your ruler-straight body,

my spite and the indefinite pain

that is my homeland turn to dust. Certain and pious as a vixen,

you wait to stretch out. It is my fate

to always shy away from things.

 

The turf path hesitates irresolutely

by the sunken bridge, winds decisively

between algae and moss and brown, still water

and continues toward the abandoned house

comfortable with the catkins’ swinging larval bodies

and the calcified piping of the rush.

 

The heart wanders here, too, with the invisible

funeral procession of the days behind it—the days that alone are untouched

by cement threats and death—the days that

never grew long enough for its song—. Searching for

the origin of the echo, the hidden breeding ground of renewal,

an exposed nest between death and death.

 

But the plough opens the field’s embrace

to the dark snow of the birds.

And the horse is waiting on the hill in great peace.

Behind it, a new day unfolds

like a shining leaf

on the budding year.

 

 

 

 

 

Ufærdig betonvej

 

Foran det endnu uberørte er du standset op:

en grå trussel om orden, fremskridt og død

i den spirende dag. Mod din lineal-lige krop

forstøves min trods og den ubestemte smerte

som er mit hjemland. Sikker og rævefrom

venter du på at strække dig ud. Min lod er det

at vige altid udenom.

 

Tørvestien tøver tvivlrådig

ved den sunkne bro, snor sig beslutsomt

mellem alger og mos og brunt stille vand

og går videre mod det forladte hus

fortrolig mod pileraklernes svingende larvekroppe

og sivenes forkalkede piben.

 

Her strejfer også hjertet med dagenes usynlige

ligtog bag sig—dagene, ene uberørte

af betontrusler og død—dagene, der aldrig

blev lange nok til dets sang—. Søger ekkoets

udspring, fornyelsens skjulte yngleplads,

en udsat rede mellem død og død.

 

Men ploven åbner markens favn

for fuglenes mørke sne.

Og hesten venter på bakken i stor ro.

Bag den folder en ny dag sig ud

som et blankt blad

på det spirende år.

 

 

 

 

 

  

The Marsh

 

Within us your paths stretched

like dark branches on the tree of loneliness

a frost age long—and the hands of time glided

through our winter-dank hair, the time

that brought the sun’s face closer to your

closed eyes.

 

Frost membranes burst across the depths of your eyes, now

visited by migrating birds that leave the whistling straw and row away

through the ocean of air. A parting turns into a welcome

where light whirls down,

green from youth and wind in your

yielding, mould-framed darkness.

 

In the crown of the wild apple tree, the tiny

silver trumpet of the titmouse

warns of good, heavy rains. Sweet and

rancid, the smoke drifts through withered gardens

where men and women in black sacrifice winter-

tender branches on the altar of spring, and the children linked

in song veer into the fog

like fading rainbows.

 

The heart speaks anew in your closed landscape,

big and attentive, senses wide open

drinking—still in silence, the darkness—the word

hidden under death’s moss: Listen, springs and worms

are awake deep down. See the light clouds of

leafing about our shoulders, the sunset’s tree of fire

charred behind your rugged horizon.

 

Twilight’s gentle melancholy on

our eyelids—.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mose

 

I os strakte dine stier sig

som mørke grene på ensomhedens træ

en frosttid lang—og tidens hænder gled

gennem vort vinterklamme hår, tiden

der førte solens ansigt nærmere

til dine lukkede øjne.

 

Frosthinder brast over øjnenes dyb, nu

gæster fremmede fugle, forlader de

hvislende strå og ror bort gennem

havet af luft. Afsked bliver velkomst

hvor lys hvirvler ned, grønt

af ungdom og vind i dit

vigende muld-ramme mørke.

 

I det vilde æbletræs krone varsler

musvittens lille sølvtrompet

god, tung regn. Sød og harsk driver røgen

gennem forvitrede haver, hvor mænd og

kvinder i sort ofrer vintermørnede grene

på forårets alter, og børnenes syngende

kæder som falmende regnbuer

drejer ind i tågen.

 

Hjertet taler på ny i dit lukkede

landskab, stort og lydhørt, sanser vidtåbne

drikker—endnu i tavsedheden, mørket—ordet

skjult under dødens mos: Lyt, kilder og orme

står vågne i dybet. Se, løvspringets lette

skyer om vore skulder, solnedgangens ildtræ

forkullet bag din ru horisont.

 

Skumringens blide tungsind

på vore øjenlåg—.

 

 

 

 

Tove Meyer was born in Usserød, on the island of Zealand, in 1913 and grew up in Holte. She debuted with Guds Palet in 1935 and dedicated the poetry collection to her idol, poet Helge Rode. Meyer published six volumes of poetry. Her last two collections, Havoffer (1961) and Brudlinier (1967), eventually earned her critical acclaim. Throughout her career, Meyer’s work also won awards such as the Writers Association Grant, the Emma Bærentzen Grant, the Kai Hoffmann Grant, and the Edith Rode Grant. Subsequent generations of Danish writers have drawn inspiration from the tension between surrealist and symbolist poetics that often characterizes Meyer’s work. Tove Meyer died in Virum in 1972.

 

 

Nina Sokol is a poet and translator who earned her master’s degree in English language and literature from the University of Copenhagen.  She was a grant poet-in-residence at The Vermont Studio Center in 2011 and has received several grants from the Danish Arts Council to translate contemporary Danish plays. Sokol’s work has appeared in journals such as Miller’s Pond, The Brooklyn Rail, and the Hiram Poetry Review. Her collection, Escape and Other Poems, was released by Lapwing Publications in 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

Guðrið Helmsdal

 

 

Morning Frost

 

Morning frost

 

Flight of ravens

 

Windborne

wings

 

 

 

 

 

Morgunfrost

 

Morgunfrost

 

Ravnaflog

 

Vindbornir

veingir

 

 

 

  

Ruins

Gaping

ruins

 

Wind kicks

up the snow

 

Domes

the dusted rubble

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruinen

 

Ruinen

gabende

 

Vindens leg

med sneen

 

Kupler den

Hvidpudret

 

 

 

 

 

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-flushed 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

 

 

 

Guðrið Helmsdal was born in Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands, in 1941. She became the first Faroese woman to publish a volume of poetry written in the Faroese language when her book, Lýtt lot, appeared in 1963. Her debut collection’s uncanny precision of image, and shift to a more personal poetics, signaled a modernist breakthrough in Faroese literature. When Helmsdal received the M.A. Jacobsen Literature Award in 1974, the Faroese committee wrote: “Lýtt lot and Morgun í mars have opened a new chapter in Faroese literary history by blazing a trail for women’s literature in the Faroe Islands”. Guðrið Helmsdal’s most recent bilingual collection, Stjørnuakrar-Sternenfelder, was published in Germany in 2006.

 

 

 

 

Randi Ward is a poet, translator, lyricist, and photographer from West Virginia. She earned her MA in Cultural Studies from the University of the Faroe Islands and is a recipient of the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Nadia Christensen Prize. Ward’s work has appeared in the Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Fiction and Poetry from West Virginia, Vencil: Anthology of Contemporary Faroese LiteratureWorld Literature Today, and other publications. MadHat Press published Ward’s second full-length poetry collection, Whipstitches, in 2016. For more information, please visit randiward.com/about.

 

 

 

 

 

Niels Lyngsø

 

XLIV

 

from above                                                                                          from below

the shadow rushes

into clinical white

 

A cramp clamps your entire body                                         Your face bursts

tightens every single fiber                                                          a geyser rises

and when it subsides                                                          in dead calm pools

mud gushes out                                                                              eyes flood

your voice                                                                             flow over cheeks

has become indefinable                               the mouth is pried opened farther

deeper as if more hoarse                                              than I thought possible

it reaches me from its place                                              pushes uvula larynx

beneath the earth                                                             out through the teeth

and drags a space along                                           where it simply grumbles

of stone masses’ concerted movement                                 and clicks

slabs that rumble over each other                                the ears are drawn back

tightened membranes that burst drive                            as if they should come

wedges into flesh holding                   us                          together at the neck

it firmly in a network of cramps                                          yes the face bursts

turns it inside out the way                                  your whole body turns inside

a glove is turned                                                         out like gloves that turn

the quiet at once flesh                                now it is your womb that has burst

wrested free of your flesh                             a small and only just living lump

a body covered in                                is unplugged covered in brown mucous

mucous and panic a                                                  with mute gesturing arms

creature from another world                                  like branches in a firestorm

the turbine’s shriek decreases                                          the mouth opens and

the machine has landed                                                                    shuts mute

the hectic                                                                       plastic tubes now suck

gesticulations calm down                                                 a sea from the lungs

the child cries                                                                             the child cries

now it is finally among us

 

 

 

 

still you are among us

You are already in a distant sky                                                     The soul’s gauzy net

behind your eyes somewhere                                                                          withdraws

on the mold-gray brain stone                                          from the coarser muscle fibers

you sit and cry like                                                         hisses out of the tissue   nerves

a little girl completely alone                                                        short-circuit and sit as

cirrus clouds drift out of the iris’                                  bristling and soot stained copper

mind blowing light blue patterns                      threads in the flesh a sweet smelling air

the pupil’s black sun draws back                               without the soul’s electric tremble

you are in the dark tunnel                                                 the muscles grow cold     cells

my voice reaches you like                                            in wild confusion     riot     panic

echoes from another world                                          under the skin’s parchment     all

blending with other voices                                                  must leave the sinking body

your sister your mother and your father                                         this is not an exercise

whom you never knew                                                        the whole body is evacuated

and the one you knew as father                                          all cells are deserted emptied

you try to hold onto your soul                                     all doors are slammed all hatches

but it foams up floats out                                             fastened lungs taps blood vessels

you must let it go drop by drop                               quivering soul fragments on the run

cell by cell is leaked of life                                          they tumble up the steps through

your glance grows dim    a maelstrom                      corridors and vents up on the deck

in the iris     around the pupil                                                         there are no lifeboats

eye’s hurricane     sun storm                            they throw themselves over the gunwale

I see you from above                                                       while your hand gets more and

through cloud cover     somewhere                               more chilly more and more stiff

in the light blue sea full of                                                            I look in through your

yellow ice crystals                                                                    eyes for you you are not

you whirl around                                                                             there         your body

little girl                                                                                                             is a thing

and go down                                                                                                        in a bed

 

shadows reach out

of the clinical white

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

XLIV

 

oppefra                                                                                                                                          nedefra

skyggen slår ind

i det klinisk hvide

 

En krampe knuger hele din krop                       Dit ansigt brister

spænder hver eneste fiber                                    en gejser rejser sig

og når den slappes                                                  i blikstille søer

vælder dynd ud                                                                øjne svømmer over

din stemme                                                       flyder ned over kinder

er blevet ubestemmelig                                         munden krænges mere op

dybere ligesom mere hæs                    end jeg troed det var muligt

den når mig fra sit sted                                      skubber drøbel strubehoved

under jorden                                                   helt frem mellem tænder

og trækker et rum med                                 hvor det bare brummer

af stenmassers store bevægelser                                                og klikker

plader der rumler ind over hinanden                    ørene trækkes tilbage

udspænder hinder som brister driver                   som om de sku møde

kiler ind i kødet holder              vi                               hinanden i nakken

det fast i et net af kramper                                         ja ansigtet brister

krænger det rundt som                                       hele kroppen krænger sig

en handske der vendes                                 rundt som en handske der vendes

så stille med ét kød                                    nu er det dit skød der er bristet

vristet fri af dit kød                                      en lille og akkurat levende klump

en krop smurt ind                                    svupper ud smurt ind i brun slim

i slim og panik et                                                 med tavse fagter arme

væsen fra en anden verden                               som grene i brandstorm

turbinens hvinen aftager                                           munden åbner og

maskinen er landet                                                       lukker sig tavst

de hektiske                                                        plasticslanger suger nu

fagter falder til ro                                                havet op af lungerne

barnet græder                                                                 barnet græder

nu er det endelig hos os

 

 

 

 

endnu er du hos os

 

Du er allerede i en fjern himmel                                        Sjælens florfine net

bag dine øjne   et sted                                                         trækker sig tilbage

på den muggrå hjerneklippe                                fra de grovere muskelfibre

sidder du og græder som                                     hvisler ud af vævet   nerver

en lille pige der er helt alene                                   kortslutter og sidder som

slørskyer driver frem i iris’                                  strittende sodsvedne kobber

udknaldede lysblå mønstre                              tråde i kødet en sødelig lugt

pupillens sorte sol trækker sig                         uden sjælens elektriske sitren

bagud du er i den mørke tunnel                        blir musklerne kolde   celler

min stemme når dig som                               i vild forvirring   tumult   panik

et ekko fra en anden verden                          under hudens pergament   alle

blander sig med andre stemmer                     forlader det synkende legeme

din søster din mor og din far                                       dette er ikke en øvelse

som du aldrig har kendt                                            hele kroppen evakueres

og ham du kendte som far                                   alle celler rømmes tømmes

du prøver at holde på din sjæl                         alle døre smækkes alle luger

men den skummer op flyder ud                   lukkes lunger haner blodbaner

du må slippe den dråbe for dråbe               sitrende sjælestumper på flugt

celle for celle tømmes for liv                       de styrter op ad trapper gennem

dit blik bliver sløret   en malstrøm               gange og skakter op på dækket

i iris   rundt om pupillen                                       der er ingen redningsbåde

øjets orkan   solstorm                                      de kaster sig ud over rælingen

jeg ser dig oppefra                                          alt imens din hånd blir mer og

gennem skylag   et sted                                      mere kølig mer og mere stiv

i det lysblå hav fuld af                                                jeg spejder ind gennem

gule iskrystaller                                                         øjnene efter dig du er der

hvirvler du rundt                                                                          ikke   din krop

lille pige                                                                                               er en ting

og går under                                                                                         i en seng

 

skyggen slår ud

af det klinisk hvide

 

 

 

 

 

Niels Lyngsø is a Danish poet, novelist, editor, translator, and literary critic from Frederikssund. He debuted with the poetry collection Maske & Maskine (Mask & Machine) in 1992 and has since published five other collections of poetry. Lyngsø earned his Cand.phil. degree in literature from the University of Copenhagen and is a recipient of the Michael Strunge Prize and the Harald Kidde and Astrid Ehrencron-Kidde Grant. Lyngsø is also the author of several novels; his most recent novel, Himlen Under Jorden (Heaven Beneath the Earth), is part of a trilogy and was recently nominated for the Danish Broadcasting Corporation’s Novel Prize. Lyngsø lives in Copenhagen. A volume of his selected poems, Pencil of Rays and Spiked Mace, was published by BookThug in 2004. For more information about Lyngsø’s work, visit http://www.nielslyngsoe.dk.

 

 

Gregory Pardlo‘s ​Digest won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Digest​ was also shortlisted for the​ 2015 NAACP Image Award and was a finalist for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. Totem, Pardlo’s fist poetry collection, was selected by Brenda Hillman for the APR/Honickman Prize in 2007. Pardlo’s other honors​ include fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. His poems have appeared in American Poetry ReviewBoston Review, Gulf CoastHarvard ReviewThe Nation, and Tin House. He is also the author of Air Traffic, a memoir in essays forthcoming from Knopf. Pardlo joined the faculty of the M.F.A. program in Creative Writing at Rutgers University-Camden in the fall of 2016. He lives with his family in Brooklyn. For more information, visit http://pardlo.net.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tóroddur Poulsen

 

Dreaming

 

i dreamt

that people

who never dream

demanded

i write

down their dreams

so i told them

first they’d have to

dream the dreams

but they responded

that the dreams

are dreamless dreams

and that’s how they’re

supposed to be written

so then i admitted

that even i don’t dream that well

yet wake up writing this

 

 

 

 

 

Droymi

 

droymdi

at tey sum

aldrin droyma

kravdu av mær

at eg skrivi

teirra dreymar niður

og eg sigi við tey

at tey so fyrst mugu

droyma dreymarnar

men tey svara

at tað eru

dreymaleysir dreymar

og soleiðis skulu teir

eisini skrivast niður

og tá má eg viðganga

at so væl dugi eg ikki at droyma

og so vakni eg og skrivi hetta

 

 

Assignment

 

in this

windswept

dream

i’m dead tired

on my way down

a steep

kilometers-long

flight of stairs

with a priest

who keeps asking me

how great it is knowing

we also have eternity

to look forward to

and i keep giving him

the same dispirited answer

over and over again

i just want to get home

and go to bed

because i’m totally beat

and don’t want to hear any more

talk of an eternity

that only makes me more tired

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uppgáva

 

í hesum

vindharða

dreyminum

eri eg deyðamóður

á veg oman

nøkrum brøttum og fleiri

kilometrar longum trappum

saman við einum presti

sum spyr meg upp í saman

um tað ikki er gott at hugsa sær

at vit hava ævinleikan til góðar eisini

og eg svari uppgevandi aftur og aftur

at eg bara vil heim í song

tí eg eri púrasta útlúgvaður

og vil ikki hoyra nakað tos um ein ævinleika

sum einans møðir meg enn meira

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Longing

 

the longing

has long

since

turned

to maggots

 

he says

and takes

another

bite

of pungent

pasta

 

 

 

 

 

 

Longsilin

 

longsilin

er langt

síðani

vorðin til

maðkar

 

sigur hann

og fær sær

enn einaferð

upp í munnin

av ræstari

pasta

 

 

  

 

 

Tóroddur Poulsen is a pioneering Faroese poet, graphic artist, and musician. He was born in Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands, in 1957. Over the course of his thirty-year career, Poulsen has published over forty books and become an inimitable force in Nordic literature. He has twice received the M.A. Jacobsen Literature Award, and he was awarded the Faroe Islands’ most prestigious cultural prize, Mentanarvirðisløn Landsins, in 2012. With Fjalir (Planks, 2013), a collection of poetry and woodcut prints, Poulsen earned his sixth nomination for the Nordic Council Literature Prize. The Danish Authors Society honored Poulsen in 2016 with the Adam Oehlenschlæger, Emil Aarestrup, Herman Bang and Johannes Ewald Endownment for his invaluable contributions to Danish literature.

 

 

 

Randi Ward is a poet, translator, lyricist, and photographer from West Virginia. She earned her MA in Cultural Studies from the University of the Faroe Islands and is a recipient of the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Nadia Christensen Prize. Ward’s work has appeared in the Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Fiction and Poetry from West Virginia, Vencil: Anthology of Contemporary Faroese LiteratureWorld Literature Today, and other publications. MadHat Press published Ward’s second full-length poetry collection, Whipstitches, in 2016. For more information, please visit randiward.com/about.

 

 

  

 

 

Yahya Hassan

 

CHILDHOOD

 

 

A FATHER WITH A CLUB AND FIVE CHILDREN IN A ROW

 

CRYING AND A PUDDLE OF PISS

 

WE PUT OUT OUR HANDS IN TURN

 

FOR THE SAKE OF PREDICTABILITY

 

THE SOUND OF BLOWS RAINING DOWN

 

SISTER JUMPING SO QUICKLY

 

FROM ONE FOOT TO THE OTHER

 

DOWN HER LEGS A WATERFALL OF PISS

 

ONE HAND HELD OUT THEN THE OTHER

 

TOO SLOW

 

RANDOM BLOW

 

A BLOW A SCREAM A NUMBER

 

30 OR 40 SOMETIMES 50

 

AND A KICK IN THE ASS ON THE WAY OUT THE DOOR

 

HE GRABS BROTHER BY THE SHOULDERS

 

STRAIGHTENS HIM UP

 

BEATING AND COUNTING

 

FACE DOWN WAITNG MY TURN

 

MOTHER SMASHING PLATES IN THE STAIRWAY

 

AL JAZEERA TRANSMITS

 

HYPERACTIVE BULLDOZERS AND RESENTFUL BODY PARTS

 

GAZA STRIPPED IN SUNSHINE

 

FLAGS WILL BE BURNED

 

IF A ZIONIST DOES NOT RECOGNIZE OUR EXISTENCE

 

IF WE EVEN EXIST

 

WHEN WE HICCUP FEAR AND PAIN

 

WHEN WE GASP FOR BREATH AND MEANING

 

AT SCHOOL NO ARABIC

 

AT HOME NO DANISH

 

A BLOW A SCREAM A NUMBER

 

 

 

 

 

BARNDOM

FEM BØRN PÅ RÆKKE OG EN FAR MED EN KØLLE

FLERGRÆDERI OG EN PØL AF PIS

VI STIKKER SKIFTEVIS EN HÅND FREM

FOR FORUDSIGELIGHEDENS SKYLD

DEN DER LYD NÅR SLAGENE RAMMER

SØSTER DER HOPPER SÅ HURTIGT

FRA DEN ENE FOD TIL DEN ANDEN

PISSET ER ET VANDFALD NED AD HENDES BEN

FØRST DEN ENE HÅND FREM SÅ DEN ANDEN

GÅR DER FOR LANG TID RAMMER SLAGENE VILKÅRLIGT

ET SLAG ET SKRIG ET TAL 30 ELLER 40 TIL TIDER 50

OG ET SIDSTE SLAG I RØVEN PÅ VEJ UD AD DØREN

HAN TAGER BROR I SKULDRENE RETTER HAM OP

FORTSÆTTER MED AT SLÅ OG TÆLLE

JEG KIGGER NED OG VENTER PÅ DET BLIVER MIN TUR

MOR SMADRER TALLERKENER I OPGANGEN

SAMTIDIG MED AT AL JAZEERA TV-TRANSMITTERER

HYPERAKTIVE BULLDOZERE OG FORTØRNEDE KROPSDELE

GAZASTRIBEN I SOLSKIN

FLAG BLIVER BRÆNDT

HVIS EN ZIONIST IKKE ANERKENDER VORES EKSISTENS

HVIS VI OVERHOVEDET EKSISTERER

NÅR VI HIKSTER ANGSTEN OG SMERTEN

NÅR VI SNAPPER EFTER VEJRET ELLER MENINGEN

I SKOLEN MÅ VI IKKE TALE ARABISK

DERHJEMME MÅ VI IKKE TALE DANSK

ET SLAG ET SKRIG ET TAL

 

  

 

 

 

12 YEARS OLD

 

WHEN LITTLE BROTHER PISSED THE BED

 

HE WAS WOKEN BY FISTS AND PUNCHES

 

ONE NIGHT HE SHOOK ME

 

BROTHER I HAVE PISSED AGAIN

 

AND HIS WORRIES BECAME MINE

 

I SNEAKED OUT TO THE TOILET

 

FOUND SOME WET WIPES

 

DRIED OFF HIS BODY

 

THEN THE WATERPROOF MATTRESS COVER

 

I PUT THE CLOTHES IN A BIG BLACK PLASTIC BAG

 

HID IT UNDER THE BED

 

WE SWITCHED DUVETS

 

MORNING CAME I PUT THE DUVET IN THE BAG

 

THREW IT OUT THE FIRST FLOOR WINDOW

 

I BRUSHED MY TEETH AND ATE ARABIC BREAD

 

DROPPED THE BAG OFF AT MOTHER’S IN NUMBER 36

 

EVEN THOUGH FATHER HAD PROMISED TO GIVE ME BLACK EYES

 

IF I EVER WENT OVER THERE

 

AFTER SCHOOL I PICKED UP THE BAG

 

THAT NO LONGER REEKED OF PISS

 

HE WAS STILL AT WORK

 

SO I HAD A SMOKE IN THE LIVING ROOM

 

AND GAZED AT THE WALL FROM AFAR

 

 

12 ÅR

NÅR LILLEBROR PISSEDE I SENGEN

BLEV HAN VÆKKET MED KNYTNÆVESLAG

EN NAT RUSKEDE HAN I MIG

BROR JEG HAR PISSET IGEN

OG SÅDAN BLEV HANS BEKYMRING MIN

JEG LISTEDE UD PÅ TOILETTET

FANDT NOGLE VÅDSERVIETTER

TØRREDE DEN FUGTIGE KROP AF

DEREFTER DET VANDTÆTTE MADRASBETRÆK

TØJET PUTTEDE JEG I EN SORT PLASTIKSÆK

SOM JEG GEMTE UNDER SENGEN

VI BYTTEDE DYNER

NÆSTE MORGEN PUTTEDE JEG DYNEN I SÆKKEN

SMED DEN UD AD VINDUET PÅ 1. SAL

JEG BØRSTEDE TÆNDER OG SPISTE ARABISK BRØD

AFLEVEREDE SÆKKEN HOS MOR I NUMMER 36

SELVOM FAR LOVEDE GULE OG BLÅ ØJNE

HVIS JEG NOGENSINDE GIK DERHEN

EFTER SKOLE HENTEDE JEG SÆKKEN

DER IKKE LÆNGERE STANK AF PIS

HAN VAR STADIG PÅ ARBEJDE

SÅ JEG RØG EN SMØG I STUEN

 

OG BETRAGTEDE VÆGGEN PÅ AFSTAND

 

PLACEMENT NUMBER SIX

 

STATELESS AND RESTLESS ON ANOTHER MAN’S SOFA

 

WITH A CHRISTMAS PRESENT IN MY LAP

 

AND VISIONS PEOPLE CAN’T SEE FROM A DISTANCE

 

YOU HAVE NEVER RECEIVED CHRISTMAS PRESENTS BEFORE

 

BUT ONE DAY YOU GET PUT

 

ONE PLACE AND THEN ANOTHER

 

YOU PRANCE AROUND THE TREE LIKE A DANE

 

GET OFFERED PORK AT EVERY MEAL

 

BUT STILL YOU HOLD ON TO YOUR BEEF

 

NEXT CHRISTMAS YOU’LL RECIEVE YOUR DANISH CITIZENSHIP PAPERS

 

SIGNED BY A SHITTY POLITICIAN

 

SO WHAT USE IS A CIRCUMCISED DICK

 

AND A PORK PROHIBITION

 

YOU DON’T KNOW

 

AND EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE STILL UNSETTLED

 

YOU CAN LOOK FORWARD TO A CHRISTMAS PRESENT

 

AND MORE PEDAGOGICAL CONTACT

 

MORE USE OF FORCE IN THE CITY OF A NOBEL LAUREATE

 

I SUPPOSE THE CITY GETS ITS MONEY’S WORTH

 

NOW YOU EAT BACON

 

AND ONLY VISIT THE MOSQUE

 

WHEN YOUR MOTHER PAYS YOU FOR IT

 

YOUR FATHER CRIES

 

AND YOUR UNCLE ONLY CALLS

 

AFTER YOU COMMIT ROBBERIES WITH HIS SON

 

YOU SEE YOUR COUSINS AT THE DRUG DEALER’S

 

OR THROUGH THE FENCE

 

FROM OPPOSITE SIDES OF A DETENTION CENTER

 

SURROUNDED BY PEDAGOGUES

 

WHO ARE REALLY BOUNCERS

 

 

 

 

 

DET SJETTE OPHOLDSSTED

STATSLØS OG RASTLØS I EN FREMMED MANDS SOFA

MED EN BLØD PAKKE I SKØDET

OG VISIONER FOLK IKKE KAN SE PÅ AFSTAND

DU HAR ALDRIG FÅET JULEGAVER FØR

MEN EN DAG BLIVER DU ANBRAGT

FØRST DET ENE STED SÅ DET ANDET

DU DANSER OM TRÆET SOM EN DANSKER

FÅR TILBUDT SVINEKØD TIL MÅLTIDERNE

MEN ER EN SMULE SKEPTISK

NÆSTE JUL MODTAGER DU ET STATSBORGERRETSBEVIS

UNDERSKREVET AF BIRTHE RØNN HORNBECH

SÅ HVAD SKAL DU LÆNGERE MED EN OMSKÅRET PIK

OG ET SVINEFORBUD

DU ANER DET IKKE

OG SELVOM DU ENDNU IKKE ER FALDET HELT TIL RO

ER DET HELLER IKKE EN UNDTAGELSE DET ÅR

DET ÅR ER DER UDSIGT TIL FLERE GAVER

OG MERE PÆDAGOGISK NÆRVÆR

I FORM AF MAGTANVENDELSER I JOHANNES V. JENSENS BY

KOMMUNEN FÅR VEL HVAD DE SKAL HAVE FOR PENGENE

DU ER BEGYNDT AT SPISE BACON

OG TAGER KUN I MOSKEEN

HVIS DIN MOR GIVER DIG PENGE FOR DET

DIN FAR GRÆDER

OG DIN ONKEL RINGER KUN

NÅR DU LAVER RØVERI MED HANS SØN

DINE FÆTRE SER DU HOS PUSHEREN

ELLER GENNEM HEGNET PÅ DJURSLAND

NÅR I SIDDER PÅ HVER JERES AFDELING

OMGIVET AF PÆDAGOGER

SOM EGENTLIG ER DØRMÆND

 

 

 

 

 

Yahya Hassan, a Danish poet and politician of Palestinian descent, was born in Aarhus in 1995. After a traumatic childhood spent in and out of foster care and juvenile detention, Hassan attended Vallekilde Folk High School and later studied at the Danish Writers Academy in Copenhagen. Hassan’s biographical, self-titled poetry collection, Yahya Hassan, was published by Gyldendal in the autumn of 2013. His criticism of Islam, and what he describes as the hypocrisy of his parents’ generation of immigrants, sparked a media frenzy in Denmark. Hassan’s debut collection sold over 100,000 copies and was awarded Politiken’s Literature Prize.

 

 

Kuku Agami was born in Hørsholm, Denmark in 1977. He is a rapper, actor, and translator whose family fled to Denmark to escape the brutal regime of Idi Amin. Agami, a member of the royal family of Lado, began rapping with the group QED in 1989. He performed on the award-winning album Covert Operations in 1993 and released his solo rap album, Closure, in 2008. Kuku Agami is a certified music instructor; he continues to tour internationally, write songs, and collaborate with other artists.

 

 

Al Agami was born in Lado in 1972. He is a rapper, actor, and translator whose family fled to Denmark to escape the brutal regime of Idi Amin. Agami, a member of the royal family of Lado, debuted with Covert Operations in 1993. His rap album earned him a Danish Music Award in 1994; he received another Danish Music Award in 1995 for his collaboration with Thomas Blachman and Remee on The Style and Invention Album. He has put down vocals on tracks by artists such as Dr. Baker, DJ Alligator, Zap Zap, Infernal, Bliss, and Ida Corr. His second solo album, Token Word, was released in 2005.

 

 

 

 

 

Vónbjørt Vang

 

 

i’m afraid of that mountain

it looks at me accusingly

and demands a poem

one of the good old kind

with end rhyme

and archaic words

one about red dawns over headland peaks

about hardy heroes

and men lost at sea

i’m so fed up

but i love you faroe you fool

i always go back to you

as to a needy lover

i just can’t seem to dump

 

 

 

 

 

eg ræðist hatta fjallið

tað hyggur ákærandi at mær

krevur eina yrking av mær

av tí góða gamla slagnum

við rími

og gomlum orðum

um roðan yvir nestindar

um sjólatnar men

og mergjaðar hetjur

eg kvalist

men eg elski teg føroyar tín rukka

eg fari altíð aftur til tín

sum til ein køvisligan elskara

eg ikki kann gera tað liðugt við

 

 

 

 

 

Vónbjørt Vang was born in 1974 and grew up in the town of Klaksvík. She earned her MA in Comparative Literature and Contemporary Cultural Studies from the University of Copenhagen in 2012. Vang is an accomplished photographer who also works as a librarian, editor and freelance critic. She is currently serving as president of the Faroese Writers Association. Her debut poetry collection, Millumlendingar (In Transit), was published in 2011. Djúpini, Vónbjørt Vang’s new collection of poems, was released by Forlagið Eksil in 2017. She moved back to the Faroe Islands in 2013 and now lives in the village of Syðrugøta on the island of Eysturoy.

 

 

 

 

 

Randi Ward is a poet, translator, lyricist, and photographer from West Virginia. She earned her MA in Cultural Studies from the University of the Faroe Islands and is a recipient of the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Nadia Christensen Prize. Ward’s work has appeared in the Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Fiction and Poetry from West Virginia, Vencil: Anthology of Contemporary Faroese LiteratureWorld Literature Today, and other publications. MadHat Press published Ward’s second full-length poetry collection, Whipstitches, in 2016. For more information, please visit randiward.com/about.

 

 

 

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