Experiences Make You Less Abstract

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Shuddhashar: What is it that you strive to explore and convey through your poetry? 

Erling Kittelsen: I want to write about different lacks or deficits in society. These can be expressed in the language, or in the way of thinking, or in the content itself.


Shuddhashar: How do you interpret the present world, and how have current events spurred you to write? 

Erling Kittelsen: This time can be ready for something from the past, for new meanings to come up.


Shuddhashar: What literary pieces – poetry, fiction or non-fiction – and writers have informed and inspired your own writing? How have they done so?

Erling Kittelsen: The old Icelandic literature.


Shuddhashar: In what way do your personal identity and experiences shape your poetry? 

Erling Kittelsen: Your experiences make you less abstract.


Shuddhashar: How do you use structure, language and grammar to accentuate the message of your poetry? Do you subscribe to conventions or break them?

Erling Kittelsen: I have often to break the conventions. My question is, how to find the lack?


Shuddhashar: What is your opinion about the conflicts and solidarities between political poetry and the literary and artistic values of poetry?

Erling Kittelsen: These are two points of views: the one has to follow or have a dialog with the other.


Shuddhashar: Does your poetry transcend national boundaries? Does it appeal to different nationalities or linguistic groups? 

Erling Kittelsen: If you write about a taboo in your country, it is often easier for people in another country to understand.







If I’m blasted into the air

then I’m blasted into the air

and the air catches me,

tomorrow I am rain.

If I’m sunk into the sea

then I’m sunk into the sea

and the depths catch me,

tomorrow I am food.

If I’m put behind bars

then I’m put behind bars

and the walls catch me,

tomorrow I am signs.

If I blast open the door

then I blast open the door

and you catches me,

tomorrow I am more.



I’m running along a branch

that only the earth can see,

and because it is seen,

I am running along it.

I’m climbing up a rope

that only the mast-top can see,

and because it is seen,

I am climbing up it.

I’m balancing on an edge

that only you can see,

and because it is seen,

I am balancing on it.



For an instant mild sun

in the main street, wind

icy-sharp in his back,

Tiu hardly has time,

steps humming past,

time we must put up with,

time is a lance, a ray

through which to fly,

let himself be hoisted on a sky-string

and travel at helicopter speed to

Manitsoq, Sugar Top



But it was lovely, so lovely,

lovingly painful to part ways

lovingly bright to meet you

lovingly mournful to play

the skin organ again,

had become almost used to everything,

amuse oneself sleepily with jazz,

drowsily enjoy, wake up

at morning café Cockcrow.



Had expected inner guidance

or a political strategy,

was left with the void

and his tenth slim letter;

what don’t we have time for?

time, my friend, Miiro said,

you know the places inside-out,

but shove time into the earth

or call it spiritual, above,

fail to give it intervening space



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