Starting from Everyday Details

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Interview 

 

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

Hege Woxen:  My poetry usually start in the small details of everyday life or in something I read in a book; something that happened this morning, something a child said, some line of poetry I read, or some thought from a writer or philosopher. Then this small detail might form a larger thought or situation in the poem. What I often try to do, is to blend these details with the larger, more existentialist questions of life and death and time passing.

 

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

Hege Woxen:  I think the world is most visible in my poetry as the place I live in, a small community on the West Coast of Norway, a place which is not originally my own, I moved here 15 years ago. In a peaceful country as Norway, it is not a very dramatic thing to move to a new place, making a home there, but it still has meant something for me as a writer, living in a place which is not really my own, and writing in this in between place, of belonging because my children belong here, but then still not really belonging.

 

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

Hege Woxen:  Some of the poets which have inspired my own writing, are poets doing what I also try to do in my writing; writing poems seemingly unpretentious in themes and pictures, but then still with the more existentialist themes on and between the lines; some of them are the Norwegian writer Olav H. Hauge, the Polish writer Wisława Szymborska, and the old Chinese poets such as T’ao Ch’ien and Po Chü-i, living and writing hundreds of years ago, but still seeming to live and write in a way I recognise, at least they do so in the translations I read by the American poet and translator David Hinton.

 

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

Hege Woxen: I think they are very important, because if my life and world had been different, I think I would have written other poems. I also think all good poetry is written because every poet is writing exactly the poetry he or she must write in the life they are living; we cannot just choose to be another kind of writer than the one we are.

 

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

Hege Woxen: I try to find the rhythm and the music of every poem when I write it; there are no rules for the poem before it is written, the rules of every poem is only visible after the poem is written. What I try to do, is writing short poems, saying as much as possible in as few lines as possible.

 

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

Hege Woxen:  My own poetry is not explicitly political, but this I guess is a result of living in a peaceful, democratic country, and beeing free to live and write about what I myself choose as the important things in life; the books I read, my children, my garden, the mountains  surrounding my house, and the fiord outside my windows. But then my life, and writing, is based on earlier generations political fights for freedom and women’s rights.

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

Hege Woxen: I hope it will, because I think some of the things I write about are among the essence of many people’s lives and wishes; having a home where one can be safe, a family and children, and a work that makes you feel alive and happy, to me that means having time and space for reading and writing.

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Poems ( På Norsk) 

 

 

1

Jeg slår røtter

gjennom barna mine

omvendt

hører jeg også til

her hvor de hører til.

Avstanden

fra de andre stedene jeg har bodd

er et mellomrom

å skrive i

et pusterom

å være alene i.

Røttene graver seg ned, og brer seg utover

år for år

blir det vanskeligere

å grave dem opp igjen.

(From Krigeren på fanget)

 

2

Jeg ser deg i det ene barnet

meg selv i det andre

når den eldste fryder seg blant folk

snakker, ler, blir kjent med alle

og den yngste vender seg bort, vil hjem

er på sitt fineste

når ingen ser.

(From Krigeren på fanget)

 

3

Åtte år

og full av sorg

over at de hun er glad i

en dag skal dø.

Jeg har ingen trøst

kan bare sitte ved siden av

klappe et kinn

være her akkurat nå.

(From Krigeren på fanget)

 

4

Fire voksne og fire barn

i et sommerhus

barna samler seg i sofaen i stuen

de voksne sprer seg utover

i hver sin ytterkant.

Jeg sitter på benken mot nord

med bok og kaffekopp

og prøver å føle meg alene.

Barna holder seg fast i fellesskapet

midt inne i huset

når de blir større skal de også slynges utover

i hver sin ensomhet

men ikke ennå.

(From Alle mine levende)

 

5

I tjueårene var jeg én

så ble vi to, tre og fire.

Jeg ønsker meg alltid

noen timer alene

men aldri tilbake til

alle de timene.

 

Dere tre er en helg på støylen

jeg er hjemme og øver

på den store ensomheten

som alltid fins

som en mulighet, umulighet

og kan bli min igjen.

(From Alle mine levende)

 

6

Det er færre sauer på bøene

enn for en uke siden

slaktebilen har vært på gårdene

og reist igjen.

 

Jeg leser Marcus Aurelius

han ville sagt at det er det samme

om du lever et halvt eller åtti år

men jeg vet ikke helt.

 

For noen generasjoner siden

hadde de voksne barn når de var førti

og hadde ennå ikke fått de yngste

så mange fødsler og så mye arbeid.

 

Tiden forskyver seg, et halvt år, førti, åtti

uansett hvor kloke filosofene er

når de skriver om døden

vil jeg helst leve.

(From Alle mine levende)

 

7

Jeg reiste for å høre til et sted

der andre levde livet sitt

ikke for eventyrets skyld

bare en hverdag byttet ut med en annen.

 

Jeg har mistet den jeg var

som ville ut i verden, møte mennesker

men jeg har fått det jeg reiste for

en hverdag som ikke kan byttes ut.

 

Om noen år er det vi som skal byttes ut

når barna vil bort herfra

for å finne et annet liv, og andre mennesker

vi aldri skal møte.

(From Alle mine levende)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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