November 30, 2008

Susanne Jorn


Susanne Jorn [Denmark]
1944

Susanne Jorn was born in Denmark in 1944. For several years she lived in France before graduating from Københavns Universitet with an M.A. in sinology. In 1971 she settled for a time in the United States, receiving her MA in American literature at Connecticut College and her PhD. at the University of Massachusetts.

Her first poetry collection, Splinterne (Splinters), was published in 1970 when she was studying in Japan for two years on a Mombusho scholarship. Since that publication she has gone on to publish several other volumes of poetry, as well as plays, essays and translations.

Influenced by members of the Cobra group, many of her collections are collaborations with painters such as Carl-Henning Pedersen, Pierre Alechinsky and her own father, the noted Danish artist Asgar Jorn (a member of the Cobra Group and a founding member of the Situationist International). She has also collaborated with the reknowned Japanese painter Yasse Tauchi. Her work has been further influenced by her studies in sinology and her many years living in Japan. Jorn integrates elements of the landscape from Chinese and Japanese into her work, and she was translated many poetry collections from those languages, including books by Yang Lian and Shuntaro Tanikawa. With John Caviglia, she also translated the poetry of the Peruvian poet, Cesar Vallejo.

Since 2000, when she returned from the US and Japan, Jorn has been living in Copenhagen.

BOOKS OF POETRY:

Splinterne (Copenhagen: Permild & Rosengreen,1970); Løsrivelser (Copenhagen: Selandia, 1972); Epigrammer (Copenhagen, 1977); Fiskeørn (Århus: Jorinde & Joringel, 1985); Det flydende liv (Copenhagen: Fremad, 1985); Sindbilleder (Copenhagen: Tiderne Skifter, 1986); Drømmehænder (Copenhagen: Per Kofod, 1991); Clairvoyant (Copenhagen: Per Kofod, 1994); To (Copenhagen: Politisk Revy, 1998); Nimbi (Copenhagen and New York: Politisk Revy and Spuyten Duyvil, 2001); Passionscyklus [with Hajime Kijima] (Odense: Adressens Forlag, 2004); Kokoro (Århus: Bogan, 2005)


ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRANSLATIONS

Tracks in the Sand [in Japanese and English] (Reykjavik: Sigurjon Olafsson Museum, 1994); Nimbi [with Danish and English] (Copenhagen and New York: Politisk Revy and Spuyten Duyvil, 2001)




BrookSong


slipping slipping narrow
swirling bubbling warm
running leaping broad
yielding giving
raging rolling
yearning seducing
senses' senses' song,
chuckling

—Translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied

(from Det flydende liv, 1985)


Little Trickling Stream

Imagine
being transformed
from block of ice to stream.

Imagine
being able to sing
and be heard
underground.

Imagine
being able to make your way
so beautifully
everywhere.

—Translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied

(from De flydende liv, 1985)




Psychic Material

In secret I worship
a rough statue of
weakness.

By feeling carefully
I touch the edge of
a tender spot
always present
in a hidden fragility.

—Translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied

(from Sindbilleder, 1986)



At the Beach

As the black headed gulls
hover aloft
in the gale
my snail-self
inches
slowly forward bowed
against the wind
in the tideline's roiling ellipses.

This is how I know
all is in the most beautiful order:
when I walk backward
and bring everything along.

Translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied

(from Sindbilleder, 1986)




Polkadot Poem


As long as I'm the glow of morning
everything moves in spasms, thickly.

I'm made of radiant dots.
My body can't be drawn.


—Translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied

(from Sindbilleder, 1986)



Goldself


Though everything
is in flux
I'm gathered
at last
into a gold circle.

—Translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied

(from Sindbilleder, 1986)


Misunderstood Romance

Within the frame of society
lies a Polar Sea.

I thought
we were floating
with royal blue currents
on a porcelain smooth
iceberg sculpture
united in solidarity.

I rock and swing wildly here
on my unconquerable ice floe
because I have a strange accent and power:
I see pictures too clear in thin air.
Disgust.

—Translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied

(from Sindbilleder, 1986)


Winter Precision

The frost sun's
frail pastel light
lies secure
inside a fresh milk white
crystal circle.

A protective
steel gray mask
is ringed with
a sharp yellow white edge
so the sun can
keep up with time
and hit it precisely.

The pale winter sun
will not freeze in place at all,
nor let the frost mask drop
nor lose it
at the same time.

There is just enough winter light now.
Multicolored, fine sunshine
to fit over Copenhagen's morning stiffness.

—Translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied

(from Sindbilleder, 1986)


Marks of Spring

High up in the blue air
a male cardinal writes
challenging bright red marks.

Way up at the top
of a stark naked tree
he alights
at the
very
highest point

period.

—Translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied

(from Sindbilleder, 1986)



Montage

I came home
that night in a golden chariot
drawn by twelve white horses
I wore a queen's crown inlaid with sapphires and rubies
a white silk dress and diamond shoes.

In the night, the sea colored, I had
a split silvern mermaid tail beneath the sea blue
in waves' crests and
in foam.

Memories of that gold edged night.
Untouchable memories framed under glass.

Nails of gold.

—Translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied

(from Sindbilleder, 1986)



Luckily/Unluckily

There are moments
like shoes too small.

There are eternal nights,
nights
like a long long dress
of glistening fire opals.

—Translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied

(from Sindbilleder, 1986)



Expectations


Happiness
vanishes
insanely
fast,
faster
than time.

Happiness
comes back
on its own.

Not until later
is it sensed.

—Translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied

(from Drømmehænder, 1991)




First

Dreamhands
Dreamfingers
Palms'
Clumsy
Sensitivity


—Translated from the Danish by Susanne Jorn

(from Drømmehænder, 1991)





Black


Fire eyes gleam
in darkness

Creatures creep around
in dream's cold nightmare

Even hands dream

—Translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied

(from Drømmehænder, 1991)




Self

I go around
and look for
clear moments
when everything falls into place

Moments
when my new body
and soul take form

I go around
and suddenly
recognize
myself
in a painting by Edvard Munch

This is how I go
round and round
and find myself

—Translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied

(from Drommehænder, 1991)



Leaping/Longing


I want to hear different weekday sounds
See waving palm trees, sharp light on oceans
wildly foreign towns
bleeding ghettos
inward faces
closed doors

As Eternal Wanderer I want
to walk around in endless concrete labyrinths
past black figures on curbs
sense mankind

Job, family,
corruption and wanderlust
will be replaced by
another wellbeing
another being

— Translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied

(from Drømmehænder, 1991)





Modus Vivendi


I go underground
become invisible
turn up again
somewhere else
with only
dreamhands intact

My daring architecture
survives
breathes

—Translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied

(from Drømmehænder, 1991)




Hardy

With an eye on each dreamfinger
I draw life
so it sings
in all styles
in the air
in the earth

—Translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied

(from Drommehænder, 1991)




Growing Season

It's greening up
with quivering ocean blue
weather everywhere

It's greening up
new sounds
throbbing pulses
sudden reconciliations

It's greening up
with a triangle of milk white swans
wingbeat after wingbeat
past past

It's greening up
with more and more Nordic light
over everything

It's greening up
with me algae green
and fuzzy inside
as feelings sprout in my body

It's greening up
with highs from mouth to mouth
Hidden picture upon hidden picture
turns up
on the very wildest forest floors
of my senses

It's greening up
but they don't pick me up:
I go home
and see a parabola
in the grass

Misty drizzle
Fine light rain

—Translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied

(from Drommehænder, 1991)






The Last Goodbye


Nordic summer it was
We sat in the lee of the west wind
waiting for the bus
you and I
Sharp slantlight and
reflection from the sea
High skyblue sky and
cotton white mackerel clouds
"The weather's always good in Løkken"
you said back then
even if it was storming
west wind howling outside the house
sand flying
and rain whipping the windowpanes
You were tough and managed—yourself

The North Sea was the ocean in your mind
blue, blue, and blue
proud and great
sea green / kelp brown / foam white
You were tough and managed—yourself

As a very little child
I learned from you
to look forward to things big and small
To my birthday
to vacations in Løkken
When we got off the bus
and it drove away
you always took a deep-deep breath
opened your eyes wide
your face beaming with contentment
"Can you smell that fresh air, kids?"
you said back then
You were tough and managed—yourself

I took a deep breath too
and got an enchanting sensation
all over
That was how you could show
your unique mother and grandmother love
To know how to learn was your motto
"That's no minor detail"
you said back then
You were tough and managed—yourself

Once in a while I remember
sunsets over the North Sea
with you
Sky with fiery patches
Sky of gold
Draped in purple
Painted silver gray
Sea fog chill in twilight
Sea fog icy swirls from the sea
We walked along the beach
Barely spoke to each other
Just a bit
The vast silence between us
echoed the sunset back then
You were tough and managed—yourself

In the silence/the solitude
in isolation and loneliness
you found your way to
a superterrestrial harmony
that only you understood
with your superhuman dignity
in your piece of life—back then
You were tough and managed—yourself

Moody clouds
Winterdark
Far too dark
The last goodbye
memories/loss
You were tough
You were

—Translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied

(from Løkken Folkeblad, 1995)



PERMISSIONS

“BrookSong” and “Little Trickling Stream”
Translated from Det flydende liv (Copenhagen: Fremad, 1985). English language translation copyright ©2006 by Susanna Nied. Reprinted by permission of Fremad.

“Psychic Material,” “At the Beach,” “Polkadot Poem,” “Goldself,” “Misunderstood Romance,”
“Winter Precision,” “Marks of Spring,” “Montage,” and “Luckily/Unluckily”
Translated from Sindbilleder (Copenhagen: Tiderne Skifter, 1986). English language translation copyright
©2006 by Susanna Nied. Reprinted by permission of Tiderne Skifter.

“Expectations,” “First,” “Black,” “Self,” “Leaping/Longing,” “Modus Vivendi,” “Hardy,” and “Growing Season”
Translated from Drømmehænder (Copenhagen: Per Kofod, 1991). English language translation copyright
©2006 by Susanna Nied. Reprinted by permission of Per Kofod.

“The Last Goodbye”
Translated from Løkken Folkeblad, 1995. English language translation copyright ©2006 by Susanna Nied.

1 comment:

Antoine Cassar said...

Hello,

I came to the PIP blog in search of information on the poet George Makris, and happily, I chanced upon this post on Susanne Jorn. I met her at the Copenhagen Poetry Festival a couple of months ago, where we took part in a multilingual reading. She doesn't read very well, but her poetry contains many striking images.

Thanks for the initiative - it's not easy to find a site bringing together and profiling a wide number of contemporary world poets. Looks like I'll be visting often.

Kind regards,

Antoine Cassar
http://muzajk.info