May 5, 2023

Niels Frank (Denmark) 1968

Niels Frank (Denmark)



Born on February 25, 1963 in Brædstrup, Denmark, Frank received his education from Aarhus University, and at the age of 22 broke upon the literary scene with his collection of minimalist poetry, Øjeblikket (The Instant, 1985).

     The following year he published a second volume, Digte I kim (Poems in Embryo). With his third collection, Genfortryllelsen (1988), influenced in part by his translation of John Ashbery, Frank’s text grew longer and his sense of irony increased. Frank received a three year stipend from the Danish Arts Foundation. Since that time, he has also been involved with the famed Copenhagen School of Creative Writing (Forfatterskolen), acting as director from 1996-2001.

     In 1996 he published Tabernakel (Tabernacle), in which his poems shifted to a mediatation about poetry’s purpose and function. The work mixed various forms of voices, breaking down metaphors and alternating in tone. As Frank has written: “All metaphor is a breakdown in thought. Metaphor pollutes thought, blends it with its opposite and thus makes it unthinkable. In metaphor there is a conflict between two worlds or two-word pictures that compete with each other, they destroy each other, so that from the destruction a third element may grow, constituting an elevation of them both.”

     Frank edited the journal Limbo from 1984-1987 and was editor of Den Blå Port from 1990 to 1993. He has written a prose book, Livet I troperne (Life in the Tropics, 1998), a book of essays on the Yucatán and another titled Metaphorisms.

     Frank won the Otto Gelsted Prize in 1999, the George Brandes prize an essay collection in 2007, and the Kriterpriset for his novel, Nellie's Book in 2013.

    In 2015 he published Tristhedens historie (The History of Sadness) a collection of ten portraits of various characters who share the experience of lost hopes and unfulfilled dreams. Vulkaner på månen (Volcanoes on the Moon), a collection of stories about various cities around the world, came out in 2018.

     As a commentator of the Nordic Council Literature Prize wrote, concerning the nomination of his 2022 book, Fanden tage dig:


"In 2021, Danish writer Neils Frank experienced the worst nightmare of his life: his older sister Elin was shot at close range by her ex-husband with a sawn-off shotgun. The murder took place on the day of the division of property after divorce, when Elin, together with her sons from the marriage, planned to collect her things.

     The terrible incident not only change Niels Frank as a person, but also as a writer. Frank himself writes the book was 'written on the spot' and that the text is a 'place in hell.' But then, as the notes begin to take the form of a book, it also becomes a 'place of shelter.' With his writing, Frank simply shields himself from the brutal events, while deciding that no art should be created from Elin's death. The trauma characterises the style, which is repetitive, but a repetition in which Frank tries to regain control over life."




Øjeblikket (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1985); Digte i kim (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1986); Genfortryllensen (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1988); Tabernakel (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1996); Små guder (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 2008)





Picture World, translated by Richard Greenwald (Toronto: BookThug, 2011)


Go here for a poem in Danish and English:

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