Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Norwegian Poetry

I'm researching Norwegian poetry with a view to finding some books that might help me learn a little Norwegian and also broaden my knowledge of Norwegian literarture and culture.

So far I have discovered three major Norwegian poets of the 20th Century:

Tarjei Vesaas came from the Telemark region in the South of Norway. He was both novelist and poet who wrote in Nynorsk (New Norwegian). During the Second World War, he hid his manuscripts by burying them. He lived from 1897-1970. A book of translated selected poems called "Through Naked Branches" was published in 2000.

Olav H. Hauge came from the Hardanger area of Western Norway and wrote mainly poetry and a long diary discovered after he had died. He lived from 1908-1994, making his living from gardening and working on his fruit farm. His "Selected Poems" in translation was published in 1990.

Rolf Jacobsen was born in Oslo. His poetic debut in 1933 marked the first modernist poetry in Norwegian. He was convicted of treason after the war and sentenced to hard labour for writing newspaper editorials that supported the Germans who had invaded Norway. A central theme in his work is the balance between nature and technology. His translated selected poems called "Night Open" was published in 1993.

These three appear to be the most widely translated poets. Younger poets such as Eldrid Lunden (b. 1940) and Paal-Helg Haugen (b. 1945) do not yet seem to have published translated editions in English.

I've also discovered Norvik Press which specialises in publishing Scandinavian literature including a book of "Contemporary Norwegian Women's Writing".

There is also a very recent book called Voices from the North: New Writing from Norway which has been published by Maia Press to celebrate Stavanger's status as a "European Capital of Culture" in 2008.

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