Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Meet the EUIOA collaborators: Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl

With Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl I created the Frislandic poems of Hróbjartur Ríkeyjarson af Dvala for Twitters for a Lark: Poetry of the European Union of Imaginary Authors.  

Hróbjartur Ríkeyjarson af Dvala was born on Dvali, a small island (called Duilo on some maps) offshore of the larger island of Frisland in 1948. As a child he was deeply steeped in the folklore of Frisland, but after education at the University of Godmec in Historical Cartography, in 1976 he founded the Black Volcano Poets who abandoned the complex (and frankly inexplicable) metrics of traditional Frislandic verse in favour of open field metres and post-surrealist content, with an American Beat tinge. An accomplished jazz vocalist, he spent a year at Berklee School of Jazz in 1978, but dropped out to concentrate on writing poetry and experimenting with hallucinogens. He taught at various universities in the US and, after a time as Visiting Writer at Argleton University in North West England, he returned to Frisland, just in time to become principal spokesman for the Ashen Revolution of 2002, which dragged Frisland into the twentieth century. Ríkeyjarson af Dvala was elected to parliament, the Lagadag, representing Ocibar, where he is a passionate advocate of Frisland’s (apparently hopeless) candidacy for membership of the European Union. The poem here was composed just after he left Berklee.

Frisland you ask? Well, I’d already written the ‘Robert Sheppard’ poem that appears in the anthology, which is about Ern Malley (and his hoax), appropriate as we approach Liverpool-born Ern's centenary, and the last lines are:

shoulders a volcanic island
erupting into fictive cartography

as fresh as the isle of Frisland
its cities of Ocibar and Godmec

his panama tilts into a sun disk
or twitters for a lark
which, of course, lend their words to the title of the volume. Eirikur, who I met in Bangor, where I’d appeared as Rene Van Valckenborch, was interested in fictional poems – and when he suggested we forget the EU and deal with the mythical islands that appear (just below his native Iceland on Renaissance maps) I jumped at it. We wrote both an ancient poem

‘Joyful are boars when the swill is filled, and eager their eating.
Quarrelsome are bears, as Beserkers when fearsome in the field,
Once dairymen approach…’. etc

and the modern poem of Ríkeyjarson af Dvala.

Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl is an Icelandic poet and novelist. For his novel Illska (Evil, 2012) he was awarded The Icelandic Literary Prize and The Book Merchant’s Prize, as well as being nominated for the Nordic Council’s Literary Award. In 2012 he was poet-in-residence at the Library of Water in Stykkishólmur, in 2013 he was chosen artist of the year in Ísafjörður and in 2014 he was writer-in-residence at Villa Martinson in Sweden. Since his debut in 2002 he has published six books of poems, most recently Hnefi eða vitstola orð (Fist or words bereft of sense, 2013) and two collections of essays. Eiríkur is active in sound and performance poetry, visual poetry, poetry film and various conceptual poetry projects. Eiríkur has translated over a dozen books into Icelandic, including a selection of Allen Ginsberg’s poetry. He lives in Ísafjörður, Iceland, a rock in the middle of the ocean, and spends much of his time in Västerås, Sweden, a town by a lake.

He appeared on videotape at the August 2017 EUOIA Night in Manchester (he’d read the month before at The Other Room)

  All the collaborators are introduced at links available here.

Read more about the European Union of Imaginary Authors here and here

More on Twitters for a Lark here and here. See also A Translated Man which collects the Van Valckenborch poems ( an early account here; the book is also available from Shearsman here.)