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Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Celebrate Sweden’s National Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet Kasja Bergstrom (plus full bibliography and a new poem)

Yesterday was the Danish day. (See here.) Today celebrate Sweden’s National Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet Kasja Bergstrom, who was co-created by myself and SJ Fowler.

See here for more on Kasja (more than appears in Twitters) and here for more on SJ Fowler. We (actually it was Steve) concocted a longer biography than was finally published, so it seems the appropriate day to present that AND another of our works by Bergstrom that I had to omit from Twitters on length grounds. It follows on from the last sentences of the biography well:

Kajsa Bergstrom is one of the finest of modern, modest Northern European poets. Born into a gentrified family in 1956, in Ornskoldsvik, she is one of the last to follow the ecstatic revolution in Scandinavian literature, after the likes of Ibsen, Hamsun, Garborg and Strindberg, and on then from Ekelöf, Martinson, Tranströmer. The outpouring of reflective, burdened personal emotion, of self-analysis, of the destructive power of civilised discourse, marks out the early poetry, as though she were living the works of those who had come before her. Bergstrom is indelibly marked by her father’s death while she was a child. Her mother, a member of the petty nobility, still retained the Bergmanesque protestant hardness of her forebears, and seems to have been indifferent to her daughter and, as had happened with Schopenhauer, this emotional isolation surrounded by wealth produced a superlative gift for the imagination for the young poet. Like Schopenhauer too, this became directed toward the Oriental, the Eastern mode, in her turning away from Christianity and European parochialism.

After brief periods studying in London and Uppsala, Bergstrom became a student of music in Paris and became familiar with the work of the Tel Quel group. She forever maintained their influence on her was limited. Her first collection Flak (1977) was not received with any particular fanfare. She described its writing as suicidal, a process of poetry amidst emotional upheaval, and indeed her use of cryptic linguistic constructions, etymological tracings, repetitions, seems to hark to the best of European experimental movements and yet, almost by design, seem utterly impersonal, impenetrable to the reader.

As her work transformed, she returned to Stockholm, and her esoteric embracing of the poetic medium began to become tempered by more direct images in the text work that appeared to be increasingly offset by the remarkable use of typography, as though she were literally breaking apart the limitations of the Swedish language to express direct thoughts and images. The high experimentation left its trace in her use of materials and the ever present relentlessness of her images. By the time of Songbook (1996) and Noli Me Tangere (2005), when she had moved to Malmø, her oscillation between obtuse mysticism and deeply personal intellectualism had won her great acclaim.

from Noli Me Tangere


I     Manuskriptet

a write
             on her thought
       a flesh-filled  boka
                blue if we think differently and look
        taught then             one of them whistles they aren’t
essential seats are not guaranteed she sits on
        the bus and thinks her eye rests where she nests

lost grass as uniform as baize and three
     Jämthunds scrabble and bolt and the Asian horde
hunched with hair        thinks about our boka

           writing looking at her lips soft continually but her eyes are the softened
inviting him so horst        scarred up coiled
             towards them trained and savage in a film
       on her farm which seems neither mobile nor dark
                        she imagines writing            thinks there’s nothing
                      in rolls then the rolls are equal
                            measures you turn to notice and pray

           her hard drive next to her she imagines writing sorg
                     of this later she’ll say or write uncoiled
      and cut into neat squares to concentrate upon
                    crossing the road or covering the last vacant
feat of the journey

II   träsk

  Water and sand pillowing her advance past
                  its return in a way she’s returned and sold in multiples
             by the square you’re not sure which version
           of events in Master Johansgatan   a silent restaurant of sand
s          hut words past language into  
            with studium fat laws elsewhere today a pheasant                you
              prefer one
then tw
o the
n fou
r the
n unl
it clu
bs the a
ir fresh e
your interiority the woman in the suit processionally
                   detailed sunlight hops across the temporary
sward four rats swim the algae nod towards t          he

III            Imperium

staggering ove
r to th
e sleepi
ng vagrant
wrapped in
fallen gold Harolden le
aves putting at the corner
they scuttle across the short g
rass but nothing impresses more
talk more get up you and sa
ndy buildings
redden though
walking alone
Hyllie Boulevard which has er
upted from below
the surface of the day da
mp cobbles dipping in
to countries  

Read more about the European Union of Imaginary Authors here and here. All the collaborators are accessible via links here.

Accompanied by biographical notes, the poets grow in vividness until they seem to possess lives of their own; they are collected now in Twitters for a Lark, published by Shearsman.   

More on Twitters here and here

This collection marks a continuation of the work I ventriloquised through my solo creation, the fictional bilingual Belgian poet René Van Valckenborch, in A Translated Man (read an early account here; the book is also available from Shearsman here ).

I see these two books as the first two parts of a fictional poetry trilogy. I have posited a possible continuing fiction here, but I am unsure which way this will go now.I talked about that yesterday too, on the Danish post.

SJ Fowler at the centre of the Manchester European Poets reading, with some EUOIA collaborators there too: Patricia Farrell, Scott Thurston, Tom Jenks - and me
The EUOIA Other Room reading from last August is now available here. SJ Fowler appeared by video-link from Norwich, Europe.