Nuori Voima 1/2010, Runous 2009

Årets første nummer af det finske poesitidsskrift Nuori Voima, er et temanummer om sidste års poesi. Jeg blev bedt om at skrive et postkort fra Danmark – jeg skrev det på (en slags) engelsk, i den trykte udgave af tidsskriftet kan man læse det på finsk. Her kan man læse underteksten, hvis man vil:

From: Denmark
To: Nuori Voima

//Martin Glaz Serup

When I was asked to write a short piece for Nouri Voima about some “poetry-related topic that has been discussed in Danish newspapers/poetry magazines”, I thought I would write about the new, emerging decade. The new poetry, the new writers. The Danish newspaper Information published in January nine brand new manifestos written by writers belonging to very different corners of the literary scene; the new decade was exactly the topic, what will the literature bring in the next ten years was the question. Very different things, it seemed according to the writers, but what many of the manifestos had in common was an emphasis on ethics; the ethics of writing, of what you write how, that seem to be something on the mind of the writers. But what does it entail, exactly? I was anticipating some kind of reaction or debate to begin, and so was the paper which published the manifestos, I’m sure, but not much happened. Well. Not much to write about for Nuori Voima. Then maybe I could tell a bit about recent developments in the institutions embracing Danish poetry, I thought; it has definitely become harder to publish poetry in Denmark after the middle-sized publishing house Borgen had to sack most of its employees and writers two years ago. Borgen had a proud tradition for publishing poetry and developing talents, not only did they publish the oldest Danish poetry magazine Hvedekorn, but some years they also published far more titles of poetry than the biggest publishing house in Denmark did; Gyldendal who, by the way, do publish poetry. Then it all crashed; fortunately the publishing house Rosinante took on to continue publishing Hvedekorn – which is were you have your official debut (if not in a book) as a poet in Denmark – and a lot of writers suddenly had to look for a new home. If they were looking for a big overground publishing house publishing what would be termed as literary quality (which is not necessarily commercial) Gyldendal is actually now the only choice left. And they can’t and won’t publish everything. So it’s – let’s call it – exiting to see what’s going to happen now. I think we’re getting closer to how it is in America, with a non-commercial scene for experimenting writing and poetry still more secluded from the mainstream literature, media and public life. Closed circles. It’s not like that yet, not here. In Denmark poetry is actually given a lot of attention in papers et cetera, still, there’re many readings and many people go to readings and even though it’s far from every bookshop that even has poetry on their shelves and even though poetry generally is not selling very well (more than 150 sold copies, I think, would be to do pretty okay for a collection of poetry here); despite all that, there’s still some younger, ‘experimenting’ poets who’s actually selling enough books to have them come in several printings; poets like Ursula Andkjær Olsen, Mette Moestrup and Lone Hørslev. And two of the latest literary prizes, as I write this, was awarded poets; The Critics Prize to Eske K. Mathiesen and The Montana Prize to Lars Skinnebach. So poetry is still holding a somewhat prominent role in the literary scene of Denmark, at least compared to many other countries. Excerpts of Olsen, Moestrup and Skinnebach is by the way translated into both Finnish and Swedish in the anthologies Tämä ei ole fiktiota/Detta är inte fiktion published by Teos/Söderströms in 2007. A Norwegian writer I talked to recently told me how he couldn’t get his latest manuscript accepted in Norway – it’s maybe ten years ago he published a book and he has been working on the new one for several. He had tried different publishing houses. They all liked his book he was told, but they wouldn’t or couldn’t publish it. Why? He couldn’t get a satisfying answer. Off the record a literary agent told him that – generally speaking – the publishinghouses now only wanted to publish Superstars or Bestsellers or young writers who they hoped to turn into both. That leaves a lot of good writers who are neither in a gap. That might be the way it’s going in Denmark as well. Personally I know about a Danish poet who has recieved and been nominated to many prestigious prizes and honors for his work, and whenever he’s publishing a book, the reviews always make sure to write that this is one of the greatest poets we got – recently he experienced similiar problems as my Norwegian friend. In America much of the poetry scene is situated around university presses and small independent environments and presses, still we don’t have that situation, but the strengthened small press-profiles we have seen emerge in Denmark during the last couple of years – with independent, no-profit publishing, very often done by other writers, with labels like Basilisk, Anblik, Arena and After Hand – might signal some kind of preparation for a bigger change in the climate of the Danish poetryscene.

Martin Glaz Serup (born 1978) is a Danish writer and critic, author of several children’s books and collections of poetry. Latest the longpoem Trafikken er uvirkelig (The Traffic is Unreal) from 2007 – excerpts of his poetry exists in Finnish and Swedish in the anthologies Tämä ei ole fiktiota/Detta är inte fiktion (edited by Oscar Rossi and Tiia Strandén). Later this year a complete Swedish translation (done by Stewe Claeson) is published in Finland on Ntamo under the title Trafiken är overklig.