TRANSLATION – Five Poems From Fjalir (Planks) By Tóroddur Poulsen

Translation from the Faroese by Randi Ward

Collar by Toroddur Poulsen

Collar

your collar says
who you
are

but i’m not
turning my nose
up at you

i just
don’t want
to wear a collar

you’ll never
get to know
me

 

Kragin

kragin sigur
hvør tú

ert

men eg
físi ikki
eftir tær

eg vil
bara ikki
hava kraga

meg fert tú
ongantíð
at kenna

Catch

Catch

i put
a new
hook
on the line

and strum
for
the fish
that bite
notes silent

 

Fongur

seti
nýggjan

húk
á streingin

spæli
fyri
fiskinum
sum bítur á
so tónarnir tagna

Grass, by Poulsen

Grass

the grass
always grows
back but
the woman
who lay
beside me
in the grass
all those years
ago
and promised
we’d see
each other
again
does not

 

Grasið

grasið kemur
altíð aftur

men tað gjørdi
hon ikki sum
eg fyri nógvum
árum síðani
lá saman við
í grasinum og
sum aftaná
lovaði mær
at vit skuldu
síggjast aftur

Attitude, by Poulsen

Attitude

a bucket
full of
sleep
sits on
the floor
of the community
center swearing
i’m the most
uneducated
person who hasn’t
mopped the floor there

 

Støða

ein spann
full av

svøvni
stendur á
gólvinum
í bygdarhúsinum
og svørjir uppá
at eg
eri tað mest ómentaða
sum ikki hevur
vaskað gólv har inni

Salvation, by Poulsen

Salvation

the angel
got tangled
in the spider web
while trying
to help me
get free
but then
a butterfly
came along
and saved us
with some choice words
about approaching rain

 

Frelsa

eingilin
bleiv sjálvur

fastur
í lokkanetinum
tá hann
skuldi hjálpa
mær leysum
men so kom
ein firvaldur
og frelsti okkum
við nøkrum góðum orðum
um tað komandi regnið

Tóroddur Poulsen is a pioneering Faroese poet, graphic artist, and musician. He was born in Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands, in 1957. Over the course of his thirty-year career, Poulsen has published forty books and become an inimitable force in Nordic literature. His avant-garde reading style and rebellious alter ego, Garage God Tóroddsson, have long since earned him a reputation as a pugnacious punk poet. Poulsen’s work combines graphic and literary expression to generate fresh, often satirical, reflections on contemporary society and cultural norms. Katrin Ottarsdóttir’s 2008 film, A line a day must be enough!, documents the day-to-day life of Tóroddur Poulsen as well as his complicated relationship with his native archipelago.

Tóroddur Poulsen has twice received the M.A. Jacobsen Literature Award, and he was awarded the Faroe Islands’ most prestigious cultural prize, Mentanarvirðisløn Landsins, in 2012.

With Fjalir (Planks, 2013), a collection of poetry and woodcut prints, Poulsen earned the Faroese nomination for the Nordic Council Literature Prize in 2014. An English translation of Fjalir is forthcoming from Forlagið í Støplum in the autumn of 2014.

Randi Ward is a writer, translator, lyricist, and photographer from West Virginia. She earned her MA in Cultural Studies from the University of the Faroe Islands and is a recipient of The American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Nadia Christensen Prize. Ward is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee whose work has appeared in AsymptoteBeloit Poetry JournalCimarron ReviewWorld Literature TodayAnthology of Appalachian WritersVencil: Anthology of Contemporary Faroese Literature, and other publications. For more information, visit: www.randiward.com/about

The poems “Collar,” “Grass,” and “Catch” were first published by Scandinavian Review.

The poems “Salvation” and “Attitude” originally appeared in Fjords Review.

The woodcut images are reproduced courtesy of the publisher, Forlagið í Støplum.

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