Archive for August 30th, 2016

Danish poet Ulrikka Gernes: bringing light to darkness

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016
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(Photo: Christoffer Regild)

One of the more radiant presences at this year’s Sigtuna Literary Festival in Sweden was Ulrikka Gernes, one of Denmark’s leading poets. Ulrikka, daughter of the international artist Poul Gernes, published her first collection at eighteen, and has followed with ten more collections in the years since since. As far as radiance goes, you can judge for yourself by the photo at right. (She was wearing the same trademark pearls last week.)

The Copenhagen poet is also generous. I attended the Sunday morning panel on “Border Crossings in Language.” She shared the conversation with Oslo poet Håkan Sandell; it was moderated by Swedish writer and journalist Maria Küchen. I didn’t understand a word, of course – it was all in Swedish. Ulrikka ended the session with a shout-out to Humble Moi, and read the poem below – mercifully, in English.

It’s from her most recent collection Frayed Opus for Strings & Wind Instruments (Brick Books, 2015), translated from the Danish by Per Brask and Patrick Friesen:

.

On the table in the room in the dark

On the table in the room in the dark
house lies the book you didn’t know
you were looking for, opened to the page
with the poem about solace you didn’t know
you needed; at first the letters
then the words, little by little
the lines disappear as you read them
in the light of the faint dawn that trickles in
between the venetians’ dusty
slats and unites you with someone
you didn’t know you are.