It’s been a great pleasure to finally have physical copies of Lene Henningsen’s Atomar and Weiss-Manettis forudsigelse in my hands. The Weiss-Manetti Prediction, my translation of the novel, is now also available via Maggies Mill.
Poetisk Podcast #14: Atomernes dans (Dance of the Atoms)
Ever since I heard about the substance of thought, I have had difficulty finding a way amongst the many objects that block the movement of thought. Molecules, ions, atoms. Synapses, fluids, neurons. Not that free thought has become impossible, but difficult, an obstacle course.
Nordic Council Literature Prizewinner Solvej Balle’s hypnotic text Or set in the future through Ida Nerbø’s soundtrack. Curiosity and wonder. The continuous and the punctuated – out into a new sphere. Intense, beautiful, and relentless. (Outside of her sound design work Ida mostly known for her DJ and Techno productions.)
Atomernes dans is the last of five productions in the series Poetic Podcast Sends 2050, where the invited poets were given five titles to choose from as points of inspiration: CIRKUS 3000, and Lytteposten, the first two in the series, dealt with the title ‘Thing/Nothing’. Kære mor, the fourth, and AFTER-TIME, the third, relate to ‘A Solar Wind in One’s Hair’, and Atomernes dans to… ‘The Dance of the Atoms’.
Poetisk Podcast #13: Atomar (Atomic Scars)
Atomar is based around a collection of 40 poems by Lene Henningsen, read aloud by Marina Bouras and Jens Albinus, with sound and music by yours truly.
One of Lene’s initial images for the collection was in terms of form:
I saw pages with spread, splintered words before me, with countless variations of spaces and pauses between the statements of the words, images, “melody lines”.
Later she wrote that:
Atomar starts from a present, a real lived present, and visions break out from that present in attempts at change, expansion, movement. The eruptions are violent, atomic. There is cultural criticism, but also the desire to remember the beautiful, the deeply culture-bearing. There is in the microcosm a sadness over the difficulty or impossibility of relationships, and in the macrocosm sadness over something similar; the impossibility of peace and care of the planet.
Between desperation and hope, the atoms continuously burst and form both their and our space, time, and future. And on the souls and bodies that live through it all, are the theatre of it all, atomic scars remain; in the poems fleetingly shaped like parts of a letter, the perhaps tiny empty space between two words, or touched by a breath after a comma –
It’s all in Danish, but an English translation of the poems (which might provide a good companion to following the podcast episodes) has been published and I’ve made a number of short videos with English captions for some of the poems.
Poetisk Podcast #12: Kære mor (Dear Mom)
Dear Mom, 2050
I’m recording this for you again in the hope that
you will wake up one day
then I’ll tell you everything
you can move in
here with us
I cleaned up for you
the house is as it was when they fetched you
Every day I think about calling you
I forget that you aren’t here
a little further down the road
lives a man whose wife
has also been fetched
Kære mor is a letter, to Mom, recorded in 2050.
The letter gradually records the contours of how the world looks and feels.
Text (Danish): Nanna Storr-Hansen.
Voice, interpretation & sound effects: Birgitte Lundtoft & Mia Edelgart.
Kære mor was the fourth in the series Poetic Podcast Sends 2050, where the invited poets were given five titles as points of inspiration. Kære mor relates to the title ‘A Solar Wind in One’s Hair’.
Poetisk Podcast #11: EFTERTIDEN
EFTERTIDEN (AFTER-TIME/POSTERITY) is a musical universe with a lyrical voice as its centre. The words speak of being alone, of overcoming and surviving, of cold, winter coats, of snow, of the beauty of ashes, of getting through crises. The music hovers around the words, whispering and bubbling, at once distant and near, warm and cool. In passages it resonates with and shares the same space as the words, in others it withdraws and leaves the words in their own space, trying to remember something that seems forgotten.
Niels Frank rewrote his poetry collection “Små guder” (Small gods) (2008) for the podcast, and Rosanna Lorenzen composed the music.
The podcast was the third out of five productions in the series Poetic Podcast Sends 2050, where the poets were given five titles as points of inspiration. CIRKUS 3000 and Lytteposten, the first two in the series, dealt with the title ‘Thing/Nothing’. EFTERTIDEN relates to ‘A Solar Wind in One’s Hair’.
Poetisk Podcast #10: Taras & Anna
Recorded in April, a little over a month after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In her introduction to the podcast Lene Henningsen (who translated and recorded the poems), at the time still recovering from a bout of Covid, describes “…fever dreams and fantasies, many of which ended somewhere in Ukraine, and that was perhaps not so strange since many of our thoughts at the moment end there, or dwell there, and perhaps find it difficult to find a way back again.”
Taras Shevchenko (1814 – 61), was Ukraine’s great national poet from the Romantic era and a symbol of the country’s independence – a political figure, artist, and etnografer. Anna Akhmatova (1889 – 1966), an important and highly loved Russian (Ukrainian born) poet, wrote in the shadow of Stalin, censorship, persecution and fear. Both were national treasures, each in their own way. Both were censored and imprisoned for writing and thinking the way they did.
I wrote a little about the complex tangle of cultural identity and imperialism that they provide a touchstone for, in my newsletter at the time.
Poetisk Podcast #9: Lyttepost (Listening Post)
Sound and text: René Jean Jensen
In Lyttepost, the philosopher David Hume is quoted as saying that there are no connections between things and events, only coincidences. Can that be true? What about time, the past; what about the seasons – do they also coincide, do they overlap? Is a drop an isolated event, does it want something itself? Can you hear the difference between 11 and 10 stones thrown into the water? What does it sound like when no stone is thrown into the water? Is the silence someone’s, is it nothing, is it a thing? And what is ‘nostalgia’?
The podcast is the second of five productions in the series Poetisk Podcast sends 2050, where poets were invited to choose from 5 titles as a point of inspiration. René dealt with topic of Thing/Nothing, particularly in the ‘experiments’ in the podcast, as well as in a more figurative sense in relation to the concept of ‘nostalgia’ and the feeling that the bandwidth of the ‘now’ contains many ‘things’ that one doesn’t discover in the moment (and therefore experiences/hears as ‘nothing’).
Poetisk Podcast #8: CIRKUS 3000
There is no climate left. Certainly not many people either. A radio journalist has been given the opportunity to cover CIRKUS 3000, in what is probably the last broadcast in the world. Enclosed in a transparent box, with a synthetic voice as his only company, he tries to describe the spectacle and the unknown beings who are creating it somewhere above the highest structure on earth.
CIRKUS 3000 was the first of five productions in the series Poetisk Podcast Sends 2050, where poets were invited to choose from 5 titles as a point of inspiration. Tomas Thøfner chose Thing/Nothing – which became CIRKUS 3000, with sound design by Kalle Esbjørn Thøfner.
Poetisk Podcast #7: Trut, trut trompeten kommer
Trut, trut trompeten kommer (Toot, Toot the Trumpet Is Coming) is a summary of Bananskolen’s (Lars Skinnebach, Goodiepal & Pals) trip to the Netherlands to, together with various groups dealing with political art and activism, play concerts and mimeograph Lars’ new poetry collection as a zine.
Bananskolen (which is the name of the expansion that was first called Goodiepal, then Goodiepal & Pals and now Bananaskolen (The Banana School), which involves a flexible number of people, including Goodiepal and Lars Skinnebach) went to Rotterdam in September 2021 to print Lars’ new poetry collection together with various groups dealing with political art and activism, including “The Volunteer Firebrigade of the Apocalypse”, “Woodstone Kugelblitz” and “Whistlegraph”. They took over The Trumpet, a magazine about the apocalypse printed on mimeograph machines with the idea of deliberately embracing a process that is old, slow, and cumbersome. In addition, they played two concerts in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. The podcast is a summary of the work with the journal/collection of poems entitled Trut, trut trompeten kommer and the concerts.
Poetisk Podcast #6: Syv lag (Seven layers)
In this podcast one hears the first three chapters of Julie Sten-Knudsen’s poetry collection Syv lag (Gutkind, 2021) with sounds and music by Sandra Boss. The poems revolve around a chaotic birth that ends in an acute caesarean section, about the fragility of the body and nature, about ruins and extinct butterflies. And about a small child who is in the process of experiencing everything for the first time.
Sandra Boss created a quivering electronic sound universe with simple melodies, timbral planes, and recorded sounds. A sound universe that creates a sensual space for the poems to unfold in; where pain and naivety meet, and where the quiet but insistent tone of the poems is supported musically.
Sandra Boss wrote a little about the process ‘behind the seven layers’ in the Poetisk Podcast newsletter (Danish): poetiskpodcast.dk/nyhedsbrev/december-2021