Thursday, 9 April 2009

Bror Rönnholm - From a Hollow in Summer

Bror Rönnholm (born 1949) lives in Åbo (aka Turku) in southwestern Finland and is the author of five poetry collections. His latest one Från en grop i sommaren (A Dip / Hole / Hollow / Depression in [the] Summer), Schildts, 2007, contains only prose-poetry. Prose-poetry is a genre in itself. The pieces tend to be as short as poems, but there is no typographic "shaping" of the outline of the words, and sentences run to their normal length. It appears to have arisen with Rimbaud and Mallarmé, then spread further afield. Rönnholm's first prose-poem from the collection runs like this:

The Hollow

He opened the letter and read: Am writing to you from a hollow in summer. That's putting it rather poetically, he thought, but the rest was crass and unsettling. There was no signature, and he hadn't a clue who it was. Did however think he knew which hollow was meant and drove out to the sand quarry, but nothing could be seen there beyond the stupidity of his own inkling.

Everyone knows very well that summer is a peak, not a hollow, he thought. A hill down the other side of which prams and trailers, bottles, balls and roundly generous promises roll till they are stopped by autumn storms, waterlogged ditches, unmown lawns and the laws of inertia.

He went back home, rummaged among his rubber stamps, and stamped no action to be taken on the letter. Didn't however find the right file to put it in.

You will note that in English, the word "grop" can have several different, subtly different meanings. It can even mean "dimple". This is where the translator agonises about tone and meaning. I shall be posting up more of Bror Rönnholm's prose poems in due course.


David McDuff said...

I like this - in its tone and style it somehow reminds me a little of Tove Jansson, but there's something else as well. Rönnholm is also a literary critic, and has written about the poetry of Catharina Gripenberg, among other things. I'll look forward to reading more of these prose poems.

Eric Dickens said...

Yes, between Rönnholm and Gripenberg, there is the Ostrobothnian connection. Although they now live elsewhere, they were both born in Ostrobothnia. I met Rönnholm again after almost 30 years in Visby last May.

The moustachioed Catharina Gripenberg (and I mean this literally) in on this month's Ny Tid calendar page, and there is a two-page interview article about her in the latest issue of Ny Tid, telling about her life in Denmark.

David McDuff said...

The bearded lady can be viewed here.

I think it's significant that she should have chosen Copenhagen as a base.

Katarina Gäddnäs' interview with Catharina Gripenberg can be read here.