Saturday 11 April 2009

Heidi von Wright - minimalist poet

Heidi von Wright [born 1980, pronounced Heydi fon Vrickt] is something of a contrast to Catharina Gripenberg, although both poets have lived in Ostrobothnia. While Gripenberg, in the collection shown in David's last posting here, deals in complex intertextual issues, von Wright hones hers right down to the basics.

Thanks to the swift work of Schildts literary editor Mari Koli, I requested Heidi von Wright's latest collection
dorren öppnar rummet (The Door Opens the Room) on 8th April and received a copy this afternoon, three days later, Finland to the Netherlands. So I've been able to translate several poems from that collection to show her style. As each section forms a unity of sorts, it seemed logical to present one of these units. The poems therefore comprise the first section of the collection. After the epigram, the first poem. Each poem has a title in italics and is separated by seven asterisks.

sister. sister. brother

the key to the house locked in the house

a gate.
on the other side of the gate a yard.
in the yard a house.
the house has openings.
one opening is a door.
inside the door a hall.
inside the hall a kitchen.
from the kitchen doors to other spaces.
other spaces are other spaces.

the house has two entrances one exit.


misty labyrinth

sunshine goes through cloud.
cloud goes through cloud.

roofing tile next to roofing tile.
brick under brick.

it is wallpaper.
it is paint.
it is renovation.

a room in the room’s room.


sleep scream suffering

wake up late
breakfast doesn’t come
into it.
nor is breakfast
an answer.


how quickly does a bed cool

there’s a lot inside your body.
sitting on the bed.
feet on the floor.

next to the bed stands a chair.


diverse reflections

spend the day
in front of the mirror.
trying to understand how
a face works.


double movements

talking and suddenly.
the temperature rises.
bursts the pipe.

weak life.
weak life.



kitchen window.
hot coffee.

the stove is on.
one dinner in the oven.
later. lying in bed.
the dinner lying in your stomach.


Translated from Swedish by Eric Dickens


David McDuff said...

See also:

Lena said...

As her language is easy, she might be easier to translate than understand... She was a class-mate of mine and I remember she never ran out of words. Her previous publishings are very nostalgic to any Ostrobothnian from the eighties. We are caught in a strange world here, between two very different cultures, but it allows us to create our own... pick and mix.