Friday, 18 December 2009

Pia Tafdrup: Over the Water I Walk (VII) - 1

I write for myself regardless of readers, in a process that deals with identity and continuous creation. Only later does the wish to be read arrive.


Usually when one wants to say something one addresses a specific living person, but with the poem it is different, and must be so. If I have a particular reader in my mind as I write the poem, I limit it, clip its wings by instinctively speaking into the shared space which the given reader and I have already established. The addressee ought to be unknown, an abstract subject, but the dream of a possible reader imposes itself on form and composition as an implicit and necessary structure. Only when I have surrendered the poem is it aimed at anyone who may read it. For a moment, the person who takes the poem into his or her hands is the chosen one.


As a poet I address something that exists outside me, something that is greater than myself. Even if one prefers to call this something God, it does not change the poems. The most important thing is that I who do the writing do not imagine that I am the highest, that I as creator do not confuse myself with God.


It helps to have literary models. Preferably dead ones, but God is and remains the highest authority. The poems do not have the character of prayers or invocations, but are written upwards towards this thing that is greater.

Yet I also replace God for another, but very important reason. Since God is an absolute value, God ‘sees’ the text differently from anyone else. God will not let himself be defined, but that does not prevent us from talking to God…

As the person who does the writing I am certain of at least one thing, namely that my poems will meet with countless divergent interpretations. Not necessarily because they are complex or unclear, but because every dedication is not just about the poem itself, but also implicates the person who reads it.

translated from Danish by David McDuff

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