unseen

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Blind Words
Rolf Jacobsen
-are words that lovers say with their skin
inside night’s space, where thoughts are without form.

-are words the dying person forms in his throat
and never gets said before the candles have burned down.

-are words the fetus says when it dreams
about sounds it cannot hear and colors it doesn’t know.

-are words the wind says to the tree and sorrows
say to our heart.

-words that were here before words were created,
words that the earth is made of
and that the stars exhale as light
in their timeless breathing.

Original

Blinde ord
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anesthetizing

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Marshes
Rolf Jacobsen
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Original

Myr
Spettet ut over landet ligger de gule myrer
som flekker av pest.

Gråbleke i regnet og med tåkehette brer de sin
tristhet som endeløse hav mellom tynne skoger.

Rødflammet og mosegule ligger de i solskinnet
med stank og slikker himlen med sin tunge
av søt os.

Og noen kranser sig med unge bjerker, som
flokker av lyse piker står de og grer sitt hår
over lyngtuene.
Og noen hyller sig i en krave av brennende
blomster som de lokker til sig ut av
skogene, i en have av mjødurt, storkenebb
og hvit skogstjerne.

Og alle har de denne besettende ånde,
og denne bitre lukt av søt vin. Mange mil
gjennom skogen kan jeg kjenne den som
en bedøvelse for min tanke.

Photo by Troy Taylor on Unsplash

cobalt

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Cobalt
Rolf Jacobsen
Colors are words’ little sisters. They can’t become soldiers.
I’ve loved them secretly for a long time.
They have to stay home and hang up the sheer curtains
of our familiar kitchen, bedroom and den.

I’m very close to young Crimson, and brown Sienna
but even closer to thoughtful Cobalt with her distant eyes and
untrampled spirit.
We walk in dew.
The night sky and the southern ocean
are her possessions
and a tear-shaped pendant on her forehead:
the pearls of Cassiopeia.
We walk in dew on late nights.

But the others.
Meet them on a June morning at four o’clock
when they come rushing toward you,
on your way to a morning swim in the green cove’s spray.
When you can sunbathe with them on the smooth rocks.
-Which one will you make yours?

Original

Kobolt
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you

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Oh, this one makes me ache. Ache. Ache. “Surely this/is the only thing we’ve never/wanted to talk about”.

To You
Rolf Jacobsen
Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 02.24.14.png

Original

Til deg
Tiden går (hva skal den ellers ta seg til).
En dag hører du den banker på døren din.
Den har banket på hos oss,
men jeg lukket ikke opp.
Ikke denne gang.

Vet du,
jeg har ofte stått og sett litt på deg,
sånn om morgenen foran speilet der
når du kjemmer håret ditt, det
knitrer i det, som i sne i påskefjellet
og du bøyer deg litt frem (jeg ser det godt)
– er det kommet en rynke til?
– Det er det ikke. For meg
er du ung.
Det er sevje i deg, skog. Et tre

og med fugler i. De synger enda.
Kanskje litt lavt i høst, men likevel.
– Ikke en dag uten en latter i strupen,
eller det sakte streifet av en hånd.

En gang
må jeg holde den enda fastere,
for du vet, vi skal ut å reise snart,
og ikke med samme båt.
Noen har banket på døren vår, men gått igjen.
Dette
er visst det eneste vi aldri
har villet snakke om.

telling time

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Reminding me of an old Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode in which the entire crew went crazy for some reason, and Captain Sisko becomes obsessed with a clock, exclaiming emphatically at one point, “It’s a clock!

Old Clocks
Rolf Jacobsen
Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 03.45.10

Original

Gamle ur
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never quite said

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Did I Know You?
Rolf Jacobsen
Did I know you
really. Things
you never quite said or
we let lie. Half-thought
thoughts. A shadow
that passed over your face.
Something in your eyes. No,
I don’t want to believe that.
But it comes back. Night
has no sounds,
only strange thoughts. Words
that rise up from my sleep:
Did I know you?

Original

Kjente jeg deg?
Kjente jeg deg
egentlig. Noe
du aldri fikk sagt eller
vi lot ligge. Halv-
tenkte tanker. En skygge
som strøk over ansiktet.
Noe i øynene. Nei
jeg vil ikke tro det.
Men det kommer igjen. Natten
har ingen lyd,
bare rare tanker. Ord
som stiger opp av søvnen:
Kjente jeg deg?

Photo by Rares C. on Unsplash

Said and read – April 2018

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My April was filled with reading, but a lot of it was not anticipated. In recent months, I started to take action on a lifelong dream, and in setting that into motion, I also realized that there were loose ends from the past I wanted to tie up. In this case, I had an almost-finished MA degree that I started in 2012 but hadn’t completed the final thesis project. I wondered if maybe I could quickly wrap this up, so I wrote to the program administrator to see if there were any way to rejoin the course. In less than 14 hours, I was re-enrolled in the program and on my way to finishing the degree. So… yes, I have had a lot of reading to do, but almost all of it has been connected to my newly (re)claimed identity as a student. Now I have become one of those students I always hated when I was young: the dreaded “adult learner”. Anyway, this course is all research methodology in the lead-up to researching and writing the thesis. Therefore, not much material I would list here.

 

 

However… I did still find the time to keep up some of my reading for pleasure activities, albeit not as aggressively. Still, at the close of April, I had completed 150 books in total for 2018 (so far) with modest progress made toward my ultimate goal of reading 26 in non-English languages. (In April I did manage some Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic and French.)

Reading recommendations for April:

*North in the World: Selected PoemsRolf Jacobsen

Norwegian, dual language. I had to order the actual book! I loved receiving it. Sadly the poem I bought it for (to get the Norwegian original) wasn’t even in this volume but that is a good excuse to get another.

*Crossing to SafetyWallace Stegner

I would say that this is highly recommended and great, perhaps if it were the first Stegner I had ever read. And in truth, I do recommend this. Stegner’s natural, realistic way of writing is rare and engrossing. But his Angle of Repose was one of my favorites of all I read in 2017, so it’s hard for me to say that this book is its equal even though it’s still beautiful.

“Leave a mark on the world. Instead, the world has left marks on us. We got older. Life chastened us so that now we lie waiting to die, or walk on canes, or sit on porches where once the young juices flowed strongly, and feel old and inept and confused. In certain moods I might bleat that we were all trapped, though of course we are no more trapped than most people. And all of us, I suppose, could at least be grateful that our lives have not turned out harmful or destructive. We might even look enviable to the less lucky.”

*Several books by Danish poet, Henrik Nordbrandt: 100 digte, Omgivelser, and Selected Poems (in English)

It required a long, maze-like effort to find original (Danish) language e-books that I could both buy (many sites only allowed customers in Denmark) and buy affordably. Then I finally succeeded and loved these.

*PachinkoMin Jin Lee

I didn’t have high expectations for this book – and in fact didn’t really know what it was about. I would not say it’s a great work of literature, but it was undeniably readable and hard to put down. Following several generations of Koreans in Japan during the 20th century, it’s quite fascinating.

*Poésie africaine – Six poètes d’Afrique francophone: anthologieAlain Mabanckou (ed.)

A number of poets from Africa – some really great stuff. But then, I’m partial, you know, to poetry.

Good – really good – but not great

*Year of WondersGeraldine Brooks

“For the hour in which I am able to lose myself in someone else’s thoughts is the greatest relief I can find from the burden of my own memories.”

*Poèmes et rêvasseriesFiston Mwanza Mujila

French-language poetry from a Congolese writer I have appreciated for his prose work in the past.

*The DoorMagda Szabó

An unexpected and complex Hungarian book about an unusual and strangely demanding servant/housekeeper who comes to dominate the life of the story’s narrator.

“In my student days, I detested Schopenhauer. Only later did I come to acknowledge the force of his idea that every relationship involving personal feeling laid one open to attack, and the more people I allowed to become close to me, the greater the number of ways in which I was vulnerable.”

Entertaining/informative/thoughtful or some combination thereof

*I Am a Strange LoopDouglas R. Hofstadter

“So, to the extent that we can be chameleons and can import the “spices” of other people’s life histories (the spices that imbue their self-loops with unique individuality), we are capable of seeing the world through their eyes. Their psychic point of view is transportable and modular — not trapped inside just one perishable piece of hardware. If this is true, then Carol survives because her point of view survives — or rather, she survives to the extent that her point of view survives — in my brain and those of others. This is why it is so good to keep records, to write down memories, to have photos and videotapes, and to do so with maximal clarity — because thanks to having such records, you can “possess”, or “be possessed by”, other people’s brains. That’s why Frédéric Chopin, the actual person, survives so much in our world, even today.”

*Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practicebell hooks

A reading for the study program but certainly important above and beyond academic reach.

Coincidences

*The Strange Order of Things: Life, Feeling and the Making of the Cultural MindAntonio R. Damasio

Just as I rejoin the student world, much of what I am looking at/reading has a component of this: construct of culture. I had just finished reading this when I re-enrolled and thus would like to take a look at this comparatively against some of the uni readings.

“The idea, in essence, is that cultural activity began and remains deeply embedded in feeling. The favorable and unfavorable interplay of feeling and reason must be acknowledged if we are to understand the conflicts and contradictions of the human condition.”

Biggest disappointment (or hated/disliked)

*American TalibanPearl Abraham

I didn’t hate this book but I didn’t like it either. It isn’t anything I looked forward to or anything about which I had any expectations, and am not sure why I read it. I just found it sort of boring.

Images by SD 2018