lördag 30 augusti 2014

Es gibt Raum für den Sieger

PSTC 2014 Final Chapter

It has been a great pleasure to provide this project for my blog-readers. It has not been easy to find suitable poems for each theme and team. But I have learned much about poetry and I have found many new favorites along the road.

I'm very pleased with the help I got from the members of the jury. It is never healthy when a judgement is based on, one person's subjective opinion. Therefore, I wanted to have a jury for the final. And what a jury I got!

Mats O. Svensson, a young and very talented literary critic. He writes for different newspapers and he also shares his views in naknanerver.wordpress.com

Johanna Bengtsson, editor of the music lyrics in Populär Poesi ('Popular Poetry'), a webzine and a paper magazine. 
Her latest piece can be read here.
The webzine is celebrating their five years of existence by publishing an exclusive e-book with articles. For poetry lovers who understand Swedish, I have only one call: 
- Ladda ned och läs!

Anders Svensson, editor of the most valuable magazine for schools and libraries, Språktidningen (a magazine about languages, not entirely about the fabulous Swedish).

Mathias Löf, a reviewer and a literary scholars. He has also been "Book-Ambassador" for The Book Fair in Gothenburg, 2013. He has a really interesting blog, Ordförrådet (in Swedish), where he writes about books and reading experiences.

Alice Thorburn, an eminent colleague who works at Stockholm Public Library, where she is responsible for the project Poesibazaren ('Poetry bazaar').

I have also had two language Consultants.

Agneta Myhr - teacher at Carlforsska Gymnasium in Västerås, where she teaches in Swedish, English and French.

Inger Andersson Berezan - teacher at Engelbrektsskolan in Stockholm, where she teaches in English and German. 


And the winner is ... or should I say "Meister in Fussball und jetzt Meister in der Poesie" ... 

Das Team aus Sachsen

Christian Lehnert 
Durs Grünbein
Volker Braun 
und Barbara Köhler.

In the last episode of competition, the highest score went to Team Utah and Sam Hamill for his "R.I.P.". That excerpt got the second highest score (21 jury-points) in the whole competition. I quote Johanna (member of the jury), she puts it like this when she describes Hamill's poem.

The poet not only leaves great room for an implied narrative, but also succeeds with small means to convey that this story is amazing.

With Barbara Köhler's 19 points (converted into 7 rank points), the team of Saxony emerged to the winning position.

Final score of Poetry Slam Team Contest, 2014.

TeamContentLanguageDay 4Total
Sachsen (Saxony)731035

Before the final week I tried to make odds for the team's chances. I checked the amount of references the poets have in Nobel Library's catalog respectively WorldCat. And I got this table:

1) Amsterdam
2) Saxony
3) Copenhagen/Malmoe
4) Dublin
5) Utah
6) Iceland
7) Vancouver
8) Zuid-Holland

As the final score show, Iceland surprisingly got silver and Team Dublin became the "upset" of the Final. Personally, I had Team Amsterdam as my favorites. And I must add that Katharine Cole's poem "Sailing to Antarctica" (from Day 2, Team Utah) was worth more praise. I recommend you to buy her collection "The Earth Is Not Flat".

With those words I end the big summer project. Maybe there will be a PSTC 2015.

From now on the blog returns to normality, written in Swedish and with the original headlines. 

torsdag 28 augusti 2014

Iceland rocks

PSTC 2014 Finals
It was not easy to find poems of high class to third day's music theme ... and it showed in the jury's judgement. 

Surprisingly, it was Tonnus Oosterhoff from Team Zuid-Holland who became their favorite with his poem "There was a man ...". Johanna Bengtsson (member of the jury) said this about Tonnus poem:

The poet creates with his expressive images a lot of movement in the poem - a credible and strong depiction of the dancing man.

My own favorite, "Pavane" by Anna Enquist, came in second place. Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl got 6 ranking points, compared with 1 for Saxony, and helped the Icelandic team to swing to the top of the table.

Icelandic sunset

Team Content Language Day 3 Total
Iceland 6 3 9 28
Amsterdam 7 3 10 25
Sachsen (Saxony) 1 3 4 25
Copenhagen/Malmoe 2 4 6 23
Zuid-Holland 8 3 11 22
Vancouver 4 2 6 21
Utah 5 3 8 19
Dublin 3 3 6 14


Last day of competition and we read about "Memories".

Archaelogy (1) / Esther Jansma
Team Amsterdam

(Från What it is : selected poems. Tarset [England] : Bloodaxe, 2008.)

Come back to light
all pasts are like
the soil in which they lay.

The poet I want to be
the rag-and-bone man, collector
of odds and ends, moments,
cracks in things, braille
is forever decoding expressions
of the selfsame face.


Fermata / Evelyn Lau (excerpt)
(Från Living under plastic : poems. Fernie, B.C. : Oolichan Books, 2010.)
Team Vancouver

When you returned to your wife 
you promised the pain wouldn’t last, you knew 
from experience that feelings passed— 
but twelve years later you appear again 
in a dream, and I am catapulted 
back inside the loop of love and loss, 
the laugh track repeating and repeating. 
Here the shell of my body 
is the lightest cargo, you take my hand 
and pull me through the crowds, 
their lantern faces swaying in the dark, 
their bloated limbs brushing mine, 
dream-figures huge as parent-figures 
streaming around and past me.


Spöktimma / Cees Nooteboom (excerpt) 
Team Zuid-Holland

(Från En staty av frågor / Cees Nooteboom ; urval och översättning: Lasse Söderberg. Lund : Ellerström, 1995.)

i de nattliga molnen
ingen enda uppenbarelse
ens när jag själv vill

Staden vägrar att brinna.

Jag låter min lust fördunsta i tiden
och får en äldre kropp
älskade jag dig tusenfalt?
eller bara hundrafalt?

Du vet vad jag vet
mitt minne försvinner med snön
och med minnet av snö
som när middagen förvandlas till svalor
och svalor till kväll
och kvällen till död.


In anderen räumen / Barbara Köhler (excerpt)
Team Sachsen

(Från Blue Box. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1995.)

sind wir engel schöner im ungewissen
zwischen hier und dort sind wir da
sprechen miteinander durch apparate
sind die stimmen im hörer das atmen
am anderen ende welcher leitung sind
in gedanken in erinnerungen auf fotos
sehen wir festgehalten die im flug
vergangene zeit sind wir aus schatten
von berührungen zusammengesetzt 
handschriften unsichtbar in fleisch und
in blut sind wir papiere die uns aus-
weisen als staatsbürger des paradieses
LOST IN LOVE es ist raum für dich
zwischen den worten ist raum für mich


After a childhood away from Ireland / Eavan Boland (excerpt)
Team Dublin

(Från New selected poems. Manchester : Carcanet, 2013.)

I had heard of this: 
the ground the emigrants

resistless, weeping 
laid their cheeks to, 
put their lips to kiss. 
Love is also memory. 

I only stared. 
What I had lost 
was not land 
but the habit of land: 

whether of growing out of 
or settling back on, 
or being 
defined by.


Mina syskon / Gerður Kristný
(Från Aurora : en presentation av 21 isländska poeter / Helen Halldórsdóttir (red). Stehag : Gondolin, 2002. Översättning: John Swedenmark.)
Team Iceland

Jag minns mig inte utan dom

Jag fanns egentligen inte
förrän dom föddes
med budskap från den allsmäktige
inkarvade i fotsulorna

som jag inte har kunnat läsa förrän nu

orsaken till det är nog att
jag alltid gick framför
och aldrig såg fotspåren

Jag ser fram emot att få
ha kvar försprånget
i graven och i döden

så att jag aldrig ska minnas mig
utan dom


R.I.P. / Sam Hamill (excerpt)
Team Utah

(Från Dumb luck : poems. Rochester, N.Y. : BOA Editions, 2002.)

They were surrogate
fathers to me, those hard men
whose hearts must have been
carved out of granite to choose
such cold, solitary duties.

If they knew a name
for love, I never heard it.
Theirs was a beauty
known only within the bones,
learned from life with animals -

animals to tend, animals birthing, 
dying, refusing to eat 
or getting stranded in snow
in a sudden big northern.


Ur Mitt krig, sviter / Jenny Tunedal
(Från Mitt krig, sviter. Wahlström & Widstrand, 2011.)
Team Öresund

Att se henne / hennes ansikte / i mitt ansikte

och ändå inte vara övertygad
att jag inte heller minns

döende / stötande / förvirrande   som fel

hennes starka argument
hennes röst som öppnar som galler

rinner det blod
kan det vara vårt blod    hennes fel

Jag har redan varit här flera gånger utan att se

onsdag 27 augusti 2014

Transit Saxony

PSTC 2014 Finals
It took almost photo finish during the second day of competition. Highest point of the jury was 18 and the lowest was 12. Just six points difference between the most and least liked.

Their choice of the day was Cosmopolite, by Durs Grünbein (Team Saxony). Mats Svensson (member of jury) gave this justification for his choice of favorite poem:

There is a new way of tackling the theme of the trip, partly by time and partly by deflecting the idealized image of travelling as something natural good and as a project of fulfillment.

Dresden Main Station

The second day's results put Saxony in the lead of the final, in halftime.

Team Content Language Day 2 Total
Sachsen (Saxony) 8 3 11 21
Iceland 7 3 10 19
Copenhagen/Malmoe 3 3 6 17
Amsterdam 5 2 7 15
Vancouver 6 3 9 15
Utah 4 2 6 11
Zuid-Holland 1 3 4 11
Dublin 2 2 4 8


Music is the theme for the third day's poems.

Jazz / Volker Braun (excerpt)
(Aus Provokation für mich : Gedichte. Halle (Saale) : Mitteldeutscher Verlag, 1965.)
Team Sachsen

Das ist das Geheimnis des Jazz:
Der Bass bricht dem erstarrten Orchester aus.
Das Schlagzeug zertrommelt die geistlosen Lieder.
Das Klavier seziert den Kadaver Gehorsam.
Das Saxophon zersprengt die Fessel Partitur:

Bebt, Gelenke: wir spielen ein neues Thema aus

Wozu ich fähig bin und wessen ich bedarf: ich selbst zu sein – 

hier will ich es sein: ich singe mich selbst.

Und aus den Trümmern des dunklen Bombasts Akkord
Aus dem kahlen Notenstrauch reckt sich was her über uns
Herzschlag Banjo, Mundton der Saxophone:
Reckt sich unsere Harmonie auf: bewegliche Einheit -
Jeder spielt sein Bestes aus zum gemeinsamen Thema.
Das ist die Musik der Zukunft: jeder ist ein Schöpfer!


A Christmas childhood / Patrick Kavanagh (excerpt)
(Från The Faber book of contemporary Irish poetry / edited by Paul Muldoon. Boston ; Faber and Faber, 1986.)
Team Dublin

My father played the melodeon
Outside at our gate;
There were stars in the morning east
And they danced to his music.

Across the wild bogs his melodeon called
To Lennons and Callans.
As I pulled on my trousers in a hurry
I knew some strange thing had happened.

Outside in the cow-house my mother
Made the music of milking;
The light of her stable-lamp was a star
And the frost of Bethlehem made it twinkle.


There was a man … / Tonnus Oosterhoff (excerpt) 
(Från Dutch and Flemish issue / edited by Theo Hermans. Modern poetry in translation 12. London : King's College, 1997. “There was a man …” translated by Deborah ffoulkes.)
Team Zuid-Holland

There was a man – nothing more than a thought,
a song of the times, strict upbringing,
chaste as the morning – who dreamt (cry me a river)
of performing naked.

In the Oasis Bar,
where he sometimes went dressed in a shirt,
where people knew him.


He expected to be exposed
by impersonal music, by artificial light;
but not everyone is an impostor.

His nakedness retreated inside, humming little verses,
to tempt him. The man, a song of the times,
a dancing man.


Ur Jazz-oratorium : I den lille by / Klaus Rifbjerg (excerpt)
(Från Jazz-oratorium : i den lille by / Klaus Rifbjerg ; översättning av Per Svenson. Malmö : Kolibri ; 2003.)
Team Öresund

Nu ska jag spela dig du gamla
Kom nu och lyssna på mig!

Har du nånsin varit i ett växthus
När de långa gröna skojarna hänger
Mellan bladen och det är
Hett hett hett?

Har du nånsin tagit steget
Från det banala
In i exotismen och känt det glatta
Gröna skinnet mot dina händer
Medan fukten stod upp i näsan som en gaslåga
Tänd och giftigt brinnande och våt
Och på samma gång vild och full av egg?


Coda: Kind of Blue / Larry Levis (excerpt)
(Från The selected Levis. [Pittsburgh, Pa.] : University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000.)
Team Utah

My name is Mr. John Coltrane, 
Sweet insolence, & rain. 
I don't come back again. 

And Am I Blue? So what? You think I didn't know what time it 
       was? said the trumpet. 
Take her hair, some smoke & snow, & give it all one name. Style it 
       as you please
Take someone who can't stop screaming, the el overhead, the sky, 
       & give it a name. 

Take Charlie Parker's grave all overgrown with weeds in Kansas 
       City. Add nothing, 
Except an ocher tint of shame. May all your Christmases be white 
       & Bird be still 
In L.A., gone, broken, insane.


Swing Ding / Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl (excerpt)
(Från Audioproduktion: Literaturwerkstatt Berlin 2010. Translation: The Author)
Team Iceland

A boy was sung to sleep at night
by a hungry maiden:
“Walking thong, bush of assembly,
swing ding, Deng Xiaoping”.

A boy was sung awake
by a young maiden:
“Young runt, misnamed
swing ding, Deng Xiaoping”

A pole goes in, goal! goal!
sings the song and cries:
“Poor thing, little bitty-boy
swing ding, Deng Xiaoping”


Pavane / Anna Enquist
(First published in Poetry International, 2013. Translation: David Colmer.)
Team Amsterdam

Round, choral, sonata. The notes 
are bricks to build yourself a home:
the sarabande, your heartbeat, your breath.

The pavane fits like skin, the requiem
forms a harmonious carpet. No house
is sturdier, no structure of time more solid.

She too had papered her walls
with music. On the street, surrounded
by uproar and stench, was she cradled by song?

Pergolesi and Prince. Cushioned
by cobblestones she sank,
safe and warm, in her cage of sound.


Conflating memories while listening to ”Day in, day out” by Billie Holiday / Brad Cran (excerpt)
(Från Ink on paper. Gibsons, BC : Nightwood Editions, 2013.)
Team Vancouver

Above all my grandfather liked the music
of Tex Beneke and Glenn Miller.

At university we listened to Herbie Hancock
playing "Cantaloupe Island" over and over.

Then the remix with Pee Wee Marquette.

I danced with two women
in my living room and one asked me
to take a bath but I did not understand
until later that if I had said yes
that this could have led to sex.

Instead I declined and danced into my own head
to the music of a blue trombone.

tisdag 26 augusti 2014

A straightforward curve for top spot

PSTC 2014 Finals.
The jury was almost unanimous in their assessment of the first day's poems. The poem that won the round received the highest rating of four out of five members of the jury. 


The jury assessed the poems based on a scale of 5 to 1 with five being the best. Then I ranked the poems after the jury's total score for each text. The jury's favorite gets 8 points, their second choice gets 7 points, and so on. The poem they liked least get one point.
In addition to the jury's point receives the poem a linguistic rating, set by a language teacher along the scale from four to zero.


Back to the results of first day's challenge. In the top with 23 jury points (converted to 8 ranking points) ended Marie Silkeberg's poem excerpt from the poetry collection "Till Damaskus" ('To Damascus'). 

I quote Alice, one of the members of the jury [my notes in brackets]:
A poem with a strong sense of presence, both in the physical [body] and in the big world [around us].

So the team from Copenhagen/Malmoe takes the lead.

The Bridge between Copenhagen and Malmoe.

Team Content Language Day 1
Copenhagen/Malmoe 8 3 11
Sachsen (Saxony) 7 3 10
Iceland 5 4 9
Amsterdam 6 2 8
Zuid-Holland 4 3 7
Vancouver 3 3 6
Utah 2 3 5
Dublin 1 3 4


Day 2: "Travel"

Tätt intill / Judith Herzberg (excerpt)
(Från Dagsrester. Urval, översättning och noter: Lasse Söderberg. Lund : Ellerström, 1995.)
Team Amsterdam

Att veta att det växer rhododendron på
       Himalayas sluttning
är inte nog. Att se en grön skalbagge krypa
på ett glänsande löv, se den falla av,
i skuggan nedanför känna igen jordens färg
inte bara en eller två gånger
utan år efter år, inte på Himalayas sluttning
utan här med detta gräs, denna jord
och på så vis lära känna ett litet stycke av ett större
land, så väldigt att det kunde kallas moderland,
moder Ryssland, moder Europa
på vintern, när molnen står stilla
i fönstret, hemlängtan i detaljerade bilder,
löv med nerver och allt.


Cosmopolite / Durs Grünbein

Team Sachsen
(From Ashes for Breakfast: Selected Poems. Translation: Michael Hofmann. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.)

The day after getting back from my longest journey 
I realize I had this traveling business badly wrong.
Penned in an airplane, immobilized for hours on end, over clouds that bear the appearance of deserts, deserts that bear the appearance of seas, and seas that are like the blizzards you struggle through, on your way out of your Halcion-induced stupor, I see what it means to stumble over the dateline.

The body is robbed of time, and the eyes of rest.
The carefully chosen word loses its locus.
Giddily you juggle the here and the hereinafter, keeping several languages and religions up in the air. But runways are the same gray everywhere, and hospital rooms, the same bright. 
There in the transit lounge, where downtime remains conscious to no end.
The proverb from the bars of Atlantis swims into ken:

Travel is a foretaste of hell.


On Indian trains / Harry Clifton
Team Dublin
(From The holding centre : selected poems 1974-2004. Highhreen, UK : Bloodaxe Books Ltd, 2014.)

Disoriented, travelling out of the night
In a lone compartment, sun dissolving the mystery
Of imagined whereabouts, I find myself in the sight
Of people, stations, a vision of history
Metal shutters disclose, where the living dead
On the platforms are going nowhere, begging bread.
Behind me the mountains, the cold railheads
In the Himalaya, where meditation
Fed on itself, and the compromised beauty,
The peace. I want to go on in the dark,
To sleep through chaos, at least to Calcutta Station
In the hands of stationmasters, Hindu clerks
More reconciled than I am, to their duty
In a disconnected wilderness, dharma without destination.


A Hotel / Lisa Robertson (excerpt)
Team Vancouver
(From Magenta soul whip. Toronto : Coach House Books, 2009.)

(after Oscar Niemeyer) 

I will take my suitcase into a hotel and 
Become a voice 
By studying stillness and curtains

I will take my stillness into a hotel 
Careening, not flowing, through 
Cities become his voice

Into a hotel I will take my city 
And roads
And the entire moving skin of history


Historia / Einar Már Guðmundsson (excerpt)
Team Iceland
(Från I oredans öga : dikter / Einar Már Guðmundsson ; i urval och tolkning av Inge Knutsson. Stockholm : Natur och kultur, 1998.)

I avlägsna slott
bor de sju underverken.

Han ror över havet
och vandrar från land till land,
men de fjärran slottens underverk
är en lort på en pinne jämfört
med undren i de grå molnen
och i de svarta klipporna.

Och öbon vänder om
och reser över de väldiga haven,
nu med avståndet som del
av sinnets resgods.


Sailing to Antarctica / Katharine Coles (excerpt)
Team Utah
(From The earth is not flat : poems. Pasadena, CA : Red Hen Press, 2013.)

I can’t get out of my head. On the bridge, the captain’s playing
“Break On Through”; he’s been

Playing “Stormy Weather.” Go ahead, Google World’s 

Roughest Crossing. Google 
Shipwreck, and Lost at Sea. Meanwhile, the ship 

Is tearing itself

Apart beam by steel beam; the ship is gnawing its own liver
And the sea is eating 

Its heart out and wants me to sashay right on by and take 

A look. Lean over
The rail, little one, lean a little farther. The problem is the voices. Sea,

Sea, you’re all foam

Vanishing, cry of shearwater and albatross wing knitting
You to sky; you are height


Sailor’s home (5) / Arjen Duinker 
Team Zuid-Holland
(From Sailor's home : a miscellany of poetry by Arjen Duinker, W. N. Herbert, Uwe Kolbe, Peter Laugesen, Karine Martel and Yang Lian. Arjen Duinkers poems translated by jeltje. Exeter : Shearsman Books, 2005.)

Suddenly the elements let go of their entrails.
Tremendous flashes of light mark the route to the harbour.
The perfume of loose hair is fabulous and inescapable.
The ship sails to where realities split asunder,
Sails through quiet facts and facts that gurgle.
All facts have gathered here to choose words,
All words have gathered to make dreams,
So good that there are no more flapping sails.


Orfeus i underjorden / Morten Søndergaard (excerpt)
Team Öresund
(Från Ett steg i rätt riktning ; översättning och efterord: Jonas Rasmussen. Malmö : Rámus, 2012.)

Hermes, precis bakom honom, blåser honom fram mot Hades,
på flyget, på tåget, på bussen
hur är det möjligt att få tillbaka det som inte kan tas tillbaka?
Han samlar ihop sina ord
och sätter livet till, han brinner i flygplatsens sterila lugn, han
brinner och utlöser brandlarmet,
vilket spektakel.

Nedgången till Hades, dödsriket, leder som alla vet
genom Tainarons port,
tre timmars bilväg från Sparta. Flygbussen sjunger vidare på
sin dammsång, och han låter den gröna kofferten
stå kvar på sätet, vad ska han med den till? Det finns ändå
ingenting i den längre.