Originally published in Willow Springs 63
From the author
Notes on “June”
“June” was written quite spontaneously, I didn’t know where I was going when I started out, and I am not sure where I ended up when it was finished. Being spontaneous isn’t enough, though. After writing the first draft, I put the poem away for a while to cool off. Then I start revising it. I spend a lot of time revising, and for the most part, I believe the poem benefits from it. There are always things you can change or cut. The first draft of “June” was much longer than the final version. If memory serves me right, the line that made me start writing it was one of the lines that was cut in the end.
Notes on Reading
I like Joseph Cornell’s Shadow Boxes, and they have been a source of inspiration for poems like “June.” Picking up objects, bits of conversations overheard on the bus, personal experiences, anything really, and putting them together in a box in the hope that they will become alive and start to interact, creating something new. It hardly ever happens, of course, but on the few occasions I have felt something stir to life in “the box,” it has felt like nothing else. If there has been a major change in my writing, it occurred when I discovered the prose poem. It opened a new world to me, both as a reader and a writer. I have always been fascinated by the little absurdities of everyday life, and the prose poem seems to be the perfect place for it. Minnesota prose poet Louis Jenkins has written great poems about growing old, several of them can be found in his book North of the Cities. He is also one of the funniest poets in America. And I love Crawling Out the Window, a collection of prose poems by Tom Hennen, another Minnesota poet. There is something of the ancient Chinese poets in him, of Clare and Thoreau, although he is very much a contemporary poet. Today I Wrote Nothing by Russian absurdist Daniil Kharms is a great collection of poems and prose. Kharms was a true original, one of a kind. He will take you to places you have never visited before.
I always go back to the Scandinavian poets Olav H. Hauge and Tomas Tranströmer. If not for them, I wouldn’t have become interested in poetry at all, and when rereading their respective Collected Poems, they probably inspire and amaze me even more now than when I first read them. Their writing is very different from my own; Hauge is the master of the short, economic poem, Tranströmer is the master of the metaphor. I read a lot, also during periods of writing, which probably isn’t such a good idea. Things tend to get mixed up, and it all becomes a mess. I am not striving to write a particular book, I think. Any book will do, so long as I haven’t written it before.
About Dag Straumsvåg
Dag Straumsvåg is the author of: Eg er Simen Gut (Aschehoug, Norway) A Bumpy Ride to the Slaughterhouse (Red Dragonfly Press, USA)
Louis Jenkins: Fisk på tørt land (Pir forlag, Norway) Transl. by Dag T. Straumsvåg
Robert Hedin: Hus ved polarsirkelen (Pir forlag, Norway) Transl. by Dag T. Straumsvåg
Currently, he is working on a new book of prose poems, which will be published in Norway in 2009 or 2010.