Posted by: tsopr | December 10, 2011

Niels Hav, Danish Poet

Niels Hav is a full time poet and short story writer living in Copenhagen with awards from The Danish Arts Council. In English he has We Are Here, published by Book Thug – moreover his poems and fiction are published in numerous journals and anthologies in e.g. Spanish, Chinese, Turkish, Dutch and Arabic. Raised on a farm in western Denmark, Niels Hav today resides in the most colourful and multiethnic part of the Danish capital. He has travelled widely in Europe, Asia, North and South America. In his native Danish the author of six collections of poetry and three books of short fiction. Click this link to read «Interview with Danish poet Niels Hav».

                                Featured Poetry of Niels Hav
               (Translated into English by P.K. Brask & Patrick Friesen)


You can spend an entire life
in the company of words
not ever finding
the right one.

Just like a wretched fish
wrapped in Hungarian newspapers.
For one thing it is dead,
for another it doesn’t understand

In Defense of Poets

What are we to do about the poets?
Life’s rough on them
they look so pitiful dressed in black
their skin blue from internal blizzards.

Poetry is a horrible disease,
the infected walk about complaining
their screams pollute the atmosphere like leaks
from atomic power stations of the mind. It’s so psychotic
Poetry is a tyrant
it keeps people awake at night and destroys marriages
it draws people out to desolate cottages in mid-winter
where they sit in pain wearing earmuffs and thick scarves.
Imagine the torture.

Poetry is a pest –
worse than gonorrhea, a terrible abomination.
But consider poets it’s hard for them
bear with them!
They are hysterical as if they are expecting twins
they gnash their teeth while sleeping, they eat dirt
and grass. They stay out in the howling wind for hours
tormented by astounding metaphors.
Every day is a holy day for them.

Oh please, take pity on the poets
they are deaf and blind
help them through traffic where they stagger about
with their invisible handicap
remembering all sorts of stuff. Now and then one of them stops
to listen for a distant siren. Show consideration for them.

Poets are like insane children
who’ve been chased from their homes by the entire family.
Pray for them
they are born unhappy
their mothers have cried for them
sought the assistance of doctors and lawyers,
until they had to give up
for fear of loosing their own minds.
Oh, cry for the poets!

Nothing can save them.
Infested with poetry like secret lepers
they are incarcerated in their own fantasy world
a gruesome ghetto filled with demons
and vindictive ghosts.

When on a clear summer’s day the sun shining brightly
you see a poor poet
come wobbling out of the apartment block, looking pale
like a cadaver and disfigured by speculations
then walk up and help him.
Tie his shoelaces, lead him to the park
and help him sit down on a bench
in the sun. Sing to him a little
buy him an ice cream and tell him a story
because he’s so sad.
He’s completely ruined by poetry.

Women of Copenhagen

I have once again fallen in love
this time with five different women during a ride
on the number 40 bus from Njalsgade to Østerbro.
How is one to gain control of one’s life under such conditions?
One wore a fur coat, another red wellingtons.
One of them was reading a newspaper, the other Heidegger
–and the streets were flooded with rain.
At Amager Boulevard a drenched princess entered,
euphoric and furious, and I fell for her utterly.
But she jumped off at the police station
and was replaced by two sirens with flaming kerchiefs,
who spoke shrilly with each other in Pakistani
all the way to the Municipal Hospital while the bus boiled
in poetry. They were sisters and equally beautiful,
so I lost my heart to both of them and immediately planned
a new life in a village near Rawalpindi
where children grow up in the scent of hibiscus
while their desperate mothers sing heartbreaking songs
as dusk settles over the Pakistani plains.

But they didn’t see me!
And the one wearing a fur coat cried beneath
her glove when she got off at Farimagsgade.
The girl reading Heidegger suddenly shut her book
and looked directly at me with a scornfully smile,
as if she’d suddenly caught a glimpse of Mr. Nobody
in his very own insignificance.
And that’s how my heart broke for the fifth time,
when she got up and left the bus with all the others.
Life is so brutal!
I continued for two more stops before giving up.
It always ends like that: You stand alone
on the kerb, sucking on a cigarette,
wound up and mildly unhappy.

Copyright © 2011Niels Hav


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