Image credit: Jim Zola, "Untitled" : photography

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ALLO FYOU WHOM OURN

 

mist mist mist moon

mist mist moon beam

ship mist mist mist

wave wave reef wave

 

ruby gold ensu nset

wave wave wave wave

pier pier pier pier

weep weep weep weep

 

paul anna agla logi

þóra rúrí ívar kaja

isko dóri kuba oleg

lára nína omar pála

 

blue blue bird blue

wave wave wave fish

seab edse awee dsea

silt silt hull silt

 

 

CARC ASSA NDCO RPSE

 

clea rsky clea rsky    

lake lake hill hill

hill moor moor hill

rein deer moor shot

 

twil ight slee tcar    

cros sing stop sign

carm ovem entw oman    

call thea mbul ance    

 

tree drop ping leaf                   

owlw armi ngsh ells                   

eyes seei ngno thng    

cold beco mesd eath              

 

deer isno wcar rion         

huma nisn owca rcas

skin bone lost soul

soil soul soul soil

 

  

CHIL LYEV ERYW HERE

 

rain drop sswi rlng

near lyfr ozen pale

glow from lamp osts

blow shol esin dusk

 

webe ndat thew aist

inwe athe rlke this

gray andb urro wing

down into ours lves

 

fore cast pred icts

rain will beat upon

roof tops andw alls

endi ngat midn ight

 

star sare worn down

like vaca tedf arms

thec osmo sisa void

arui nona cold mesa

 

 

GOTO WARD SENT ROPY

 

thef utur ecan goto

hell andm eltt here

huma nkin dcan goto

thef utur ethe nrot

 

infa rawa yice land

thet ribe obse rves

asag laci erde cays

thes amea sape rson

 

sinc eice land only

bear ssan dand rock

itca nnot care less

ifli feis thri ving

    

when iwas five isaw

atow erin ggla cier

that late rdro wned

amon gthe drif tice

 

 

 

 



View Original Work ↓

 

MARG URÞÚ SEMS YRGR

 

þoka þoka þoka máni

þoka þoka mána skin
skip þoka þoka þoka
sjór sjór sker sjór

 

rauð gult sóla rlag
sjór sjór sjór sjór
höfn höfn fólk höfn
sorg sorg fólk sorg

 

ævar kuba agla logi
þóra rúrí paul kaja
isko dóri anna oleg
lára nína ómar pála

 

loft loft fugl loft
sjór sjór sjór svif
botn þang botn botn
eðja eðja flak eðja

 

 

DÝRS KAÐI MANN SLÁT

 

himi ninn himi ninn
vatn vatn þúfa þúfa
þúfa mýri mýri þúfa
hrei ndýr þúfa skot

 

rökk ursl ydda bíll
gatn amót rauð ljós
bíll hrey fing kona
hrin gtás júkr abíl

 

tréf ella lauf blöð
fugl arve rpas kurn
augu sjáe kkin eitt
kuld iver ðurd auði

 

dýrv erða aðhr æjum
fólk verð urað líkm
blóð kjöt engn andi
anda andi andi anda

 

 

NAPU RTUM AÐLI TAST

 

rign ingi nþyr last
hálf fros inog hvít
skím aljó sast aura
spre ngir götí húmð

 

íveð rise mþes ueru
alla rman nesk kjur
jafn beyg ðarg ráar
ogho rfna rinn ísig

 

íall anda gmun regn
sláh úsþö kogv eggi
samk væmt veðu rspá
rofa rtil ámðn ætti

 

stjö rnur nrey ðast
eins oghe iðar býli
alhe imri nner auðn
þúst iráh álen dinu

 

 

ALLT ÍÁTT AÐÓR EIÐU

 

fari fram tíði ntil
helv ítis ogbr áðni
fari mann kyni ðtil
fram tíða rogr otni

 

ísla nder fjar lægt
land þjóð flok ssem
sérs ólhe imaj ökul
hrör naei nsog fólk

 

þaðs kipt irís land
engu máli hvor tlíf
þríf istþ víla ndið
fæði rgrj ótog sand

 

jöku légs áfim mára
stær rial heim inum
hann druk knað isvo
ílón imeð alís jaka

Translator Notes

As a reader and a writer, I’ve always gravitated toward fiction, within whose structures and conventions I feel very much at home. It is, then, only natural that as a translator, I’ve always gravitated toward prose texts as well. Recently, however, I’ve started experimenting with translating poetry, a process that has forced me to sit down and get my hands dirty—to break open the clockwork of this heretofore elusive form and see what makes it tick.

Inspired by the free-form, experimental poetry of the ‘Atom Poets,’ a loosely affiliated group of mid-20th century poets in Iceland, Kári Tulinius’ ‘breakable atoms’ (perhaps less elegantly, but pretty accurately shorthandable as ‘4x4s’) have been the perfect vehicle for this process of deconstruction and discovery, a crash course in the mechanics of the poetic form. At once rigidly form-bound and endlessly flexible, they are regulated by an ever-changing set of Oulipian-style rules. One poem creates a sort of typeset landscape (mist mist mist moon), strictly adhering to a four letter per word, four word per line structure; the next incorporates longer words, across columns; the next has the same elongated words, but drops phonetically unnecessary vowels, and so on and so forth. No sooner have you learned the rules then they change, forcing you—the reader, the translator—to be an attentive and active participant in the text. As Kári has written: “It is not enough to find the atom of the poem, but rather, it must be broken apart to understand the way it is put together.”

It has been my great and good fortune during this process to be able to work closely and collaboratively with Kári on these translations. The result is then a series of translations that aims to reflect and reconstitute the rules established in each of the original poems, which are very much grounded in the grammatical rigidities and flexibilities of Icelandic, while also transforming them to conform to the very different rigidities and flexibilities of English.


Larissa Kyzer

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