We Are Here
When his collection Grundstof, from which most of the poems in We Are Here hail, was published in 2004, it was welcomed in one of Denmark’s most widely read newspapers Ekstra Bladet with these words: ‘Niels Hav is an economical writer. He only inconveniences the public when he has something important on his mind. Hav’s aim is to give weight to every word and to cut to the bone. It’s been ten years since his last book, but when he finally does publish what’s on the page actually says something. Grundstof‘s words are saturated with experience and wisdom.’
The English translations of his poems in We Are Here are no different: they address what Hav considers to be elemental about life, that undeniable essence without which everything makes little sense. His voice is direct and humorous, intelligent, lyrical and philosophical: a voice that takes into account the difficulties of staying close to the elemental. Hav is devoid of sly obfuscation; he is a poet unafraid of being clear. What could bemore direct or elemental than the fact that We Are Here?
Niels Hav is a poet and short story writer living in Copenhagen. He has published five books of poetry and three collections of short fiction. An earlier English edition of Hav’s work titled God’s Blue Morris was published in Canada in 1992, and the team of Friesen and Brask were also the translators for this collection. Hav’s work has appeared in other languages as well, including English, Spanish, Italian, Turkish, and Portuguese; a collection also appeared in Macedonian published by Spektar Press. Next year a collection will appear in Istanbul, Turkey. Hav has been the recipient of a number of prestigious awards. He has travelled widely in Europe, Asia, North and South America. He is married with four children.
Patrick Friesen is a poet, playwright, essayist and translator who lives in Vancouver. He has collaborated in the translation of three volumes of Danish poetry with P. K. Brask. Friesen teaches at Kwantlen University College. His web site is www.patrickfriesen.com.
P.K. Brask is a translator of poetry, drama and short fiction who has collaborated with Patrick Friesen on three collections of Danish poetry. He is Professor of Theatre and Film at the University of Winnipeg.