Poetry Travels with Anna Blasiak and Lisa Kalloo: IT’S COMING AGAIN by Michael Strunge, translated by Paul Russell Garrett

It’s coming again
like it does every year at this time
I can feel it
I no longer sleep
and the light is sharp this morning
and everything cuts and looks like crunching glass
and everything seems to start with s
sharp shining in the sunlight
luminous white weariness
aching eyes
and stinging transparency.

It’s coming again
like it does every year at this time
I can see it
in their eyes
on the train
I can see it
on their bodies
which are moving
according to a diabolical plan.
But it’s my fault too
there’s nothing to be done
I can hear it
in the words they speak
mumbling secret messages
about me
the morning people’s dark mouths
their heavy thoughts.

It’s coming again
like it does every year at this time
suddenly I’m here
and know it’s too late
it was my fault after all
it was that small point within me
growing behind my eyes
that has now become all the blackness
on their faces
in the colours
weighing on everything
I can’t move
and there’s so much I have to try to set right
but nothing comes out
I’m so empty
can’t exist
I know
it was my own fault.

It’s coming
I sink into the wall
into the safety of darkness.
That point. Again.

By Michael Strunge

Translated by Paul Russell Garrett

From SPEED OF LIFE by Michael Strunge translated by Paul Russell Garrett Published by Nordisk Books (2021)

Michael Strunge is widely regarded as one of the most influential modern poets in Danish literature. Growing up in a suburb of Copenhagen, he was heavily influenced by punk and David Bowie, becoming himself something of a (perhaps against his will) figurehead for the punk movement in Denmark. His first collection of poetry, Speed of Life, was published in 1978 and he went on to publish a further ten collections of poetry before his suicide in 1986. Strunge was one of the most public figures of the “1980s poets” who strove to break with what they saw as the banality of the writing that was popular in the previous decade. Strunge was more inspired by the likes of Rimbaud than he was by near contemporaries. With his raw and energetic writing and his punk/new wave aesthetics, he remains a cult figure, much loved by disaffected youth across Denmark.
Paul Russell Garrett is a freelance literary translator working from Danish and Norwegian. With London as his base, drama plays an important role in his translation work. His first published work, The Contract Killer, had its UK premiere in 2011. His literal translation and adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House was performed in November 2012 in London’s West End.

Photo by Lisa Kalloo

Check out the Poetry Travels book list on bookshop.org.

Read previous poems from Poetry Travels:

REPORT FROM ANOTHER CITY by Marcin Niewirowicz, translated by the Author INTERIOR by Ana Blandiana, translated by Paul Scott Derrick and Viorica Patea THIS IS LOVE by Joanna Fligiel, translated by Anna Blasiak REVELATION IN H&M by Menno Wigman, translated by David Colmer *** (I WANT TO FOLD THIS DAY) by Inga Pizāne, translated by Jayde Will THE SIEGE by Marcin Świetlicki, translated by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese FISH by Jana Putrle Srdić, translated by Barbara Jurša

THE WELL by Maarja Pärtna, translated by Jayde Will

THE SHADOW by Pentti Saarikoski, translated by Emily Jeremiah and Fleur Jeremiah

A FAREWELL TO MY DEAD CLASS by Irit Amiel, translated by Anna Blasiak and Marta Dziurosz

THE GIRLS IN BERGEN-BELSEN by Nora Gomringer, translated by Annie Rutherford

DECEMBER, by Jaume Subirana, translated by Christopher Whyte

ROSE RED, by Ulrike Almut Sandig, translated by Karen Leeder

*** (I D[R]IPPED MY PEN…) by Mario Martín Gijón, translated by Terence Dooley

WHAT COMES by Magda Cârneci, translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Mădălina Bănucu

TRANSLATION by Justyna Bargielska, translated by Maria Jastrzębska

*** (MY EYES, DENSE NIGHT…) by Gëzim Hajdari, translated by Ian Seed

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