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
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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