1999
Pia Tafdrup
1962
2012

1999 Pia Tafdrup, Denmark: Dronningeporten

About the author

Pia Tafdrup (1952 - ) - Denmark

Pia Tafdrup was born in Copenhagen, grew up in northern Zealand and made her literary debut in 1981. She has predominantly published collections of poems, the best known being The Crystal Forest (1992), but novels and plays are also among her publications. Pia Tafdrup has been a member of Det Danske Akademi since 1989 and is also a member of the European Academy of Poetry. Among several other honours, she has received the Swedish Academy’s Nordic Prize and Weekendavisen's Literary Prize.

About the winning piece

Dronningeporten (Queen’s Gate)

Published by: Gyldendal publishing company
Publication year: 1999

Queen's Gate came into being following a visit to Jerusalem. After a day’s walks in the Old City, she noted that none of the city’s eight gates had female attributes. Her impulse became to make a female gate in the form of literature – Queen’s Gate. The collection of poems is made up of nine parts or chapters. Each part contains seven poems with a title of its own: The Drop, the Lake, the River, the Well, the Sea, Life Fluids, the Bath, the Rain and the Rainbow. The metaphors of the water dominate the language and relates to all things female. The language is emotional with rich suggestive beauty and great precision. Pia Tafdrup talks about the woman and her body. This work is on the relationship between mother and daughter, sexuality, love, pregnancy, delivery, death, happiness and sorrow. The constant dialogue with literature, classical music and visual arts appears as a contrast structure in the collection.

This is what the Adjudicating Committee had to say

Pia Tafdrup’s "Queen’s Gate” is a poem suite centred on water in all its forms. It is a complete picture of all the basic conditions in nature and the human life cycle, reflected through a female imagination with the body as the axis, in a poetic language with great visual and emotional power.

Excerpt

Inskription

Mellem nat og morgen på vej hjem over stranden
træder du ud på store, algebesatte sten i vandkanten.
Og badet i månens skær, med ryggen
til mig, pisser du i havet
med en lyd så klingende ren og med resonans,
fra dengang drengene med dampende gult
skrev deres navne i sneen, og vi,
fra en gynge i fart, svarede
med en endnu længere funklende stråle,
med flyvende hede dråber, for siden
på skift at erobre ved at underkaste os:
Med en flimren for øjnene i lunatisk fryd
skylle hinanden over i vældige søers kildrende styrtregn
og derpå se ukrudtet vokse sælsomt befriet, døvnælder
og skvalderkål i kæmpestørrelse, hvor vi,
svøbt i et metafysisk vådt lys,
hemmeligt havde sat vores sødligt stinkende dyrespor.


(s. 120, Gyldendal paperback, 1999)

See all nominated in 1999  

Denmark

  • Carsten Jensen - Jeg har set verden begynde and Jeg har hørt et stjerneskud
  • Pia Tafdrup - Dronningeporten

Finland

  • Monika Fagerholm - Diva
  • Irja Rane - Naurava neitsyt

Iceland

  • Hallgrímur Helgason - 101 Reykjavík
  • Þórarinn Eldjárn - Brotahöfuð

Norway

  • Geir Pollen - Hutchinsons Eftf.
  • Jan Erik Vold - Storytellers: en begrunnet antologi

Sweden

  • Lars Norén - Personkrets 3:1
  • Göran Sonnevi - Klangernas bok

Faroe Islands

  • Jóanes Nielsen - Pentur

Greenland

  • Ole Korneliussen - Uumasoqat