2000
Henrik Nordbrandt
1962
2012

2000 Henrik Nordbrandt, Denmark: Drømmebroer

About the author

Photo: Lisbeth Thorlacius

Henrik Nordbrandt (1945 - ) - Denmark

Henrik Nordbrandt was born in Copenhagen. But he has spent a large part of his life abroad in countries such as Turkey, Italy, Greece and Spain. He has published thirty-odd collections of poems, essays, children’s books and even a cookbook – in Turkish. Henrik Nordbrandt has also translated Turkish poetry. His poetry is strongly influenced by the cities, landscape, culture and climate of the Mediterranean. Henrik Nordbrandt published his first collection of poems, Digte, in 1966 at the age of only 21.

About the winning piece

Drømmebroer

Published by: Gyldendal publishing company
Publication year: 1998

Drømmebroer is Henrik Nordbrandt’s 25th collection of poems. Using grim humour, he describes exclusion and living conditions of people in absurd storyettes. His pen is razor-sharp and the poetry is written in a language that is clear as a bell and precise. One of the poems depicts a tramcar racing through residential neighbourhoods full of dead people. Strangely enough, the tramcar comes from the past, but the residential neighbourhoods belong to modern-day Denmark. The Denmark he fled from when he settled outside Denmark. He has been considered an exclusive poet who in terms of central poetry focuses on the I and its close surroundings – as in Drømmebroer – but he has also published a range of books describing problems in contemporary society seen in a wider perspective.

This is what the Adjudicating Committee had to say

In "Drømmebroer" Henrik Nordbrandt has written one of his most beautiful poetry collections. It is a melancholic and ironic, playful and searching suite of poems. The bridge in the collection is a recurring image of life between arrival and departure, as well as a picture of the memory of the lost and rediscovered in poetry.

Excerpt

Drøm om regel

Vi ved hvordan det er og at det er
værre end det er:
Og det er altså Undtagelsen.
Så der danner sig en mægtig lang kø dér
af dem der gerne vil have vished
for at det virkelig er som det er.
I lange sorte frakker. I vintersolen
drikker vi kaffe med melankolske vagter
mens vi ser skyerne hobe sig op
over kupler, pigtråd og tårne
og de udtørrede flodlejer forsvinder
under skove af hvide kors.
I deres skygger kommer man i skole
på hospital og kaserne.
Det det mangler er
at der intet mangler: Det hele er med
og helheden er med i hver lille detalje.
Så det hele er blot en pause.
Snart går turen videre. Det er så Regelen.

(s. 15, Gyldendal, 1998)

A Dream about the Rule

We know how things are and that things
are worse than they are:
and that’s the Exception.
A big queue then builds up
of those who want to be certain
that things really are as they are.
In long black overcoats. In the winter sun
we drink coffee with melancholy guards
while we watch the clouds piling up
above cupolas, barbed wire and towers
and the dried-up river beds vanish
beneath forests of white crosses.
In their shadows people enter schools
hospitals and barracks.
What is lacking there is
that nothing lacks: everything is there
and the whole is in each little part.
So “everything” is just a pause.
Soon time to move on. That’s the Rule.

(p. 58, My Life, My Dream, translated from Danish by Robin Fulton, Dedalus, 2002)

See all nominated in 2000  

Denmark

  • Henrik Nordbrandt - Drømmebroer (eng. Dream Bridges)
  • Thomas Boberg - Americas: rejseminder

Finland

  • Paavo Rintala - Faustus
  • Peter Sandelin - Tystnader, ljud

Iceland

  • Guðbergur Bergsson - Faðir og móðir og dulmagn and Eins og steinn sem hafið fágar
  • Kristín Ómarsdóttir - Elskan mín ég dey

Norway

  • Frode Grytten - Bikubesong
  • Georg Johannesen - Ars vivendi, eller de syv levemåter

Sweden

  • Katarina Frostenson - Korallen
  • Beate Grimsrud - Jag smyger förbi en yxa

Greenland

  • Jørgen Fleischer - Seeredaaq allallu