Linda Vilhjalmsdottir, Iceland. translated by Jacek Godek
The book Frelsi (Freedom) actually discusses enslavement. Using irony, its author brands petite-bourgeois rituals, all the well-being to which we have been driven by capitalism, pop-culture and our own spiritual laziness. The life of the protagonists of these poems takes place between the couch in the living room and the barbecue in the garden, between banal work and even more banal little pleasures. All this in the shadow of the looming ecological disaster. In Vilhjálmsdóttir’s poetry, ecology is not a fashionable ornament, but a real ethical problem. The cult of bodiliness as an ersatz of faith in God who is supposedly dead is another important topic resounding in these texts with dry, helpless grief: “pumping / in the patio and drudging away at a water horse mill / and on a treadmill in the garage // in this way / we will soon meet all the conditions / for the resurrection of the body” (transl. from the Polish language by Anna Moroz-Darska). Linda Vilhjálmsdóttir documents the annihilation of the Garden from which we originate, simultaneously undertaking polemics with religious doctrines, which in the course of history have effectively quickened the destruction. What is impressive is the hardiness of the Icelandic poet’s cold verses, which are able to bear politics, ecology and religion without losing the charm of a simple lyrical construction.
A selection of poems
Linda Vilhjalmsdottir (b. 1958). The poet comes from Reykiavik, where she casually works as a nurse. She has published three poetry books, including Bláþráður (1990), and Klakabörnin (1993); in 2003 her novel Lygasaga was issued, which in 2015 was followed by another book of poetry: Frelsi (Freedom), which she wrote over a period of seven years (2008-2015).
Jacek Godek (b. 1958) – a translator of Icelandic literature, actor, journalist, father and grandfather. Jacek Godek boasts several dozens of translations of Icelandic literature from medieval to contemporary times. The titles include 101 Reykjavik, Devil’s Island, Women, The Sorrow of Angels, and The Flatey Enigma. He debuted as a translator at the age of 16 with his translations of poems by Icelandic romanticist Jónas Hallgrímsson for the Polish Radio. Jacek Godek’s hobbies include golf, cinema, theatre, and the translation of Icelandic songs.