A Grapevine service announcement Pay attention: The Holuhraun eruption is at it again
Culture
Art
Gerður Kristný

Gerður Kristný

Words by

Published August 16, 2012

It is not only the handballers and the swimmers who are repping RVK in London this year. The British capital also played host to some of the world’s finest poets earlier this summer. Reykjavík’s own Gerður Kristný was selected to stand among writers from 204 Olympic nations and represent Iceland in an international ‘Poetry Parnassus.’
Part of the UK’s 2012 Cultural Olympiad and initiated by leading British light Simon Armitage, this was one of the largest poetry events the world has ever witnessed. Sharing centre stage with literary luminaries such as Saint Lucia’s Derek Walcott and Australian poet John Kinsella, Gerður read from her collection ‘Bloodhoof,’ published in English for the first time this year.
The vast event was opened with a ‘Rain of Poems’ over London’s South Bank, as Chilean arts collective Casagrande dropped 100,000 poems printed on bookmarks from a helicopter above the twilit River Thames.
Gerður was at the heart of the action at the opening set-piece, where people jostled good-naturedly to catch one of the falling works of art, gliding and glittering through the sky like ticker-tape, even bartering for rare Latin American verses or perfectly-formed Japanese haikus.
“I tend to become a little combative with anything like this,” admits Gerður, as she remembers witnessing an elderly man eagerly gazing heavenward hoping to catch his own literary memento. “I stood with him and made sure nobody else came near so that he would get something. I can be quite aggressive. I think it’s because at school I was never very good at sports.”
This was just the beginning of six days of poetic performance and enjoyment, with talks and shows that spoke to the universal themes familiar to so many of those nations represented: identity, conflict, freedom.
More like a big football match
The festival atmosphere however was what constantly prevailed. “This doesn’t normally happen in poetry,” she laughs. “Poets have to look serious and earnest. This was more like a big football match!”
Gerður first met the festival curator Simon Armitage whilst travelling through Asia some years ago. Armitage is one of the UK’s best-loved contemporary poets. His latest works take the English folkloric tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and bring them to a modern readership.
One of his earliest books was ‘Moon Country,’ published in 1996 with fellow British writer Glyn Maxwell following their voyage to Iceland, in turn evoking the travels of W.H. Auden and Louis MacNeice to the country in the 1930s, which inspired their collection ‘Letters From Iceland.’
For Gerður, the Parnassus was “a crash course in international poetry,” yet she is hardly a beginner in the global poetic kingdom. She flicks through her copy of ‘The World Record,’ the official anthology of voices from the Poetry Parnassus (in which she herself is of course published), and recalls her favourite poems, some of which were written her old friends.
Globetrotting with her poetry
As part of the festival, Gerður travelled across the Irish Sea to Derry in Northern Ireland to take part in a ‘Poetry Deathmatch,’ competing against poets from Tuvalu, Grenada, and Oman among others in round after round as poets were voted out until a winner was declared. “It was more like the Eurovision Song Contest,” she jokes.
Such globetrotting is by now second nature to her. Gerður has read her own work across the world, from Scandinavia to Asia. Her works appear in anthologies published far and wide. She shows me a Dutch anthology of poems about women, in which her own on Anne Frank is printed, alongside names such as Lorca, Nabokov, and Poe. She reads out the names still struck with awe, only then to conclude with a poet’s bathos and her own distinctive charming self-deprecating humour: “They must be turning in their graves!”
But her diary is filling up fast. Her next collection of poetry, ‘Strandir,’ inspired by the remote north-western corner of Iceland, is set to be released later this year. Soon she’ll be headed to Turku, the Finnish festival, as well as touring cities in the UK, and next year heading rather further afield all the way to Nicaragua.
And to hear poetry from every corner of the earth—not least her own deeply Icelandic work—remains, she says, a true thrill. “In Iceland,” she admits in stark contrast, “people talk of poetry like it’s a hospital patient in poor health.”
Is it? Who in Iceland writes poetry today? “I do! And that’s all I care about,” she concludes with her teasing smile. But wherever she goes, she introduces yet more new followers to Iceland’s literary heritage.



Culture
Art
<?php the_title(); ?>

Go PONG Harpa Now!

by

Ever wanted to play arcade classic ‘Pong’ on the massive Harpa facade? Great, because until August 31st you can–so long as you have a smartphone. PONG is an interactive multimedia art piece by Atli Bollason and Owen Hindley. If you go to Arnarhóll (the grassy hill overlooking Harpa with a statue of Iceland’s founding father Ingólfur Arnarson at the top) you can log on to a special wireless network, join a queue and then take control of either pong-paddle by tilting your mobile device. The game itself is then rendered in real time on Harpa’s facade using the 714 LED

Culture
Art
<?php the_title(); ?>

When Dreams Become Realities

by

In early 2012, 49-year-old Ármann Einarsson, a music school principal with a potbelly that he frequently, fondly, pats, sent a Facebook message to Brogan Davison, his son Pétur’s girlfriend, who is also a choreographer and dancer. “It said, ‘Hæ, Hæ: This is a formal request,” recalls Pétur, himself a theater artist and director. Having nursed a life-long dream to dance on stage, Ármann asked Brogan if she would be willing to help him achieve this goal. “I’d been thinking about dancing for so many years,” he says. “When I was sixteen years old, I loved going and dancing at balls.

Culture
Art
<?php the_title(); ?>

Everything Under The Little Sun

by

Internationally renowned artist Ólafur Elíasson has always been a fan of a spectacle. Whether he’s pumping tens of thousands of litres of water out of New York’s East River to form waterfalls, painting the rivers of Japan fluorescent green, or designing the façade of Reykjavík’s own concert hall Harpa, his art has always been imbued with a sense of extravagance. It may therefore come as a surprise that his newest venture is a relatively unassuming solar-powered lamp that measures roughly five inches across. Little Sun is the name he and his design partner—and the company’s co-founder—Frederik Ottesen gave the yellow

Culture
Art
<?php the_title(); ?>

A Steady Heartbeat

by

The Reykjavík Dance Festival is no stranger to flexibility and experimentation. Founded in 2002, the festival has provided Icelandic and international choreographers an unparalleled platform to showcase their work to an audience that may not have exposure to the world of contemporary dance. In 2012, when the festival turned ten, the coordinating board decided to shake things up and began inviting guest directors to curate the future iterations of the festival. With different curators asking different questions, the festival’s flavour has been distinct each year. This year’s curators and joint directors, Ásgerður Gunnarsdóttir and Alexander Roberts have lofty, daring plans

Culture
Art
<?php the_title(); ?>

The Creator Of Hangman’s Darker Relatives

by and

Hugleikur Dagsson, the controversial cartoonist famous for his satirical comic strips which often depict stick figures in violent situations involving murder, rape, religion, cannibalism, incest and suicide, enjoys huge popularity in Iceland, as well as an international cult following. Apart from his comic strips, he has also published multiple books, written a couple of stage plays, produced his own television show and done some stand-up comedy. It may be hard to believe, but Hugleikur’s success came almost by accident. As he tells it, he was participating in an art show in Seyðisfjörður during the summer between his second and third

Culture
Art
<?php the_title(); ?>

Poet Tattoos Demand That Minister Resigns

by

Tuesday, August 12, 2014. Poet Bragi Páll Sigurðarson just disclosed his new tattoo. It is situated on his right thigh, just above the knee. Unlike most tattoos, this one is written in Times New Roman. One sentence, split in two lines, it reads: “Hanna Birna, segðu af þér.” That is: “Hanna Birna, resign.” Standard punctuation. The direct message is as clear-cut as the typography. The demand, of course, refers to the scandal surrounding Iceland’s Interior Minister in recent months, which has been duly covered in this paper. I caught Bragi Páll on Facebook to ask him some questions. Well, before

Show Me More!