~ Nationality: Iceland ~

Parabólusetning (Parabolic Inoculation) by Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl

A film by Swoon (Marc Neys) for a piece by the Icelandic poet Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl, the first of three (so far) in what Neys calls “my ‘videopoem journey’ along the Northern countries.” Norðdahl himself is no stranger to videopoetry, having made the wonderful Höpöhöpö Böks a few years back. He’s also a great reader/performer, so it’s no surprise that Neys used his reading of the text from Lyrikline in the soundtrack. The English translation, also from Lyrikline, is by Jonas Moody.

Neys posted some process notes to his blog. He says he wanted to try “a combination of a film composition with text on screen and a ‘regular videopoem’ with audible poetry.”

I had two distinctive parts in mind for the video;
A film composition (with text on screen) at slow pace
with the hectic and almost frantic reading combined with a whirlpool of images in the middle.

Read the rest.

It occurs to me on second viewing that the highly symmetrical structure of the video mirrors the shape of the poem on the page, where every line is centered and where the final lines come back to a similar image as the opening ones, parabola-like.

Höpöhöpö Böks (The Höpöhöpö of Bök) by Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl

Icelandic poet Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl calls this “a univocal lipogram composed for Christian Bök, author of Eunoia.” The univocality here is brought to you by the letter ö, and recited with characteristic verve by the author (who apparently also did the animation). This received a Special Mention at the 2010 Zebra Poetry Film Festival.

Utan Hringsins (Outside the Circle) by Steinn Steinarr


Steinn Steinarr (1908-1958) is Iceland’s most famous modern poet, and “Utan Hringsins” is one of his best-known poems. It was recently put to music by the Icelandic singer Friðrik Ómar, who used it as the title song of his fifth album, Outside The Ring, and sang an English translation by Jón Óttar Ragnarsson. I found another translation online in a Yahoo group devoted to the study of Icelandic and Old Norse:

Utan Hringsins
by Steinn Steinarr

Ég geng í hring
í kringum allt sem er.
Og innan þessa hrings
er veröld þín.

Minn skuggi féll um stund
á gluggans gler.

Ég geng í hring
í kringum allt, sem er.
Og utan þessa hrings
er veröld mín.

Outside the Circle
translated by Alan Thompson

I walk in a circle
around everything which is.
And within this circle
is your world.

My shadow fell for a moment
on the window’s glass.

I walk in a circle
around everything which is.
And outside this circle
is my world.

The video and sound are by Máni M. Sigfússon. Arnljótur Sigurðsson collaborated on the music.

“Bound is a Boatless Woman”: tribute to Látra-Björg

Neither a filmpoem nor a bio pic in the conventional sense, this six-minute film by Lisa Castagner, an artist from Northern Ireland, invokes the life and spirit of a fierce, 18th-century Icelandic poet I’d not previously heard about. Google Translate isn’t much help in deciphering the Icelandic Wikipedia page, except to impart the information that her given name was Björg Einarsdóttir, and “Látra-Björg” means something like “Trees, Boulders.” Fortunately, Castager’s description at Vimeo is a bit more helpful:

The title originates from a Viking proverb ‘Bundinn er bátlaus maðu’, meaning ‘Bound is a boatless man’. Likewise, a woman without a boat is a prisoner.

Látra-Björg was an 18th Century outcast fisherwoman who wrote poems believed to cast spells on those who crossed her. Fisherwomen were required to wear their skirts regardless of practicality, so they often defied the law and removed them at sea. Látra-Björg lived and died a beggar in an isolated northern fjord of Iceland during the ‘Mist Famine’ which forced many to emigrate to Canada.

I made the piece as an imaginative interpretation of Látra-Björg’s poetry and story while I stayed in that part of Iceland; her most well-known poem is ‘Fagurt er i Fjörðum’ (‘Tis fair in the fjords), a verse describing the beauty of the fjords when the weather is fair, until the extreme hardships of the winter, ‘when man and beast must die’.

Úr órum Tobba (From the Madness of Tobbi) by Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl

Poem and reading by Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl

This is a sound-poem in homage to a 17th-century Icelandic nonsense poet called Æri-Tobbi, or Crazy Tobbi, whose poetry is discussed at length in a fascinating essay archived at Norðdahl’s blog: “Mind the Sound” (hat-tip: Poetry News).

The categorical difference between sound-poetry and instrumental-music (including sound-poetry’s cousin, scat-singing) is that the listener inevitably interprets what he or she hears as ‘language’ – not only is it the framework that the work is presented within, but it’s also inherent to much of the actual work, that it actually ‘resembles’ language. […]

In early 2008 I wrote the poem ‘Úr órum Tobba’, (trans. From the madness of Tobbi) a six-to-seven minute long sound-poem carved from Æri-Tobbi’s zaum. The poem was first performed at the Scream Poetry Festival in Toronto, at the Lexiconjury Revival Night, and has in fact not been performed since (although published on CD, along with more of my sound-poems).

‘Úr órum Tobba’ is at once a found poem and sound poem, collaged and cut-up lines of zaum taken from the quatrains, tercets and couplets of Æri-Tobbi – the first of the thirteen stanzas is written thus:

Axar sax og lævarar lax
Axar sax og lævarar lax
Hoppara boppara hoppara boppara
stagara jagara stagara jagara
Neglings steglings veglings steglings
Skögula gögula ögula skögula
hræfra flotið humra skotið
Axar sax og lævarar lax

Each stanza has eight lines, and all are intersected with two of Æri-Tobbi’s most famous zaum-lines:

Agara gagara agara gagara
vambara þambara vambara þambara