October 27, 2011 in News
Booby, Be Quiet! is a collection of essays and columns about poetry, literature and literary politics(the title is a very learnéd reference to Auden’s translation of the Eddas). The essays and columns have been published in various places in the last five years – around half of the book consists of material written for The Reykjavík Grapevine, Iceland’s english speaking magazine.
The physical book can be ordered at the poEsia web.
BOOBY BE QUIET Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl
These youthfully exuberant essays on translation, innovation, performance, and audience are compelling, delightful, and often funny: illuminating as Reykjavik white nights and sharp as the skate blade of a North American racing champion. Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl redefines the issue of poetry and national language in a brilliant and transformative essay that is the centerpiece of the collection. His impatience with the tried and true is infectious. One of the most engaged and enthusiastic works of poetics in recent years.
– Charles Bernstein, author of All the Whiskey in Heaven (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 2010), Attack of the Difficult Poems (University of Chicago Press, 2011) amongst other books.
Norðdahl’s essays are brilliant vivisections of contemporary poetry and its problems, filtered through the prism of Iceland’s 2008 economic collapse — a close cousin of our own so-called “economic downturn.” The kitschy, nostalgia-driven “future economies” of both contemporary money culture and poetry culture are closely linked here (and elsewhere): ” . . . the present worships an outdated past, even at the cost of a living present.” As poets we may be working toward a goal of “fame” in the twilight of imagination — and, as citizens, working toward “affluence” in the twilight of capitalism — but if we identify the importance of the living moment as “the only eternity that lasts, without pause,” at least one of us may yet become that “he or she who affects . . . the entire critical mass of moments we call eternity” — beyond the mirage-like glow of “fame.” Norðdahl’s lively essays also introduce us to (perhaps) heretofore unexplored global poetries old and new in the most entertaining way, and leave us pondering a few delightful scenarios: “Imagine a poem so robust and resourceful that it could survive humanity . . . the nuclear dust finally settles and all that’s left of mankind is poetry.” Considering how long poetry’s been around, that’s probably what’s going to happen anyway. But in case you’re wondering what a poetry that robust might look like, there may be some presentiments of it right here.
— Sharon Mesmer, author of Annoying Diabetic Bitch (Combo Books, 2008) and The Virgin Formica (Hanging Loose, 2008).