jueves, 5 de marzo de 2015



Spanish cultural magazine Crisis has just published an extensive special issue focusing on Swedish poetry. The Swedish Arts Council has spoken to Francisco Uriz, translator and mediator of Swedish poetry in Spanish, who has worked on the issue.

The cover of Crisis.This issue of Crisis contains a selection of contemporary Swedish poetry from a range of genres, including Lotta Lotass’ experimentalism, Line Ekdahl’s poems of the everyday and Sonja Åkesson’s neo-simplicity. Poets of the younger generation, however, have not been included; there isn’t one emerging poet in the issue.
I am not familiar with many younger poets, but I would love to translate Lars Mikael Raattamaa. When I read the presentation of a book by Aase Berg that characterises it as “hallucinatory, post-cataclysmic epic takes place in an unremitting future-past. The bodies mutate and hybridize. They are erotic and artificial, art and adrenaline,” it’s so highbrow I realise I’m not up to the task. The same thing happens when I follow debates about the challenges of poetry translation referring to the materiality of language as a central problem. You have to know the limits of your own abilities. I leave that to the younger generation of translators. I’m an old man who came to Swedish poetry through works by Artur Lundkvist, Harry Martinson, Gunnar Ekelöf. I then moved on to the generation that followed Werner Aspenström, Karl Vennberg, Maria Wine. And then I found Kjell Espmark, Göran Sonnevi.
A main focus of the issue is one of the key promoters of Spanish-language literature in Sweden, Artur Lundkvist. But in what ways is his literary production relevant to today’s Spanish readers?
Artur’s poetry has made a lasting impression on several Latin American poets. Pablo Neruda once wrote to me that “es grande la poesía de Artur” (great is Artur’s poetry). Not too long ago, Mexican poet José Emilio Pacheco thanked me personally for a translation of Artur’s poetry I did in the 70s, because it had meant so much to him.
This issue of Crisis grew out of a feeling of gratitude toward Artur Lundkvist. My wife Marina Torres and I have long thought it unfair that the people of Spain know so little about the man who did so much for the promotion of Spanish-language literature in Sweden in the twentieth century. We are the ones who have supplied the translation for this issue of Crisis. When I met the people behind Crisis in connection with a presentation of the actor, translator and journalist Karin Lannby, I had the opportunity to speak with them about Artur’s efforts on Spain’s behalf. It was not difficult to persuade Editor-in-Chief Fernando Morlanes to make a Swedish issue of Crisis a reality.
We also have to remember Lundkvist’s efforts to promote Swedish literature abroad. Few authors have shared their knowledge of their contemporary compatriots the way he did. When I presented a selection of his reviews of Swedish colleagues, Swedish broadsheet Svenska Dagbladet wrote that it was like “a repeat course on Swedish literature”.
Artur Lundkvist’s role as a promoter of Spanish-language literature in Sweden is important, and the same must surely be said of you as the translator of Swedish literature in Spain. What do you count as your most significant accomplishment so far, from the Swedish language?
Poesía nórdica, a 1100-page anthology of 150 Nordic authors, for which I was awarded the 1996 Premio Nacional de Traducción (Spain’s national translation prize). An anthology the Norwegian author Jan Erik Vold feels should be translated into Swedish! At first I thought the idea was absurd. But once I realised he meant that Nordic poetry is neglected in Sweden today, I tried to have it published there, unfortunately to no avail. The rights… The most challenging thing through the years has actually been to find publishers and magazines that are interested in publishing the texts. Compared to that, translating the poetry has been child’s play.
Who is your favourite Swedish author, all categories?
Gunnar Ekelöf. And if I’m allowed to name one individual poem: Göran Sonnevi’s “Om kriget i Vietnam” (On the war in Vietnam), which has been central to my own poetry.
Francisco Uriz works as a translator, dramatist and poet. He lives in Sundbyberg, Sweden

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