Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Jørgen Leth / Boredom: selected poems around a theme



Jørgen Leth

BOREDOM
poems around a theme



RIGHT NOW I WANT
to be able to write a short poem

I’ve paper in the typewriter
I sniff my arm

I sniff my arm again
I think about what I want

I’ve finished
I’ve written a short poem

from Glatte hårdtpumpede puder [Smooth Inflated Cushions] (1969)



THERE’S A MESS OUTSIDE
some houses that don’t become each other
a sky not worth talking about
birds flying back and forth
a meaningless section of a mountain
a mishmash of human voices
with nothing to say to each other
sounds of all sorts of activity
I don’t care to know about
only here is there order
music that can be changed
a lamp casting an even light
on these words I’m arranging in lines

from Glatte hårdtpumpede puder [Smooth Inflated Cushions] (1969)



WHY DON’T I JUST SIT DOWN

Why don’t I just sit down
to write that story, just
anything at all – it’s night
in Port-au-Prince, it’s been raining
in Port-au-Prince, the dogs begin
to bark every night at three
in Port-au-Prince, and I have placed
(a lifetime behind me) my body heavily
in a space without walls, without edges,
without cover, a darkness filled with junk
labelled and detailed in the naked light
from an electric bulb hanging
from the sky by means of a cord
and there I try to align
my double shadow against the shiny detached
monument of a fridge and to
fix in my mind the sound of the night birds
and of plastic sandals in the gravel on their way
from one point in the darkness to another
maybe on the fringe of the melancholic
arrangement in the back garden, three tables,
no chairs and I regret now
not having eaten red snapper
a good fish, I’m sitting alone here
though illuminated and it’s night
in Port-au-Prince, it’s been raining
in Port-au-Prince, the dogs begin
to bark every night at three
in Port-au-Prince, just anything at all

from Hvordan de ser ud [How They Look] (1987)



Translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken

© Jørgen Leth & Gyldendal
Translations © Martin Aitken 2008

2 comments:

Martin Aitken [zookeeper] said...

Jørgen Leth. Poet, filmmaker. I translated these three poems along with four more on the theme, heavily inspired by Jonathan Wichmann's recent book 'Leth og kedsomheden' [Leth and Boredom], (Informations Forlag, 2008). They have just been simultaneously submitted to a couple of US journals and periodicals, including the New Yorker. Hopefully, they'll be published somewhere soon.

ΙΩΑΝΝΗΣ ΤΣΙΡΚΑΣ said...

I just ordered the "Trivial Everyday Things"..! Thanks you.

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