Archives for posts with tag: Norway

Oslo_at_night
A Letter From Israel
by Tali Cohen Shabtai

I miss you so much
My poet
I miss Oslo.

You come to visit me,
Like a platonic figure
Longing
For a woman who lost the
Catharsis
In a city with no drawing,
With a man stuck with a broken foot
Responding
To the celebration of the woman that I am

And the women here named the same
Perfume over ten years
While I named (at the same time)
The same pills.

This is my accompaniment
I cannot beautify
My life
As you can’t either.

So I’m eating you
A little too much – sometimes with
My ripeness.

With my clouded eyebrows
And a cigarette in
My mouth

You wear the Kippa that I bought you
With Norwegian letters
Spelling your name

There is no better tribute here
My love,
This is
Israel.

Brev fra Israel
av Tali Cohen Shabtai

Jeg savner deg så
Min poet
Jeg savner Oslo
Kom til meg
Som en platonisk figur
Lengtende
Etter en kvinne som mistet
Katarsis
I en by uten en tegning
Med en mann stuck med et brokket bein
Reagerende
Til feiringen av den kvinnen jeg er
Og til de kvinner som her har samme navn
Parfymen over ti år
I mens jeg navngir ( alt til samme tid )
Den samme medisin

Dette er mitt akkompagnement
Jeg kan ikke forskjønne
Mitt liv
Ei kan du
Så jeg spiser deg

Litt for mye – noen ganger med
Min modenhet

Med mine lukkede øyenbryn
Og en siggarett i
Min munn
Du bærer Kappa jeg kjøpte til deg
Med Norske bokstaver
Ditt navn er skrevet

Kan jeg gi noe bedre hyllest
Min kjære,
Dette er
Israel.

Translated to Norwegian by Finn Cato Ophus Andersen

Previously published in the author’s bilingual poetry book Protest (Iton 77 Publishing House, 2012).  The poem was also featured in The Last Bohemian, a 2014 documentary where the author appeared.

PHOTO: “Oslo, Norway, at night” by Jørn Eriksson (2014), used by permission.

cafe sara

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The poem “Letter from Israel,” with its translation into Norwegian, was written after my return to Israel from Oslo. In the poem, I head to Oslo in the form of a Norwegian poet that I knew there. I express my longing and desire to return to Oslo from my grim reality in Israel.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I took this picture. There is something inspiring about the empty streets of Oslo at night, another scent. You can feel the atmosphere in this picture. The photo is outside a restaurant bar, Café Sara. That’s where I often came to know local artists. Café Sara is located at Hausmanns Gate 29, 0182 Oslo, Norway. (Photo from the author’s private album.)

tali

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tali Cohen Shabtai is a poet who was born in Jerusalem, Israel. She began writing poetry at the age of six. While a student of literature, she began to publish her impressions in the school newspaper. When she was 15, her poetry appeared in Moznayim, a prestigious literary magazine in Israel. She has written three books of poetry: Purple Diluted in a Black’s Thick (bilingual, 2007), Protest (bilingual, 2012), and Nine Years Away From You (2018). Her poems express spiritual and physical exile. She lived for some years in Oslo, Norway, and in the U.S.  She earned her bachelor’s degree at the David Yellin College of Education, and in Israel is a member of the Hebrew Writers Association and the Israeli Writers Association. In 2014, she participated in The Last Bohemian (Den Siste Bohemien), a Norwegian documentary about poets’ lives. In 2020, her fourth book of poetry will be published. Her literary work has been translated into many languages.

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In his novel Mysteries (1892), Norwegian author Knut Hamsun (1859-1952) offers a master class in how to open a story, introduce a main character, and create dramatic interest. Henry Miller called  the novel “closer to me than any other book I have read.”

The opening paragraphs set up the story and the basic plot in a suspenseful way that pulls in the reader. No wonder so many of the modern masters – including Ernest Hemingway, John Fante, and Charles Bukowski – admired Hamsun and considered him one of their greatest teachers.  According to Isaac Bashevis Singer, “The whole modern school of fiction in the twentieth century stems from Hamsun.”

Now let’s hear from Hamsun about the man in the yellow suit. 

MYSTERIES, Chapter 1 (Opening passage)

by Knut Hamsun

In the middle of the summer of 1891 the most extraordinary things began happening in a small Norwegian coastal town. A stranger by the name of Nagel appeared, a singular character who shook the town by his eccentric behavior and then vanished as suddenly as he had come…

It all started at six one evening when a steamer landed at the dock and three passengers appeared on deck. One of them was a man wearing a loud yellow suit and an outsized courduroy cap. It was the evening of the twelfth of June; flags were flying all over town in honor of Miss Kielland’s engagement, which had been announced that day. The porter from the Central Hotel went aboard and the man in the yellow suit handed him his baggage. At the same time, he surrendered his ticket to one of the ship’s officers, but made no move to go ashore, and began pacing up and down the deck. He seemed extremely agitated, and when the ship’s bell rang the third time, he hadn’t even paid the steward his bill. 

While he was taking care of his bill, he suddeny became aware that the ship was pulling out. Startled, he shouted over the railing to the porter below: “It’s all right. Take my baggage to the hotel and reserve a room for me.” 

With that, the ship carried him out into the fjord.

This man was Johan Nilsen Nagel.

The porter took his baggage away on a cart. It consisted of only two small trunks, a fur coat (although it was the middle of summer), a satchel, and a violin case. None of them had any identification tags. 

Photo: Men’s Wearhouse

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“Knut Hamsun taught me to write.” ERNEST HEMINGWAY

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“Knut Hamsun is the father of the modern school of literature in his every aspect—his subjectiveness, his fragmentariness, his use of flashbacks, his lyricism. The whole modern school of fiction in the twentieth century stems from Hamsun.”

             ISAAC BASHEVIS SINGER

Read Hunger by Knut Hamsun for free at Project Gutenberg here.

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I used to live next door to a woman from Norway. Once when I mentioned my admiration for Norwegian novelist Knut Hamsun, she corrected my pronunciation of his first name from “Newt” to “Ka-newt” – yes you pronounce the “K.” Am I the only American who didn’t know this?

I first learned of Hamsun’s novel Hunger years ago when a colleague at an ad agency recommended it (yes, some people who work in advertising have souls!). As soon as I read Hunger, the novel ranked among my top-five favorite books. I reread it every few years and each time get caught up in the protagonist’s story as if reading about this starving writer for the first time. Here is the opening line:

It was in those days when I wandered about hungry in Kristiania, that strange city which no one leaves before it has set its mark upon him.”

Hamsun’s work had a huge influence on some of the 20th century’s leading novelists. Here are some of their words:

 “Hamsun taught me to write.” ERNEST HEMINGWAY

 “I told her that Knut Hamsun had been the world’s greatest writer.” CHARLES BUKOWSKI, Women

“Please God, please Knut Hamsun, don’t desert me…” JOHN FANTE, Dreams of Bunker Hill

In 1920, Hamsun won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He lived to the great age of 92, passing away in 1952. Toward the end of his life, Hamsun suffered from a form of dementia that caused him to make political statements where it’s unlikely he knew what he was saying. Let’s forgive and forget.

Knut Hamsun invented the modern novel, and has been praised by legions of our finest writers for his innovations – such as stream of consciousness and interior monologue – that bring the protagonist to vivid life and allow readers to know the story’s hero to the bottom of his soul.

Photo: Clancy & Knut  (copy of Hunger purchased at thrift store for $1)