Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Det Poetiske Bureau

Seems that some of my friends heard a rumor I was involved in a performance event that took place at a gallery in my neighborhood. It seems this event−and the gallery, Det Poetiske Bureau, 52 Griffenfeldsgade, 2200 København N−got an extremely nice review in the respectable local press. Rest assured the review, which appeared in the 11-17 July 2008 issue of the København newspaper Weekendavisen, had little to do with me personally; however, my part in the program (reading about 8-10 minutes worth of original prose/poetry) was an explicit part of the advance advertising, and yes, I was mentioned by name in a favorable paragraph in the subsequent review. So....
No need for false modesty where my friends are concerned. Beelzebubblicious, this is for you and all the guys and gals I left back in New Hamster (who for some reason still seem to give a shit what I'm doing). Unfortunately, I was not able to establish a direct link to the story in the Weekendavisen archives, but the whole piece (in Danish) is posted on the blog of another guy who was there, poet Arash Sharifzadeh Abdi. Read it if you want to a more complete picture of the Bureau and the event in question.
The part that mentions me appeared as follows:
»Tag godt imod den amerikanske ordkemiker, Steven Levery!«

Det gør vi, selv om Levery med sin grå sweatshirt og midterskilningen i det grå grydeklippede hår ikke umiddelbart ligner billedet på en hip poet. Men på podiet sker der noget. Så snart manden åbner munden, føler man sig transporteret til en aften med spoken word i New York eller Chicago. Stemmen fylder rummet, diktionen er dynamisk, og Leverys digte kommer til live med spændstige ordspil og popkulturelle referencer. Hvor der før var stille inderlighed, er der nu bevægelse og små udbrud fra salen. Og da det bliver tid til pause, løfter en pige en magnumflaske i vejret og råber, at hvis nogen vil have champagne, skal de bare sig til.

»Der hører sgu et godt glas vin til poesi!«
Of course I don't read Danish very well, yet, so at the time I had to have someone translate for me. The gist of it is that I was introduced as "the American wordchemist", and that I am described at the outset as a guy in a gray sweatshirt, with gray hair parted in the middle and cut like the barber put a bowl over my head, someone who hardly looks like a hip poet. Actually, it put me in mind of Maynard G. Krebs, the beatnik character played by the late Bob Denver, opposite babe-magnet Dwayne Hickman, in the 1959-1963 TV comedy series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Which is fair enough. From there the story goes on to give me a huge thumbs up for my reading, describing it as akin "to being transported to an evening with spoken word in New York or Chicago." I can't translate the remainder in great detail, but as best I can make out it goes on to say that my diction was dynamic, and my poetry was alive with "supple wordplay and Pop Culture references." Or some such. As Maynard would have said, "Far fuckin out!" (Well, maybe when the cameras were off.)
My main regret is that because I am still just a dumb mono-lingual American (actually I do understand a little French and German), I couldn't comprehend most of the other prose and poetry that got read that evening (although I do get a lot out of the music that gets performed at these events, and sometimes there are others reading in English).
I am working on my Dansk, though.

2 Comments:

Blogger Jeanne said...

Hats off.
I wish I'd been there.

BTW, when you do understand Dansk, there's a Danish film called "Blinkende Lygter" http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0236027/
which with suprising ease squeezed into my favorite films list at an already crowded first place shared by "Kaspar Hauser"
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071691/
and "Hrafninn flygur".
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087432/
I just saw that it's been translated to English, so you don't even have to wait.

September 26, 2008 at 12:18 AM  
Blogger Steven Levery said...

I'll definitely look for this. As it happens I (finally) just bought a new digital TV and a DVD player, so I'm all set to catch up on the Danish cable viewing experience. Of course it's really for watching movies, and it would be great to have a Danish movie with English subtitles to make it a language lesson at the same time. Thanks, Jeanne!

September 26, 2008 at 6:30 AM  

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