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Interview with Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl
Sharon Mesmer, on her Dubious Labia blog, interviews Icelandic poet Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl, founder of the Nýhil cooperative. The interview is notable not simply because it affords us a brief glimpse into the concerns of Icelandic poets, but because Mesmer and Norðdahl are actually in conversation – the whole thing is less of an interview and more of a intellectual discussion. The first topic on the table is, appropriately enough given the financial situations of the participants’ home countries, money. Sez Norðdahl:
Yes, it’s a crazy relationship, money and arts. But I’m not sure the money actually “taints” the art — not as such. But it does screw up the perception of it, at least in the short-run, creating for it a frame of reference which may or may not have anything to do with the actual work…But that being said, I tend to also feel that we need to look at it from the corporate world …so whether or not to (again) allow a bank to sponsor my book or a series of books I have a part in is not so much a question of what will it do to my art…but what it’ll do for the bank. And I’d like to do as little good for banks as I can get away with.
And sez Mesmer:
In the poetry economy, it could be said, poets worship an outdated past, even at the cost of a living present. And there will be poets who will disagree with this, experimental/avant poets who believe their work pushes a kind of “future” forward, but even the most avant poet right now probably feels (if they are willing to admit it) that certain poetries have become so institutionally-canted that there is a new audience/viewer/reader: the academic corporation. And just as the collapses of the Icelandic economy and our own…were based on corporation-created/driven ambition, I tend to feel the collapse of the poetry economy — where actual living human beings create poetry for other actual living human beings — is just this same thing.