Vox Populi

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Lasse Söderberg: The sky over Fresnes

All winter I have seen
the sky over Fresnes, grey and dirty
like the walls where someone stayed
to be judged by the stones.

All winter I have walked
on empty streets and thought that the sky
looked like a damp rag that someone
desperately presses to a mouth,

All winter, wrapped in melancholy
by the high bird-flecked wall
I have appealed to the light shimmering 
out of the unbearable wound

Lasse Söderberg was born in 1931 in Stockholm, Sweden. He is the author of more than thirty books of poetry, and he is the foremost translator of post-war contemporary poets into Swedish from French, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, German, English, and Italian, including Octavio Paz, Yves Bonnefoy, Charles Simic, Jorge Luis Borges, André Breton, and Rafael Alberti. He founded International Poetry Days, a festival in Malmö, Sweden, and continues to arrange events in Malmö with his wife, Colombian poet Ángela García Ines Castrillon. He has received numerous awards for his poetry in Sweden and was named to an honorary professorship by the Swedish government in 2002. In 2019, he received the Max Jacob Prize in Paris. This is his first substantial volume in English.


Lars Gustaf Andersson is a poet and critic. He has translated works of British and American poets into Swedish, among them a selection of the poetry of Carolyn Forché, Mot slutet (Rámus 2020) and Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky, De dövas republik(Rámus 2021). He is Professor of Film Studies at Lund University, Sweden, co-author of among others Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Cinema (Scarecrow Press, 2012) and The Cultural Practice of Immigrant Filmmaking (Intellect Books, 2019). He lives in Lund with his wife Carina Sjöholm.

Carolyn Forché is a poet, memoirist, and translator. She is the author of the memoir What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance (Penguin Press, 2019), which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and five books of poetry. Her most recent poetry book, In the Lateness of the World (Penguin, 2020) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She is also editor of Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness (W.W. Norton, 1993) and co-editor of Poetry of Witness: The Tradition in English 1500-2001, with Duncan Wu (W.W. Norton, 2014). She has translated five books of poetry, most recently America by Fernando Valverde (Copper Canyon Press, 2021). She is University Professor at Georgetown University, and lives in Maryland with her husband, Harry Mattison.

The Forbidden Door: The Selected Poems of Lasse Söderberg

© 2022 Lasse Söderberg

All Rights Reserved

Translation © 2022 Lars Gustaf Andersson & Carolyn Forché

All Rights Reserved

Lasse Söderberg (photo source: Arrowsmith Press)
Lars Gustaf Andersson & Carolyn Forché (source: Arrowsmith Press)

2 comments on “Lasse Söderberg: The sky over Fresnes

  1. Saleh Razzouk
    October 23, 2022

    We do know very little on this pocket of the world despite it hosts Nobel prize for literature. Previously i enjoyed Transtromer via English of course. Translation gives a new vision no matter how much you abide with the original. Absurd. You can not keep the musical flow unless you change the words and the order of those words.
    But it helps in knowing the poetic sensitivity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vox Populi
      October 23, 2022

      Thanks, Saleh. Your translations from the English are important texts. You have done wonderful work.

      Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on October 23, 2022 by in Environmentalism, Opinion Leaders, Poetry and tagged , , , .

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