Nordbrandt, Henrik

(1945-)
   A Danish poet and essayist, Nordbrandt is generally recognized as one of the truly outstanding poets of his homeland, not only in his generation but in the 20th century as a whole. His first book was entitled simply Digte (1966; Poems), after which he published a long series of poetry collections, among which are Syvsoverne (1969; The Late Sleepers), Ode til blæksprutten og andre kærlighedsdigte (1975; Ode to the Squid and Other Love Poems), Glas (1976; Glass), Guds hus (1977; tr. God's House, 1979), and Armenia (1982). His poetic vision has been remarkably consistent throughout his career. While Nordbrandt has a modernist sensibility and at times may be read as a postmodernist, he does not despair at the inability of human beings to get language to hook onto the world. Rather, it is the gap between word and thing, the world and language, which enables Nordbrandt's poetic vision. Any despair at finding that meaning is a myth is compensated for by the opportunity for poetic creation that the absence of meaning affords him.
   A similar dynamic is present in Nordbrandt's love poetry, which constitutes a major portion of his oeuvre. As is the case with the absence of meaning in the world, it is the absence of the beloved that stimulates him to speak of her, and the images that are a part of those speech acts serve as consolation for the speaker. This is shown particularly clearly in the volume Glemmesteder (1991; Places of Forgetting), in which Nordbrandt mourns the loss of his companion Ingrid. While dealing with what is arguably the greatest sorrow that life can inflict on a human being, Nordbrandt responded to the pain by composing some of his finest poetry, as shown also by his next collection, Ormene ved himlens port (1995; The Worms at the Gate of Heaven). The pain associated with the speaker's childhood is similarly transformed in the volume Drømmebroer (1998; Dream Bridges). Nordbrandt returns to investigating the incommensurability of word and thing in the collection Pjaltefisk (2004; Rag Fish).
   Nordbrandt has also produced crime fiction and essays. Døden fra Lubeck (2002; The Death from Lubeck) is a book about his childhood.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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