Interview with Monica Aasprong

What is the situation of poetry in your country?

I live in Stockholm/Sweden but I am Norwegian, and publish my poetry in Norway. So I relate closely to two literary scenes, and one could also add the Danish'. When it comes to poetry all the three Scandinavian countries are connected by language, we are able to, and we do, read each other, so there is a lot of different influences and various expressions. In Sweden and Denmark the so called conceptual practices have had a stronger position, all the way back to the sixties, but with the younger generation this has also reached Norway, so we now have a wide range of different poetics side by side. There is quite a rich flora of festivals and literary journals, though the daily newspapers seem to use less and less space on poetry.

Do you think poetry is an instrument that can bring different cultures and religions nearer?

You have to be free to create, and I think this freedom can be felt also when you perceive a poem. It's all about perceiving, and that means to be open, open to something outside you. When you advocate for a cause, for instance write an article in the paper, however good the arguments are, you often tend to convince just the ones that already agree with you. The discursive text caters to our intellectual centras, and there we have a lot of defence strategies. The poem has another possibility, as unlike religion and ideology the poem doesn't have any answers. The Palestinian poet Somaya el Sousi, living in Gaza, said it so beatifully when she visited Stockholm 4 years ago: "the poet is searching for an answer in the head of the reader - with music as a guide".

Today language is becoming impoverished: can poetry return value to words?

There are so many spheres - ideological, commercial, religious etc - where language is trying to manipulate you: so it is a great relief to enter a zone with no certain agenda, at least no fixed meaning, or fixed way of expression. Authonomy of aestetics has always challenged the power, from the right-wing to the left-wing, so I believe there is a strong potential in the form itself, the way of expression.

Poetry in the world of young people. Does it have a future?

Expressions are bound to be connected to impressions, so it's important to allow any expressions, not try to define what constitutes a poem, poetry, let a new generation find their way.

Poetry on social networks: quality or rubbish?

I'm not on social medias myself, so I don't really know, but I guess it has the same possibility as any fora to bring quality. The social medias and the net has influenced our relation to text (whether we're on social networks or not), and it seems natural that it takes the role as a new tool - and a new space - a supplement to what is already there.

Your poems often have a quality of performance art about themselves. How do you see this side of your production? Do you consider yourself more like a poet or an all-around artist?

I consider myself primarily as a poet, or a writer, at least my standing point is in literature. I've been a guest student at different Art schools, and in my work I have explored the borders towards both visual arts and music, but it is the words - the sound and the look of language - and also the semantic and symbolic level of the words - that are in the centre of my heart and mind when creating.

The poet Monica Aasprong