“Flotsam and jetsam” is how the Norwegian author Jon Fosse labels his poetry – something that happens to float past in the course of the writing process. It’s an image that fits with Fosse; he grew up on the banks of the Hardangerfjord, a landscape full of undulating lines, water and wind, rocks and rain. This scenery is a recurring motif in his work.
Jon Fosse wrote as a child but debuted in 1983 with the novel Rødt, svart (Red, Black). He achieved international fame with his plays; less known abroad are his poetry, prose, children’s books and essays. Several of his plays have been performed in the Netherlands, and his novel Morgon og kveld (Morning and Evening) and the novella Andvake (A Night Vigil) have also appeared in translation here. Jon Fosse has amassed an impressive collection of international literary prizes for his work.
The greatest common denominator in Fosse’s work is repetition. His language is musical, working suggestively through simple, unelaborate word choices and a repetitive rhythm. Particularly in his novels and novellas, the story is propelled along by that rhythm, continuously, and without the interruption of full stops, if necessary. Though challenging to the reader, putting the work aside is pointless, you’ll simply pick up the book again, caught in the melody.
His plots are generally restrained, pared back to the essential. Fosse does not shy from addressing weighty topics in the midst of all this simplicity: birth and death, love and solitude are recurrent themes. In his later works, a reaffirmed religious inclination makes an appearance.
For Fosse himself, the message and meaning of the art isn’t important, rather it’s what he calls “the silent voice”: an insight, something experienced between the lines, behind the words, in the existential silences amongst the undulating lines, water and wind, rocks and rain . . .
Jon Fosse was a guest at the 41st Poetry International Festival. This text was written for that occasion.
(All titles published by Det Norske Samlaget, Oslo)
Raudt, svart, 1983
Stengd gitar, 1985
Blod. Steinen er, 1987
Bly og vatn, 1992
Melancholia I–II, 1995–96
Morgon og kveld, 2000
Det er Ales, 2004
Engel med vatn i augene, 1986
Hundens bevegelsar, 1990
Hund og engel, 1992
Nye dikt, 1997
Uendeleg seint, 1989
Kant, with ill. by R. Friberg, 1990
(Second pub. with ill. by A. Düzakin, 2005)
Dyrehagen Hardanger. Fortelling for barn, 1993
Vått og svart, 1994
Nei å nei, 1995
Du å du, 1996
Fy å fy, 1997
Og aldri skal vi skiljast, 1994
Barnet, 1996 (utg. 1997)
Mor og barn, 1997
Nokon kjem til å komme, 1996
Natta syng sine songar, 1997
Ein sommars dag, 1998
Draum om hausten, 1999
Besøk. Vinter. Ettermiddag, 2000
Jenta i sofaen, 2003
Lilla / Suzannah. To skodespel, 2004
Dei døde hundane / Sa ka la. To skodespel, 2005
Svevn / Varmt. To skodespel, 2006
Rambuku / Skuggar. To skodespel, 2007
Eg er vinden, 2008
Desse auga, 2009
Jente i gul regnjakke, 2010
Frå telling via showing til writing, 1989
To forteljingar, 1993
Prosa frå ein oppvekst, 1994
Gitarmannen. Monolog, 1997
Eldre kortare prosa (with ill. by C. Wærenskjold), 1998
Gnostiske essay, 1999