There is a gravity to Storholmen’s poetry. From 2000 onwards, across four publications of poetry and one book of prose, she has developed a poetic language and a set of motifs which shirk neither human tragedy, nor the individual’s search for belonging, whether it be through love or family relationships. Her themes are investigated from varying perspectives via parallel voices. Siriboka (The Book of Siri, 2007) is just such an example. The main monologue represents the voice of Siri and gives insight into the contrasting experiences of a girl at the beginning of the 1800s, from her tough life on a farm to the solemn power of the church. Running alongside the monologue is commentary from a narrator contemplating the identity of the individual.
The act of documenting is central to Tsjernobylfortellinger (Chernobyl Stories, 2009). In the postscript, Storholmen writes that the publication was motivated by “a fear of the tendency to see atomic power as a sound environmental choice compared to forms of energy which produce large amounts of CO2 [ . . . ] To be unable to fully communicate the risk associated with atomic power is to forget Chernobyl”. Raw and fragmented, the stories of the people who were affected by the catastrophe are portrayed: of those who worked on reactor 4, of those who were evacuated and, not least, of those who were pregnant at the time of the explosion, and of the children born thereafter, now adults. It is a powerful, sad, portrait of the world at its most inhumane.
In Til kjærlighetens pris (In Praise of Love, 2011), Storhomen’s latest publication, love is put to the test. As in Siriboka, there are two parallel streams of text: the first is an unbound contemplation on the breakdown of love, while the other, like an undercurrent, gives a dialogic dissection of the seemingly inexhaustible Orpheus myth. Through thematic and formalistic convergence and separation, love is contextualised as a lie, as sex, as a drug, as betrayal, as loss. One stream of text, as a metaphor for the river Styx, renders a transcription of a recording of a conversation between the writer (the documentary-maker) and a lover, made during a hike through Orpheus’ Cave in the Rhodope Mountains in Bulgaria, as if it were a recreation of the Orpheus’ katabasis. The conversation revolves around Ovid’s version of the myth in Metamorphoses, which highlights the myth’s themes of dualism and love and portrays Orpheus as the narcissistic artist, rather than Virgil’s version in Georgics (37–30 f.Kr) in which the narrative is shaped by a focus on the practicalities of agriculture (cultivation of a bee colony), and on a third person, the bee-keeper Aristaeus. In fact, in Ovid’s version, Aristaeus disappeared altogether from the story.
The selection of poems presented here, taken from Til kjærlighetens pris (In Praise of Love), demands an attentive reader. The theme of love is pushed along by small movements in the text, in the form of semantic fragments, through continually new variations on what love wishes to be, can be and ceases to be. In this way, love is portrayed as being essential to what it means to be human.
Krypskyttarloven (The Sniper’s Law), Aschehoug, Oslo, 2001
Skamtalen Graceland (The Disgraceful Speech, Graceland), Aschehoug, 2005
Siriboka (The Book of Siri), Aschehoug, Oslo, 2007
Tjernobylfortellinger (Chernobyl Stories), Aschehoug, Oslo, 2009
Juliana Spahr Alle med lunger kopla saman (All with Lungs Joined Together), Samlaget, Oslo, 2008. Translated together with Gunstein Bakke.
Til kjærlighetens pris (In Praise of Love), Aschehoug, Oslo, 2011