Torgeir Rebolledo Pedersen
(Norway, 1949)   
Torgeir Rebolledo Pedersen

Torgeir Rebolledo Pedersen is a writer, architect, graphic artist and songwriter. Characteristic of his poetry is an unpretentious, discursive style that makes frequent use of puns and ironic allusions to other texts. The poems often contain elements of linguistic and social criticism, or deal with problems of modern relationships. Rebolledo Pedersen has performed with the Stunt Poets and the jazz group Søyr, and he has written literary cabarets, choral works and drama for stage, radio and puppet theatre. He has also written the libretto for a radio opera, Alfa Romeo, with music by Tor Halmrast, and for this he was awarded both the Prix d'Italia and the Edvard Grieg Prize in 1999. In 2004 Oktober Forlag published his Collected Poems. Rebolledo Pedersen was Norway’s  Poetry Slam Champion in 2005.

In the title poem of his latest poetry collection Erfaring og forsvinning (Experience and Disappearance, 2010), Torgeir Rebolledo Pedersen writes:

I in the side-mirror
unnoticed and reversed on

Although this is probably not how he sees himself, I feel that these lines – taken, it is true, out of context – reflect his place on the contemporary Norwegian literary scene. He does not have the central position he deserves, and I have often wondered why.  I imagine it has something to do with his humour, his seductive, sensuous, song-like style, his playfulness, his love of word play,  rhythm, alliteration and ornament. It appeals to the majority of readers, and that is not always the best thing for a poet's literary reputation. However, those who stay with his poetry will discover its powerful existential insights into the human condition on this earth. It would be wrong to say that the form gets in the way of the content, for as in all good art these variables are inextricably linked. It is in the tension between formal ease and fatal observations about life and death that Rebolledo Pedersen has developed his own distinctive voice. I think it has been hard work.

Since Torgeir Rebolledo Pedersen wrote his previous collection Min fars tegnemaskin (My Father’s Drawing Machine, 2008), he has experienced the tragic loss of a young son in a traffic accident. To quote the third and fourth stanza of the poem ‘Bring The Whole Landscape Here’:

it is not the dead who ask
it is the living who ask

after something living
to keep the dead in

This is what it is about. How to live with the dead in a way that is livable. How to store one’s experiences, the most painful ones, how to cope with what we have to cope with. We all have our burdens, great or small, but how to carry them without  kneeling under them?

In the poem ‘Death and the Boy’, the author insists that even this experience can be written about with a playfulness that seems all the more necessary. With an overflow of language and imagery  that transcends the paradox “heavy / light”: unbearable grief is described with wit and humour. 

In his poems Rebolledo Pedersen gives a precise description of life's darkest aspects, while magically making them seem comforting: something alive in which to keep the dead.

"for crashes of joy
for lashes of joy are we"

© Vigdis Hjorth (Translated by David McDuff)

The above introduction is a shortened version of  the essay 'To Dance a Sad Thought. On the poetics of Torgeir Rebolledo Pedersen', by Vigdis Hjorth, which appeared in Klassekampen, 25 February 2011. The editor has abridged it with the author's permission. The first paragraph is based on material from the websites of Forlaget Oktober and Store norske leksikon.

Tidr, Forlaget Oktober, Oslo, 1983
Gule sko. Gå med løvet, Forlaget Oktober, Oslo, 1985
Pube, Forlaget Oktober, Oslo, 1987
Landskapets hengsler, Forlaget Oktober, Oslo, 1988
Stråmann, Forlaget Oktober, Oslo, 1990
Han som elsket verden, Forlaget Oktober, Oslo, 1993
I krig og kjærlighet er ennå mye ugjort, Forlaget Oktober, Oslo, 1995
Verdner Gud engang ga ut, Forlaget Oktober, Oslo, 1996
Dikt i utvalg, Forlaget Oktober, Oslo, 1997
Blåveisfra, Forlaget Oktober, Oslo, 1998
Regnestykke for en sky, Forlaget Oktober, Oslo, 2000
Ferdskriver, Forlaget Oktober, Oslo, 2002
Samlede dikt, Forlaget Oktober, Oslo, 2004
Geitehjerte, Forlaget Oktober, Oslo, 2006
Min fars tegnemaskin, Forlaget Oktober, Oslo, 2008
Erfaring og Forsvinning, Forlaget Oktober, Oslo, 2010


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