Henrik Nordbrandt was born in Frederiksberg, a Copenhagen suburb, in 1945. He studied Chinese, Turkish and Arabic at the University of Copenhagen, but ever since his debut in 1966 he has worked as a writer.
Nordbrandt has won all possible literary awards in Denmark, his average being one every two years, but the most important award, that of the Nordic Council, he gained in 2000 for Dream Bridges, which also appeared in the Netherlands the same year. Alongside numerous collections of poetry, he has also published crime fiction, children’s books and even a Turkish cookery book.
For many years he lived in Mediterranean countries such as Greece and Turkey, and – more recently – Spain. His poetry deals with – what else? – travelling, but first and foremost with departures and arrivals that inevitably lead to new departures and arrivals. It also examines love, leaving, emptiness, absence, and death, which resolves everything. Yet when death took his beloved (see the poems ‘At the Entrance’ ('Ved indgangen') and ‘Ugur, Asaf, Behçet’), all he felt was absence and loss.
Despite his thematic choices, the language of his poems is elegant and almost cheerful, and his poems are often witty, displaying an appealingly paradoxical use of images. In fact, in considering language and the ways in which that language constructs the world, his poetry largely relates back to the self. His poems do not rhyme and are made up of either long, wandering sentences or very short precise statements, as in the poem about the meditating camel which is only aware of the steppe and the edge of the wood. Beneath the humorous forms and wordplay, one senses an undertone of seriousness and melancholy, which is also clearly evident when he reads aloud from his own work.
In Pjaltefisk (Seadragon, 2005) he experiments with sonnet and haiku forms. Nordbrandt’s most recent collection is Besøgstid (Visiting Time, 2007).
[Henrik Nordbrandt took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2009. This text was written on that occasion.]
Opbrud og ankomster (1974)
Ode til blæksprutten og andre kærlighedsdigte (1975)
Guds hus (1977)
Breve fra en ottoman (1978)
Rosen fra Lesbos (1979)
Forsvar for vinden under doren (1980)
84 digte (1984)
Violinbyggernes by (1985)
Håndens skælven i november (1986)
Stovets tyngde (1992)
Ormene ved himlens port (1995)
Egne digte (2000)