Linda Vilhjálmsdóttir still lives in Reykjavik, her place of birth. She works as a part-time nurse. In her three volumes of poetry she goes from much to little, from exuberant, ornate language to texts purged of all superfluity, from poetry rich in imagery to a sober record of everyday life.
Like nearly all modern Icelandic poets she writes unrhyming, free verse, with sporadic rudiments of traditional Icelandic forms. With many other young poets in Iceland she shares a predilection for the prose poem.
In her first two volumes exuberance still prevails, in fantastic images, baroque colouring and sudden flights of fancy, a habit of writing dedications to all sorts of people (a reviewer once said she gave him the somewhat embarrassing sensation of reading someone's private correspondence), and a preference for writing poems in triplets: three Nights, three Mona Lisas, three Weathers. In some triplets the inner cohesion is obvious, as in 'Night one-three', in which the bride shows the bridegroom three aspects of herself; some others, like the Mona Lisa triplet, leave us guessing. Her idiosyncratic imagery and unusual turns of thought make many of these poems hard to fathom, unyielding, but no less intriguing.
As in much Icelandic poetry, nature and the weather play a prominent part, either as independent agents or as metaphor for certain moods. A frequent theme is that of man's ultimate inability to reach his fellow man. There are motives from folklore, like that of waking the dead to get at one's enemy, and the closely related motive of the 'kraftaskáld', the poet-magician whose power of the metrical word can allay evil spirits. Some poems were inspired by the 'work-place', the hospital, in sometimes unexpected ways.
Linda's last collection, which describes a sea voyage from Iceland to France, is strikingly sober in texture as compared to the earlier work. There are no unessential words; images are almost absent. The poems read like simple songs, which is precisely what the poet wants them to be: songs like the ones sailors request on a radio show.
[Linda Vilhjálmsdóttir took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 1999. This text was written on that occasion.]