KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 2: Winter 2015
Translations: Poetry
123 words [R]
80 words [R]
81 words [R]

[Three Poems]

by Karsten Bjarnholt
Translated from Danish by Thomas E. Kennedy


A person who draws must go out of the motif
to see what he’s drawing, says the teacher, Bigandt.
While the others dance
cheek-to-cheek, and do it at night,
which we don’t talk about, he says.
You could damn well imagine that,
boys, he doesn’t say. There is a distance
between the pencil point and the woman’s
form. Laughter,
that’s one of the hardest things to draw
and the curve of the rump, he doesn’t say. The word is
spermatozoa, remember it, he says.
Spermatozoa never sleep, he doesn’t say. Remember
contraception, he says.  Oh, breasts, he does
not say. I could go on, he doesn’t say.
Everything comes from—no, no, he says,
quick close the poem before it’s done, please.



You don’t have to hate honey
because you were stung by a bee,
he said, they perform a great work,
the bees, without knowing who they are,
almost never sleep, they dart
from mallow to mallow. The word is
mallow. Remember it, a mallow survives
on poor earth, only a little water
and it flowers constantly.
Mr. Bigandt leans back
against the board: the swallow can take a bee
in flight, but wipe them out,
that it cannot do.



Dogs bite each other bloody,
that’s the natural order, it’s
the strong that have the best bite,
it’s the most aggressive nature
that wins. The rest is submission,
the word is submission, said Mr. Bigandt,
remember it, submission. Stand up
when Principal Johnsen comes into
our classroom. I stand up myself,
he said. Nobody is
harmed by showing
a little respect. You can just
think about something else
meanwhile, said Mr. Bigandt.
I do it myself,
and so can you.

—All three poems are from various collections previously published in Danish, and reprinted here in translation by poet’s permission.

Karsten Bjarnholt
Issue 2, Winter 2015

was born in Copenhagen and published his first of a dozen poetry collections in 1970. His many books also include a novel and story collection, and he has also written texts for classical music and children’s songs. In addition to writing, he has been a teacher in Greenland and in schools for students with social and emotional problems. He is chairman of the poetry group in the Danish Writers Union. These are the first of his poems translated from Danish into English.

Thomas E. Kennedy’s
Issue 2, Winter 2015

30+ books include novels, story and essay collections, literary criticism, translation, and anthologies. His stories, personal essays, and translations appear regularly in American and European magazines and have won Pushcart and O. Henry Prizes and an American National Magazine Award, as well as many grants from the Danish Arts Council.

Kennedy lives in Copenhagen and teaches in the MFA Writing Program of Fairleigh Dickinson University. +

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Four More “Mr. Bigandt” Poems, in Serving House Journal (Issue 10, Fall 2014)

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