SJÓN TALKS TO THE BIBLIOFILE ABOUT THE POETRY OF ICELAND, DREAMS, BOWIE AND MODERNISM (POST AND NOT.)
Whilst in Ottawa for VerseFest Sjón met up with Nigel Beale from the Bibliofile, a Canadian web based literary podcast. They sat down together in Sjón’s hotel room and went with the flow until the ideas were just about flowing over the balcony and down to the streets. And we can’t have that, not with the temperature below freezing point. But here it is for your pleasure.
NEOARCTIC AT A NORDIC ART FESTIVAL IN MONTREAL
If you are in Montreal on the 14th of April you can step into the new reality of the anthropocene in the award winning opera/oratorio NeoArctic at the Théâtre Maisonneuve. It is a chilling wonder of visuals, words and sounds. For tickets to the 8pm performance go here.
Earlier on the 14th, at 5pm, Sjón will meet up with renowned Canadian biologist Jean Lemire in the Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme for a discussion about climate change and art. It is a free event but information about it is here.
SEVEN STONES PREMIERES ON 7th OF JULY IN AIX-EN-PROVENCE
The world premiere of the opera Seven Stones by composer Ondřej Adámek and Sjón takes place this summer at the Aix-en-Provence opera festival. The libretto is by Sjón, adapted from his own poetry collection The Song of the Stone Collector. On the homepage of the festival (where you can also buy tickets, here) it says:
“A mineralogist-collector who has got lost down a snowy lane remembers: many years earlier, he had gone in search of the first stone – the one that was almost used to stone to death the adulterous woman who was saved by Christ. During this seven-year long journey that takes him from Buenos Aires to Paris and from Japan to Iceland, the collector discovered many other stones … And the end of his journey leads to the conclusion of his quest – and to tragedy. Presenting this chamber fresco in the elegant red velvet atmosphere of the Jeu de Paume Theatre, Icelandic poet Sjón and Czech composer Ondřej Adámek tell a universal story that has the grace of our dreams and the force of our nightmares. Giving life to the shimmering precious stones of the opera in English are the voices of twelve choral singers from accentus and four soloists, who will be playing a number of surprising instruments and objects, some specially invented for this original, accessible and fascinating new production.”
SJÓN READS AT VERSEFEST IN OTTAWA
Sjón will be one of 70 poets appearing at Versefest, Ottawa’s international literary feast of verses and the words that make them. Sjón’s main event will be on the 24th of March but he will be around until the 26th to enjoy the program and the company of poetry lovers from all over the world.
SATURDAY, MARCH 24, 9PM
120 LISGAR STREET, OTTAWA
For more about Versefest and the great poets taking part in it go here.
ELÍSABET & BALTASAR — A SHORT FILM BY MELODY WOODNUTT
The short film Elísabet & Baltasar by Australian/Icelandic artist Melody Woodnutt was premiered at the Dead North film festival in Yellowknife, NT, Canada at the end of February. The haunting and beautiful film is partly inspired by Sjón’s poem “About the Alchemist”:
He sits in an old sickbed
unstitching the seams in his pyjamas
someone has sprinkled wheat over him
so that now he resembles a moth
His head touches the wall
on his forehead a film is shown in slow motion
A blonde with drunken lips
(Translation: David McDuff)
THE BOOK OF SJÓN BY ÚLFHILDUR DAGSDÓTTIR
If you are lucky enough to read Icelandic and are interested in the works of Sjón then SJÓN’S BOOK — The Adventure About the Author, Surrealism and Visions by literary scholar, horror film specialist and cyborg theorist Úlfhildur Dagsdóttir is a must have. Dagsdóttir has followed Sjón’s authorship since the late 80s and reviewed most of his novels and poetry collections for magazines and newspapers. In Sjónsbók she builds on her deep knowledge of his works and reads them in context with both Icelandic and international literary trends and traditions. It is for sale at the publisher’s homepage, here.
In his review about Sjónsbók in Nordisk Tidskrift professor Jón Karl Helgason says: “Her text shifts between linguistic virtuosity, paradoxes, repetitions and playfulness, but she is always serious in her approach. Sjónsbók is an important and essential work about one of our times most interesting authors.”
SJÓN TAKES PART IN THE EMIRATES FESTIVAL IN DUBAI
From the 1st to 4th of March Sjón will be in Dubai to read poetry and talk about the relationship between myths, folklore and contemporary literature. Among the authors coming to the festival this year are English poets Simon Armitage and Carole Ann Duffy, Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov, US/Nigerian SF/Fantasy author Nnedi Okorafor, the Pakistani novelist Kamila Shamsie and the author of Frankenstein in Baghdad, Ahmed Saadawi from Iraq.
POETRY MOVES MOUNTAINS IN BEWEGLICHE BERGE
A new German collection of Sjón’s poetry will be published by Edition Rugerup on the 15th of March. It contains the whole of his latest Icelandic collection gráspörvar og ígulker (house sparrows and sea urchins), the cycle náttúruljóð (nature poems) from söngur steinasafnarans (song of the stone collector) and a handful of new poems from the last three years. The poems are translated by Tina Flecken and Betty Wahl.
The book will be launched at the Leipzig Bookfair and Sjón will read from it at the fair’s Nordisches Forum on the 16th of March at 17:00 and again at the Nordisches Literaturnacht in Werk II — Kulturfabrik at 22:00.
COVER ART FOR THE UK EDITION OF CODEX 1962 HAS BEEN REVEALED
CoDex 1962 will be published in the UK the coming 26th of July by Sceptre with another wonderful cover illustration by Owen Gent. As they say on the homepage of Sceptre:
Jósef Loewe enters the world as a lump of clay – carried in a hatbox by his Jewish father Leo, a fugitive in WWII Germany. Taking refuge in a small-town guesthouse, Leo discovers a kindred spirit in the young woman who nurses him back to health and together they shape the clay into a baby. But en route to safety in Iceland, he is robbed of the ring needed to bring the child to life. It is not until 1962 that Jósef can be ‘born’, only to grow up with a rare disease. Fifty-three years on, it leads him into the hands of a power-hungry Icelandic geneticist, just when science and politics are threatening to lead us all down a dark, dangerous road. At once playful and profoundly serious, this remarkable novel melds multiple genres into a unique whole: a mind-bending read and a biting, timely attack on nationalism.
SJÓN READS HIS POETRY IN NICARAGUA
From the 11th to 17th of February Sjón will take part in Festival Internacional de Poesía de Granada in Nicaragua. It is a poetry festival famous for its international profile and outdoor readings attended by people from all flights of life. For information about the authors and program go here.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
BOREALES AND MAISON DE LA POÉSIE
At the end of November Sjón took part in the Boreales literary and arts festival in Caen and Normandy, visiting schools, libraries and bookstores. After meeting pupils and readers in the region to talk about The Blue Fox and Moonstone – The Boy Who Never Was he sat down with Swedish author Sara Stridsberg in the Auditorium du Musée des Beaux–Arts de Caen to discuss what literature is made of and what drives authors to distill their sometimes raging minds into carefully composed works of words.
After Normandy Sjón went to Paris to present Oursins et moineaux, the French translation of his book gráspörvar og ígulker, at Maison de la Poésie on 157 Rue Saint-Martin, 75003 Paris. The event was hosted by the books translator, Séverine Daucourt, and music was provided by mezzo-soprano Ásgerður Júníusdóttir and harpist Marion Herrera.
A LATVIAN BLUE FOX NAMED ĒNU LAPSA
Sjón’s first book in Latvian is out. Skugga-Baldur becomes Ēnu Lapsa in the translation of Dens Dimiņš. To present the book Sjón gave a talks and readings in Riga, Gulbene and Lizums. On the way he visited the quite run down Stāmeriena palace where Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, the great Sicilian author of Il Gattopardo (The Leopard), spent his summers in the 20s and 30s.