“Nødtvedt probably stretched the bow too high, but it worked.»
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The lines play on Jesus’ parable about talents. A similar high-pitched tone characterizes large parts of the book, but it also breaks down into very different tones. This is how the poet Noodtveit can be identified through the poetry books he published in the past.
He always held his bow high. Also, it’s as if this time he’s extended it to a higher level. But not too loud. It works.
The Norwegian neo-poet Olaf Nygaard (1884–1924) had only four poetry collections published during his lifetime. As Nødtvedt here publishes his fifth book, it is in one sense or another in Nygard’s spirit, and also allegedly in the bed that Nygard himself built and slept in. In several places, the subject is what is registered during the day, but seems to be forgotten and disappears in the wanderings of the soul, only to reappear in dreams, where everything is processed: “In Olaf Nygaard’s bed, the personality is reorganized.”
As a literary work, “Olav Nygard’s Bed” is connected to a long tradition of visionary poetry: it alludes, among other things, to such great Norwegian predecessors as “Draumkvedet” (“And he is Olav Nygard / som heve sovi so lengje”) and “Voluspå” ( “Voluspå” (“Half Imovan on this night / Forces the wolf out of the grave.”)
And not only that: here it is quoted from the Old and New Testaments, what Plato writes about dreams, and from the play of the Spanish Golden Age poet Calderon, “Life is a Dream,” as well as from Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche. With more. Well versed, of course, but also with real poetic innovations. A book for the few, no doubt. Few of us read poetry. But we all sleep, even if not everyone sleepwalks.
Brings the dead back to life
The poet wraps himself in a “pajama shroud” and revives the dead. As a kind of intermediary, in leaps from mentioning myths from different parts of the world to going back to human prehistory (“ancient horror scenarios/of the two-million-year-old common dream”), before we suddenly find ourselves in today’s technological everyday life (with Expressions such as “I put the toothbrush on,” “Sleep soundly,” and “Snooze”).
With his incomparable combinations of traditional elements and modern additions, Nødtvedt is among the most challenging poets in Norway today. You have to make an effort to benefit from Olaf Nygaard’s Bed, and even then it’s difficult. Maybe it’s only possible if you dream away.
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