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Response & Bio Aase Berg

Translated by Johannes Gorannson

I started writing prose poems because I was thinking in images. I wasn’t interested in the chronology or development of prose, if nothing else as something one has to be aware of. This chronology– time passes and things have to happen and there has to be a narrative– is an element that reminds me of male sexuality. It’s a patriarchal invention I want to avoid. Even as I experiment, I want to avoid setting up a relationship with the male norm. It’s too easy to make the experiments merely a counter image, a reflection.

The prose poem has an enormous potential to be suggestive in its own way. It can function as an unmetaphorical, hard, objective image. It’s a completely different way of proceeding, a pipeline into the way the brain works when one stops filtering things through consciousness. The prose poem doesn’t need a meaning, a message; it speaks a dream language, a language that wants to slip through language and use it, that wants to make the words into body in a total concretion. I don’t think dreams mean anything; they just are. There’s no reason to translate them into logic.

As my two first books were in many ways waking dreams or hallies [hallucinations], it was natural for me to use the prose poem format. The things I wanted to show were accompanied by a pounding rhythm. And they were almost sickeningly kitschy. The rhythmic and screamily exaggerated word-images gave birth to the form– there was no talk about choosing the right form for the content. Form and content came together.

In my third book I started to compress and ended up in the form of the pure lyric. I wanted to see how much mass I could push into every word. It was also the path to images that were more open, images that yearned to become dance or music. Like small imploded stars I imagined them, insignificant but – were one to weigh them– very heavy. Like small pigs in a sack, a mixture of brawl and tenderness.

I don’t know if that’s working. Nothing works. But one can never stop trying. Language forces one to be a human on conditions one may not enjoy, forces one to accept reason, causality and chronology as main elements, not as choices. Following hand in hand with the surprise at the possibilities of language comes the hatred of language, and the demand for a new, more human language: a language that looks like us, instead of trying to discipline us.


Aase Berg is one of the leading young poets in Sweden. Her fourth book, Uppland, will be published this winter. She is also a frequent contributor to various Swedish cultural journals, writing on a wide range of issues (photography, gender, prostitution etc). Johannes Goransson's translations of her poems have appeared in/will soon appear in Conduit, Bitter Oleander, Skidrow Penthouse and Circumference, and on the web in La Petite Zine and Octopus. An upcoming issue of Bitter Oleander focusing on her work and an interview with her is forthcoming.