The work of the Norwegian poet Monica Aasprong (Kristiansund, 1969) is characterised by a multitude of themes and experimental forms, typographical elements and an overlap with other art forms. Aasprong studied creative writing and literary theory and published three poetry collections: Soldatmarkedet (The Soldiers’ Market, 2006), Et diktet barn (An Invented Child, 2010) en Sirkelsalme (Circle Psalm, 2013) and a novel in 1997. Aside from her own work, Monica Aasprong has also translated writers like Thomas Bernhard and Rainer Maria Rilke.
Soldatmarkedet is a literary musical project that began as separate publications in magazines and later resulted in a chapbook (2003), a poetry collection (2006) and several installations. In this project, Aasprong plays with sounds, fragments of words and associations. Words alternate in an almost kaleidoscopic, fugue-like manner. Sometimes a word is broken up and separated out into sounds, thereby returning it to its most basic form. This sometimes gives rise to chains of elongated vowels which almost seem taken from a Bach cantata: ‘choi i ier / mo o other / o oth seele / erde erde ele / une / see ste erne / a ar arche / ma ask ashes’.
The play of sounds and associations in Soldatmarkedet is supported by the design of the book. Some of the pages are divided up into text boxes which are made up of repetitions of a word or a sound; sometimes joined together, sometimes separate. Aasprong’s work is compared by some critics to concrete poetry.
In an interview, the poet explained that the first texts she wrote for this project had almost an explosive power for her; she puts this down to the fact that she’d been searching for years for the right voice to express this emotional poetry. In 2014, her poetry will be available in Dutch translation for the first time.
Her bibliography includes: mellom Alex Gobulev og meg (Tiden forlag, Oslo, 1997), Soldatmarkedet (Damm & Søn, Oslo, 2006), Et diktet barn (Cappelen Damm, Oslo, 2010), Sirkelsalme (Cappelen Damm, Oslo, 2013).
© Roald van Elswijk (Translated by Michele Hutchison)
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