Peter-Clement Woetmann

- Denmark -

Peter-Clement Woetmann is a Danish poet, born in 1985 in Copenhagen. He is a graduate of the Authors' School (2006) and holds a BSc in Landscape Architecture and Urban Design (2012).


Peter-Clement Woetmann debuted as a 20-year-old with the collection of poems Fortunately, the Forest Has Disappeared in 2005. Subsequently, three collections of poems have been published: My Inner Pompeii (2010), 105 Variations (Arena) and Behind the Hills, the Coast - a Lament (2017).


Since 2014, he has worked with theater texts, and from 2015 to 2017 he was employed as a resident playwright at Aarhus Theater.


He has received The Morten Nielsen Memorial Grant and the Three Year Scholarship by Danish Arts Institute among others.


“There is something hesitant about Woetmann's writing,” wrote literary critic Christian Stokbro, when Peter-Clement Woetmann's second collection of poems My Inner Pompeii was published. As a reader, it can sometimes seem as if Peter-Clement Woetmann's words doubt themselves as they appear on paper. As if they want to hide again.


There is a force in that hesitation. It leaves room for doubt and tenderness.


Peter-Clement Woetmann has participated in literary experiments several times. Among other things, his third collection of poems 105 Variations (2015) was a result of him writing 1011 sentences, which a ‘poetry machine,’ in collaboration with the audience, put together in new ways. The results were at once chaotic and light. Here is an example:


Listening no longer made sense. The sentences are filtered threads. Like this morning. There was a standstill in the air, a standstill in the gray walls. On the balcony, this stream of new words, new sentences: You sparkle somewhere in my pages.


Again, we experience this hesitation. The sentences will not really stand on their own. They look cautiously ahead like the sun on a frosty winter day, gently and insistently at the same time.


In 2014, Peter-Clement Woetmann wrote texts for theater for the first time. It was in connection with the ballet performance In feeling - a war ballet, where the Danish Royal Theatre's dance laboratory Corpus and the experimental theater Black/White joined forces for a performance that mixed sober stories from Danish war veterans with poetry and ballet.


The work seemed to usher in a more political period in Peter-Clement Woetmann's writing. However, this is not a political statement that results in bombastic attitudes, but rather something that seems like a search for a new political language, a poetic policy.


The collection of poems Behind the hills, the coast (2017) can be read as a study of the inherent paradox of global inequality: While one person rejoices, another dies. While the poet stands in the mild Danish nature, refugees drown in the Mediterranean. Peter-Clement Woetmann insists on visiting this repressed truth in an almost mesmerizing tone, whose measured simplicity leaves reality brutally clear:


My body is not the dark sea one early morning in March


Peter-Clement Woetmann's hesitant entry into poetry has found a strength that makes him one of the most relevant writers of his generation - even though he never seems sure that it is a role he wants to take on.


By Thorkil Jacobsen

Translated by Jeremy Thomas-Poulsen