Postcards from Sumer

Danish. A free rendition of Enheduana’s Exaltation of Inana, commissioned by Shëkufe Tadayoni Heiberg for the indie press Forlaget Uro. The eighteen sections of the translation are printed on separate postcards, lavishly illustrated by artist Johanne Helga Heiberg Johansen, to recreate the sense of how ancient poetry arrives in the present: as snippets of a message from a far-off place, often fragmentary and decontextualised, but full of tantalizing images we can look at in wonder.

Dronning over verdens magter, illustrated by Johanne Helga Heiberg Johansen, 2020, Hvidovre: Forlaget Uro. Link.

Prismatic Sappho

Danish. A review of two new Danish translations of Sappho, which appeared simultaneously: using Matthew Reynolds’s metaphor of prismatic translation, the review shows how the translations bring out different wavelengths of the ancient fragments. Sappho’s poems appear as, respectively, relics of a lost aristocracy and icons of a living LGBTQ community. 

“Længselsstemmen fra Lesbos” (“The longing-voice from Lesbos”), Weekendavisen (November 2020). Link.

A forgotten philosopher

Danish. If you’ve ever heard of a Danish philosopher, it’s probably Søren Kierkegaard. But 500 years before him, Boethius of Dacia reached a remarkably similar conclusion: that faith is both illogical and true. But to Boethius, the pagan philosophy of Aristotle and Ibn Rushd was more important to study than Christian dogma, making him and his disciples a target for one of the most sweeping persecutions of intellectuals in the European Middle Ages.

“Kender du heller ikke Boethius? Her er den store danske filosof, du aldrig har hørt om” (“You don’t know Boethius either? Here is the greatest Danish philosopher you’ve never heard of”), Politiken Historie (October 2020). Link.

Around the canon

Danish. Written for the outreach project “Kvinder rundt om kanon” (“Women around the canon”), which sought to map key female authors from the non-Western world, this short blog posts presents Enheduana’s life and works to a Danish audience.

“Den første kendte forfatter var en kvinde” (“The first known author was a woman”), Kvinder rundt om kanon, hosted by Aaby Library (June 2020). Link.

On the edge of the canon

Danish. Written for a special issue on literary revivals, the essay discusses why the new Danish translation of Gilgamesh has garnered so much attention. As a key example of a literary revival, the translation combined the appeal of a new and unknown poem with that of a foundational and time-tested classic.

“‘Gilgamesh’: På kanten af kanon” (“‘Gilgamesh’: At the edge of the canon”), Standart, vol. 33, no. 2 (July 2019), pp. 42–43.

Translation in the singular

Danish. Translating ancient texts is a process of simplification: many manuscripts, variants, and versions are compressed into one book. But in turn, that book leads to many different encounters with the text, and can even occasion new and varied adaptations of it. In short, translation is an hourglass-like movement of condensation and expansion.

“‘Gilgamesh i ental” (“‘Gilgamesh’ in the singular”), Babelfisken (April 2019). Link.

Gilgamesh in Danish

The book is a new Danish translation of Gilgamesh, published in cooperation with the Danish poet (and my father) Morten Søndergaard. The translation employs a novel system to represent breaks in the text, a raised dot, devised by Åse Eg and Wrong Studio. Here you will tablet I of the translation.

With Morten Søndergaard, Gilgamesh, 2019, Copenhagen: Gyldendal.

Climate change and history

Danish. The essay situates the current climate crisis in a broader historical context, examining our cultural experience of living through a “historical moment,” as well as the clashing time of climate change activism, which call for both fast-paced and long-sighted action at the same time.

“Klimaforandringerne har en fordel: Det historiske øjeblik tvinger os til at drømme” (“There is an upside to climate change: The historical moment forces us to dream”), Zetland (January 2019). Link.

Open letter on climate

In November 2018, I co-wrote an open letter to the management of Danish universities, calling for them to implement immediate, ambitious and long-term climate-friendly policies. The letter was signed by more than 700 researchers at Danish universities.

With Marc Malmdorf Andersen, “Let us show the way towards a more ambitious climate agenda,” open letter to Danish universities (November 2018). English version. Danish version.