POETS' DAYS In LOM,
Norway: 4-7 AUGUST 2005
"I marken har hver årstid
sine undere, men altid og uforanderlig den tunge,
umåtelige lyd fra himmel og jord, omringelsen til alle
kanter; skogmørket, trærnes venlighet. Alt er tungt og
bløtt, ingen tanker er umulig der." Knut Hamsun
(In the fields every season has
it's wonders, but always and eternal the heavy mighty
sound from heaven and earth, surrounding from all sides;
the darkness of the forest, the kindness of the trees.
All is heavy and soft, no thought is impossible there.
Knut Hamsun, Growth of the Soil)
Full of anticipation I started
"Nagel" my yellow Polo in Karlsruhe and headed
north. Endless kilometres lay ahead of me, but in Lom a
programme with exciting experiences in a splendid nature
waited. Denmark was approached listening to the radio on
political problem in Germany. Within reach of the Danish
radio stations it was also political debates and that
late in the night.
After a couple of happy days at my sisters' course was
set for Frederikshavn and the ferry to Larvik. All went
fine, apart from little sleep on the ferry even in the
luxurious cabin. The sea was calm, but the ship was alive
with all kinds of noise from happy passengers, who were
of the opinion that sleep one can do at home. But a good
book is always good company. There is no place so
beautiful to drive as in Norway, I enjoyed the landscape
to the full. There was plenty of time for stops, where I
enjoyed the fresh Norwegian air and "Nagel" had
a rest, it purred happily away on it's 4 new tyres, new
brake linings and new exhaust, it had been more
expensively dressed for the trip than I, who had bought
only two new blouses. Norway must be the country with the
most speed checks, though none blinked at me during my
way up the beautiful valley of Gudbrandsdal. I have
always the feeling of home every time I come to Norway,
as if the entire landscape is something warm and familiar
though I come from the flat Denmark where the highest
peak is around 170 meters high. In the evening arrival at
Garmo close to Lom where the hospitable Torunn Kjøk and
I immediately started to discuss the subject Hamsun and
to enjoy delicious breads and different kinds of meats.
4th August, Knut Hamsun's 146 years birthday
"-du er en juvel midt i prikken på tiden!"
(Segelfoss by) (you are a jewel in the point of time,
Segelfoss Town ) and the Poets' Days started. Well, first
point on the agenda I could not partake in: 5 hours
literary hiking in the beautiful nature, really a
terrific idea, that is if one has not a damaged ligament.
Instead I visited Knut Hamsun's birthplace, a good
feeling to be here on such a day. I naturally relieved
the kind young guide from having to tell me about Knut
Hamsun, I said I knew him fairly well!
Then some nice hours were spent in Lom
together with legions of tourists, yes Lom is a very
popular and lavish town. The mountains are shining all
around me and mirrored in the Lom Lake. The weather was
still nice, sun a few clouds and 18 - 19°; a warm feeling of anticipation grew within me.
Leif Hamsun arrived around 6pm to
Torunn's. After a splendid dinner we walked the few
hundred meters to Garmostræet, where a small birthday
celebration took place. Torunn Kjøk bid welcome, Knut
Kjøk played his violin and then Leif Hamsun took us
through the historic events around the erection of the
menhir, said some beautiful, carefully chosen word on his
grandfather and laid a wreath at the menhir, beautiful
and solemn hours.
Knut Kjøk Leif Hamsun
Then the participants had the
opportunity to a chat. There is a special atmosphere here
where Hamsun made his first footsteps, said his first
words which were stored in a mind so quivering and
sensitive. I sensed an invisible echo as though Hamsun's
voice still may be heard in the fells.
"Min frøken, det er dem jeg
fortæller for, sa han så alle hørte det. De står som
et sølvkors i solen. Det er ikke bare Deres skjønhet
som er så stor, men det er Deres ungdom, Deres dejlige
ungdom. De beruser mig med den og jeg blir gal etter den.
Se nu Deres armer, hvor det er blod under huden på
(My Lady, it is You to whom I am
talking, he said so everybody could hear it. You are
standing there like a silver cross in the sunshine. It is
not only your beauty which is so grand, but it is your
youth, your lovely youth. You intoxicate me with it and I
crave for it. Look at your arms, how there is blood under
the skin (The Conqueror) Collected poems.)
Back at Torunn's place again, where the
mayor Simen Bjørken and a dear Hamsun fiend Ole Bjerke
had joined us, we chatted away over red wine and local
foods. There is so much to discuss, when one meets at
5th August. Start of the literary seminar at 9
o`clock, a large and interesting programme.
Professor Tore Pryser: 1905, nationwide and locally. A
current and very interesting theme.
The author Sigrun Slapgard: Sigrid Undset and the Second
World War. In two years Sigrun Slapgard's biography on
Sigrid Undset will be published, I am looking forward to
read this, she was, if any, a very controversial
character with sharp and pointed opinions.
VAR DET JEG
Livet har vist budt mig gaver
som jeg ikke tok imot -.
Jeg blev bedt, og jeg blev lovet
-det var jeg, som ei forstod.
Var det slik, jeg kom til målet,
gik forbi og ikke så det?
Jeg har gåt for langt og længe,
og nu kan jeg ikke nå det.
Er det mørkt, fordi jeg ikke
flammen på min lampe nærte -?
Fryser jeg, fordi jeg bærer
kulden i mit eget hjerte -?
The author Olaug Nilssen: The literary
heritage of the new Norwegian language - an obstruction
or a trampoline for high jumps?
Professor Håvard Teigen: The Lom-society in 1945 and
Mogning i mørket (Dung in the dark) by Tor Jonsson.
At 6pm "Jest and seriousness" was on the
programme in Lom bygdehus. A completely full hall saw Jon
Eikemo in words and music, an interesting programme with
a.o. poetry by Tor Jonsson, Per Sivle and Jakob Sande.
Edvard Hoem then held an interesting lecture on:
"1905 - worth remembering?". Hoem concluded his
excellent speech by urging people, national and
international politicians to look further ahead than just
to secure business but to work for a global community to
promote the best in all nations.
Then there was recitation from the writing contest for
young people. Two short stories and two poems were
presented, all incredible sensitive and well written.
The evening was concluded with a "Poets dinner"
at Fossheim hotel with a fit Ingar Kolloen as
Kjøgemeister, as a compère is called in Norwegian. The
author Olaug Nilssen: Småretter (Tapas), no it was not
food but poetry. Music: Aslak Opsahl Brimi. It is
incredible how many excellent folk musicians who live in
We had an excellent røya as first course. This initiated
a long discussion with my neighbour Leif Fiske, what a
røye is called in Danish. I thought norsk fjeldørred
and according to literature this is the right danish name
whereas an ørred in Denmark is called bækørred. In
total an excellent evening with treats for eyes, ears and
senses. One continues to get wiser, not only regarding
"Vi er allesammen på reise til et land som vi
kommer tidsnok til". Paa Gjengrodde stier.
(We are all on journey to a country, to where we will
soon enough arrive. On overgrown Paths).
6th August. Lawyer Cato Schiøtz: Gjensyn med
landsviksakene mot Knut Hamsun (The treason trials
against Hamsun revisited), an exciting explanation of the
After Ingar's book the publishing house Gyldendal had
launched an investigation of the case and had published
the outcome as their Christmas present, a good idea. The
conclusion of the investigation was, that Hamsun had not
benefited from the doubt about his membership of NS,
which was the cause of the claim for damages trial; but
had a criminal case been raised instead, the outcome
would probably have been the same: A high fine.
I do not know why, but time flies every time I listen to
sensible ideas on Hamsun.
Then it was Ingar Sletten Kolloen's turn and he told in
his usual fluent style about Hamsun - the war and the
peace. It was indeed a fruitful morning.
Lecturer and author Nazneen Kahn: To be a muslim in
Norway. Again a topic of current interest. The weather
was dry but cool. Yes, I managed to sit outside drinking
coffee and having sandwiches with the tough Vikings, but
I was freezing cold.
After having walked around in the city among tourists and
rain showers, we met in the afternoon at the Tor Jonsson
house, where I after having seen the small rooms tried to
imagine how this particular man had lived and then went
outside in the fine rain to listen to Håvard Teigen, who
held this year's Tor Jonsson lecture.
Many of the poems I know now, for example these fine and
"Nærast er du når du er
Noko blir borte når du er nær.
Dette kallar eg kjærleik.
Eg veit ikkje kva det er."
(You are closest to me when you are
away / something disappears when you are close / this I
call love / I do not know what it is.)
We now had several offers: Marlo
Gredahus, Theatre group of U.L.Fram: Brurekrona (The
bridal wreath) by Tore Ørjasæter.
In Jan Magnus Bruheim and Tore Ørjasæter's country.
Guided by Bård Hanem, starting from Marlo Grendahus.
Sota Sæter: Rømmegraut og spekemat (Traditional
Norwegian food). Folk music and poetry recitals. Aslak
Opsahl Brimi, Linda Gytri and Yngve Aukrust. The music I
would have loved, but the food and my fastidiousness were
Lom Stavkyrkje. Narrator Tone Bolstad Fløde - A story in
words and music with excerpts from Stavkjerringa by Vera
Henriksen, who was present in the church.
Yes, many tempting offers, but my choice was Fossberg
Hotel: Literary night-bath, hosted by journalist Ingolf
Håkon Teigene. Three central Norwegian authors telling
about the books they were publishing this autumn
including Olaug Nilssen and Levi Henriksen.
And as usual I had good and long talks about Hamsun.
It was not only raining, it was raining cats and dogs.
Now the day came, that I had anticipated and feared at
the same time: The days where I had to give my lecture.
Had I been an early riser I could at 9am have heard
Professor Asbjørn Aarnes at Nordgard Aukrust telling
about Olav Aukrust's poetry with musical features by
Synnøve Rognlien, but at that time I was still having my
morning tea at Torunn's looking out at threatening rain
clouds with occasional showers, for the moment it was not
easy to understand why Lom is called Norway's Sahara.
Instead I treated myself to some of Olav Aukrust's
beautiful verses from his collection of poems:
DJUPNI OG HØGDI
Staa paa det ytste stup,
stire n'i vanvit-sinnet,
kjenne det sugande djup
ottast at draken skal vinne -
kjenne den glyfsane eld fraa eit gloande
kjenne det dragande sog fraa eit sjodande
Himalaja ris over hav
kløyvande skoddi og vinden.
Og Golgatha ris over grav.
Og elsken nærer sitt liv under sorger
so tunge som Hav,
og himmelhøg kjærleiken ris over
vanvit og rædsle og grav.
An unusual and beautiful experience now
awaited us, the open-air service on the grounds, where
the old Garmo stave-church stood before it was moved to
A soft rain and an equally soft light brought out a very
Leif Hamsun and Torunn Kjøk
Under the cover of our
umbrellas we listened to vicar Rolf Steffensen from
Hamarøy, who spoke from Luke 18.9-14, his warm and
personal words went straight to our hearts. It was an
incredible warm feeling to be exactly here, where Knut
Hamsun was baptised, as though the years faded and we
were there in our minds.
Rolf Steffensen and Knut Kjøk
Then it was my turn. The weather was
certainly not for an open-air event, so instead of the
garden on the farm above Garmotræet where Knut Hamsun
was born, the living rooms were cleared and we all
swarmed into the warm and cosy rooms and were treated to
coffee and cake.
Kirsten Hedvig Rasmussen, Knut Kjøk and
Torunn Kjøk bid us welcome and Knut
Kjøk og Dag Gården created a warm atmosphere with their
beautiful music and Torunn Kjøk's fine words. Then I
sprinkled my Danish words and my fascination about Hamsun
over the audience. You may read the lecture in extenso
here (Danish version only): My lecture.
The Poets' Days had now come to an end. Many many thanks
to Torunn Kjøk and the Hamsun Society in Lom as well as
to the Tor Jonsson Society for the excellent programme,
yes I will certainly be in Lom next time in two years.
IBSEN AND HAMSUN DAYS IN GRIMSTAD: 11-14 AUGUST 2005
Time had come to say good bye to Torunn
and Garmo, in mixed weather, sunshine and threatening
rain clouds, I set out for southern Norway, for Grimstad,
where Ibsen and Hamsun again will be united to the
pleasure of all of us.
Yes, the mood is set for the upcoming Ibsen and Hamsun
11th August was the opening night with Ibsen's "En
folkefiende". Dramatised recital with Bjarte
Hjelmeland, Per Chr. Ellefsen, Kjersti Elvik and Jan
Martin Johnsen. Thereafter a debate on "Freedom of
Speech". Yes, it sounded very very interesting, but
I also had an invitation to the vernissage of Bengt
Petter Hanssen's exhibition, inspired by Knut Hamsun's
"Det vilde kor" in Riemannsgården and this was
so tempting, that I immediately knew what to chose. Do I
have to chose between Hamsun and Ibsen, then - sorry
Ibsen - I knew what I chose.
With plenty of time to go on "Nagel" and I
started from Marianne's place towards Grimstad. Now, I
have mastered Marianne's private uneven gravel/stone path
many times and I had completely new tyres, but after
close encounter with a sharp stone the right front tyre
was flat! There I stood with Gert's words in my ears:
What are you going to do if you get a flat tyre? Well,
what did I do? Right, called good friends, who fetched
me, the car we could take care of later.
We reached the vernissage in due time,
where Reidar Marmøy said many wise and personal words to
Bengt. And the paintings? Yes, they were excellent, it
was as though the female figures broke out of their
frames and into the poems:
O væk mig i
morgen, du blanke Sol
for Lina er tidlig på Fode
med sin rive på Engen ud,
en Særk og et Skørt er den Piges Skrud,
men Øiet er
blaat som den blå Viol
og kruset og bart hendes hode.
De Fodspor i
Duggen gir god Besked
jeg følger dem
lige til Grinden.
God Morgen min Pige, idag som igaar!
Da lyder en
Kalden, hun ryger adsted,
men kysser mig gerne forinden.
Jeg takker dig
Lina. for alt jeg fik,
hver Morgen med Sol i Østen.
Vel kaldes du
bort når den Kalden lød,
for Lina, det var
jo din kærest du snød.
Men mig gav du
Lov med dit første Nikk -
med ham staar du brud til Høsten.
Having filled eyes and senses, hunger
was also taken care of. Over cheese, biscuits, wine and
water we had long chats, all Norwegians laugh about the
Danish word for chat "snak". Then Reidar and I
drove out to "Nagel", who patiently waited for
a new tyre and exactly at this moment it started raining!
However, it did not bother Reidar, we changed the wheel
and even looked happy and satisfied! Back to his place
for a cup of coffee before I returned to Marianne on one
funny thin spare wheel, that must be changed. Next day's
programme: A visit to a garage.
After a good night's sleep I was ready for new
experiences. "Nagel" was parked in a garage and
I went on foot to the city centre, where the Hamsun
friends had begun to arrive. I had planned to participate
in the "literary café" and an exciting
programme with professor Bjørn Hemmer in debate with
Steinar Berthelsen, Åmund Feidje and Per Chr. Ellefsen
on radio theatre. But instead I dropped in at another
kind of café discussion with Hamsun friends, it is such
a nice warm feeling every time we meet, which must
originate from our mutual love for and interest in
At 1pm an exciting excursion was scheduled, "In Knut
Hamsun's footsteps over Mølleheia towards the letter
box", with Bjørn Kristian Pedersen as guide.
I went with the large group to the starting point at the
old infirmary, where I met Torunn, who had arrived from
Garmo and Uwe from Marburg. I looked enviously after them
as they started the ascent, but my ankle refused to
participate after the damaged ligament two months ago. I
have done the hike many times before, so it was ok.
Instead I was invited by Mons Fuhr to visit his wine
cellar with Hamsun wine and books with Hamsun's
inscriptions. A nice small experience. Then I had time to
pick up Nagel from the garage against the nominal fee of
1000 Nkr. before I joined the others. By the time there
was now so many well known faces. And the weather was
nice; in splendid sunshine we sat outside to enjoy a
small lunch, but that idea many others also had, so it
was chaotic at the bar the orders were taken.
Then the next larger event was due. Together with
incredible many others we lined up on the lawn before
Riemannsgården to listen to Kjell Stormoen reciting from
"On overgrown Paths". Marianne Hamsun had
joined us and listened to the well-known story, which
sounds equally fresh and young every time:
"Men en dag har jeg ingen
cigar mere, hvad så? Da slutter jeg å røke, slutter.
Det har jeg gjort tre ganger før, et år om gangen, fra
dato til dato. Jeg vil være såpass herre over meg selv
at jeg slutter. Godt. Men jeg begynder jo igjen, hvad er
da det hele til? Jeg vil være såpas herre over meg selv
at jeg også begynder igjen." Paa gjengrodde stier.
(But one day I have no cigar any more,
what then? Then I stop smoking, stop. I have done this
three times before, one year at a time, from date to
date. I want to be so much my own master that I stop.
Well. But I do start again, was it all in vain? I want to
be so much my own master that I start again. On overgrown
It was as though Knut Hamsun spoke
directly to us through Stormoen's voice. An incredible
After a musical intermezzo Reidar
Marmøy made a warm address first to Kjell Stormoen and
then to Bengt Petter, nobody can as Reidar say exactly
the right and warm words. The exhibition was thus
officially opened and people swarmed in, yes they had to
be let in by numbers so many were there and people were
willing to buy. Soon small red stickers beamed next to
most of the paintings.
The rest of the evening was spent in the company of all
the Hamsun friends, where some also went to the last
event at 10.30pm at Kirkeheia, where Chr. Ellefsen read
"Fairytales at night". The sky was black and
warm and the atmosphere fanciful but I stayed away as it
was fairytales by H.C.Andersen that were being recited
and I am allergic to this poet named Andersen!
I must admit it was a little late before I drove out to
Marianne to sleep, sending prayers to "Nagel's"
new tyres and the stone on the road. We arrived safely.
Still beautiful weather and the new day offers many
events, first at the town hall.
The packed hall was ready
for new experiences. First the verdict of the supreme
court against Knut Hamsun, by Cato Schiøtz, an
experiences, that I just had in Lom, but still
interesting and the conclusion given with all due
"at alle spørgsmål
om tvivl ikke kom Hamsun til gode, og vi mener at Hamsun
ikke var medlem af NS. Som vi ser det skulle han have
nydt godt om det faktum at der var tvivl om det",
sagde Schiøtz. "Men hvis der var blevet straffesag?
Han havde næppe havnet i fængsel. Men kanske han havde
fået 325.000 kr i bøde, og på den baggrund var dommen
i erstatningssagen ikke urimelig."
(that all questions of
doubt were not considered and that we consider Hamsun not
having been member of NS. As we see it, he should have
benefited from the fact that doubt remained, said
Schiøtz. But if a criminal case had been raised? He
would probably not have been sentenced to jail. But he
had possibly been fined 325.000NKr and seen in that
perspective the actual verdict in the claim for damage
case was not unreasonable:)
"Jeg holder det almindelige
omdømme nokså høyt. Jeg holder vårt norske rettsvesen
enda høyere, men jeg holder det ikke så høyt som jeg
holder min egen bevissthet om hva som er godt og ondt,
hva som er rett og galt. Jeg er gammel nok til å ha en
rettesnor for mig selv, og dette er min." Paa gjengrodde stier.
(I respect the common sense. I respect
our Norwegian judicial system even higher, but I do not
respect it so much as I respect my own sense of what is
good and bad, what is right and wrong. I am old enough to
have a moral standard for myself, and this is mine. On
"Hang the child murderess!"
was the title of the next exciting lecture. Karinna
Bjellås Gilje shared with us her knowledge on Knut
Hamsun as a polemic and newspaper debater based on her
dissertation on Hamsun's writings in 1915. A very
exciting theme, which has been mentioned rarely in
previous seminars. Nobody could like Hamsun use strong
words when he once got started. And give in in a debate -
never! One has to read his novels like "Growth of
the Soil" from 1917 to get the detailed,
understanding and caring Hamsun.
Karinna Bjellås Gilje and Kirsten
Hedvig Rasmussen (Photo: Karin Engh, Grimstad
Four Hamsun biographers!
Robert Ferguson, Lars Frode Larsen, Ingar Sletten Kolloen
and Jørgen Haugan in a debate hosted by Rolf Steffensen.
What an excellent idea to get the four together and
brought forward their differences and different opinions
on Hamsun, carefully guided by Rolf Steffensen. Yes, one
got to know the different opinions on Hamsun, but even
more one got to know the biographers' own personalities.
Robert Ferguson, Lars Frode Larsen,
Ingar Sletten Kolloen and Jørgen Haugan (from left)
Time for a lunch break and a chat in
the fine weather before we all caught the bus and boat to
Kvaløya, where marine biologist Per Bie Wikander
discoursed on "On two feet Water". What a
pleasure to sit here with coffee and waffles and the most
adoring view of the idyllic small houses spread over the
archipelago and the boats swaying in the moorings with
flapping flags. A perfect idyll, and off course I had
forgotten my camera!
We sat on stones in the waterline and up the fells, it
probably looked like birds on a fell.
We now listened, many with tears in their eyes, to Monica
Hjelle reciting the famous "Terje Vigen". It is
moving every time we hear it!
I though how it must have been hearing Knut Hamsun recite
Terje Vigen!! Yes, he has really done it! We must thank
Johan Filseth for recording this episode.
During the First World War and before Hamsun was awarded
the Nobel Price, Filseth wrote about Hamsun in Toten. In
the newspaper Aftenposten 5th February 1916 we find:
"During Christmas 1881 I had
decided to visit my old mother in Frøisland, and I asked
Hamsun if he would join me. He accepted and in the most
beautiful weather we had an excellent sleigh ride.
At Frøisland everybody liked Hamsun, and especially my
mother adored him. In a party where many guest were
invited , I asked him to recite something for us.
"Where should I stand?" he asked.
"Step up on this stool," I said and so he did.
Then he recited "Terje Vigen", so tears came to
the eyes of many of the women."
Here are the last verses of "Terje
Lorden kom, og mylady med,
og mange, mange med dem;
de rysted hans hånd til farvel og Guds fred,
der de stod i hans ringe hjem.
De takked for frelsen da stormen peb,
for frelsen fra sjøgang og skær;
men Terje strøg over barnets slæb:
"nej, den som frelste, da værst det kneb, det var
nok den lille der?" - -
Da yachten drejed for Hesnæs-sund,
den reiste det norske flag.
Lidt længere vest er en skumklædt grund, -
der gav den det glatte lag.
Da tindred en tåre i Terjes blik;
han stirred fra hejen ud:
"stort har jeg mistet, men stort jeg fik.
Bedst var det,kanhænde, det gik som det gik,-
og så får du ha'e tak da, Gud!"
Yes, Hamsun knew Ibsen's works and
liked him, otherwise he would hardly have chosen exactly
Terje Vigen!! Hamsun was and remains an enigma, and
Then some of us were invited for a cruise onboard S/S
Solvik, where our hunger and thirst were satisfied by
fish, sandwiches, ham, water and wine.
After an unforgettable afternoon we landed again in
Grimstad and went to Apotekergården to se "Ibsen's
collected works in 68 minutes" a humorous
thoroughfare with Monica Hjelle, Bjarte Hjelmeland and
Jan Martin Johnsen. Music by Stian Carstensen. An
incredibly funny and intelligent performance.
Last day and last point on the agenda: "While we are
waiting". And what a finale, Reidar Marmøy took us
on a literary hike and told about the philosophy behind
the pictures and the artist's interpretation of some of
Knut Hamsun's poems from "Det vilde kor". A
very intense and giving experience.
Time had come to say good-bye to Marianne Hamsun.
Saturated with experiences "Nagel" and I set
course for the ferry Kristiansand - Hirtshals and ended
at my sisters'.
After loading home-grown potatoes, carrots, onions and
good wishes I said good-bye to all two- and four-legs and
After the well known journey on the motorway I landed
safely home in Karlsruhe.
Again there were so many and
unforgettable experiences, many many thanks to Ola
Veigaard and the Hamsun Society in Grimstad as well as to
the Ibsen Society for an incredibly exciting programme,
which enriched our minds and made us a little bit wiser.
We are looking so much forward to return for the next