Morten Søndergaard Interview: A Pharmacy of Words



“Pronouns© have severe side effects.” Watch one of Denmark’s most thrilling poets, Morten Søndergaard, discuss his fascinating and humorous project ‘Wordpharmacy’, which takes grammar to a new level by combining it with medicine.

Søndergaard argues that making a thing physical improves the understanding of it, as it becomes more tangible: “What the project does is to make words three-dimensional.” In the Wordpharmacy, pronouns are modelled on psychoactive drugs, just as adjectives are based on lice shampoo “since adjectives© are dependent on other creatures such as nouns in order to survive.”

People’s reaction to the project – and the dialogue it brings with it – is what Søndergaard treasures the most: “No one wants medicine or grammar, but when you combine the two, people seem to be interested.”

Morten Søndergaard (b. 1964) is a Danish poet, translator, sound artist and literary editor. His first collection of poetry ‘Sahara i mine hænder’ (Sahara in My Hands) was published in 1992, and has been followed by a succession of critically acclaimed books such as ‘Bier dør sovende’ (Bees Die Sleeping) (1998), ‘Vinci, Senere’ (Vinci, Later) (2002), ‘Processen og det halve kongerige’ (The Process and Half the Kingdom) (2010) and ‘Fordele og ulemper ved at udvikle vinger’ (Pros and Cons of Developing Wings) (2013). He has been nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize twice – in 2003 and 2007. Alongside his written publications, Søndergaard has also done musical and dramatic works as well as recordings, exhibitions and installations centring on language and sound.

The Wordpharmacy (Ordapoteket) combines medicine and grammar. It consists of ten linguistic medicine packages, one for each of the ten word classes. The ten different packages contain a leaflet, which functions as an instructional poem – read about side-effects, the dangers of overdose and general usage of the given word class, such as whether or not you can use prepositions© if you’re pregnant.

For more about Morten Søndergaard and the Wordpharmacy see: http://mortensondergaard.net/ and www.wordpharmacy.com

Morten Søndergaard was interviewed by Christian Lund at Hardy Tree Gallery in London in April 2014. Thanks to Steven Fowlers and Cameron Maxwell.

Camera: Matthias Pilz
Edited by: Miriam Nielsen
Produced by: Christian Lund
Design of the Wordpharmacy-boxes: Christian Ramsø
Translation of the Wordpharmacy: Barbara Haveland
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2015

Supported by Nordea-fonden

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