Writer Jón Kalman Stefánsson: Poetry Makes Prose Deeper | Louisiana Channel

Acclaimed Icelandic writer Jón Kalman Stefánsson shares insights into his creative journey and the intersection of poetry and prose. Stefánsson, known for his evocative storytelling, reveals how poetry has profoundly influenced his prose writing.

Stefánsson began his literary career as a poet, emphasizing the significant role poetry plays in shaping his approach to storytelling. Reflecting on his early aspirations, he admits, “I only wanted to be a poet.” However, he discovered a latent talent for prose, leading to a fusion of poetic elements into his narrative style.

Throughout the interview, Stefánsson discusses the symbiotic relationship between poetry and prose, highlighting how poetry infuses his prose with depth and emotion. He asserts, “A good poem is the deepest and best thing we can imagine,” illustrating the profound impact of poetry on his creative process.

Drawing inspiration from literary figures like Friedrich Hölderlin, Stefánsson delves into the transformative power of language, weaving together themes of love, mortality, and the human condition in his works. He explores the dual nature of love, its beauty, and its brutality, emphasizing its omnipresence in literature. Stefánsson elucidates the multifaceted nature of storytelling, highlighting its capacity to transcend boundaries and evoke introspection. “It’s possible to change not the world, but to influence the reader in so many ways,” he reflects.

As Stefánsson delves into the complexities of life and literature, he shares his belief in the importance of introspection and self-reflection. He challenges readers to examine their own lives and aspirations, echoing the timeless role of poetry in prompting existential inquiry.

Jón Kalman Stefánsson was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1963. He is a highly acclaimed writer known for his poetic prose and evocative storytelling. Stefánsson’s literary career began with poetry, but he later transitioned to prose, becoming renowned for his novels that blend poetic language with profound themes. Some of his most important achievements include the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize for “Heaven and Hell,” the Icelandic Literary Prize for “Summer Light, and then Comes the Night,” and international acclaim for his trilogy “Heaven and Hell,” “The Sorrow of Angels,” and “The Heart of Man.” He lives in Reykjavík, Iceland.

Kim Skotte interviewed Jón Kalman Stefánsson in connection with the Louisiana Literature festival in August 2022 at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

Camera: Simon Wehye
Edit: Signe Boe Pedersen
Produced by Christian Lund

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2024
Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling and Fritz Hansen.

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