Outgoing Vessel (excerpt)

Ursula Andkjær Olsen
Translated from the Danish by Katrine Øgaard Jensen

those who say that wateris doing grief's workback and forth:grief-enhancinggrief-inhibitingsuppression-enhancingsuppression-inhibitingwashingmassagingtouchingcradlingletting it stream throughTHEY'RE LYING those who say:a life endslike grass tread flata scent at the border of consciousnessTHEY'RE LYING a desert of nondegradabilitya desert of uselessnessin that i trustin the desert lies a pyramidin the pyramid lies a sarcophagusin the sarcophagus lies an orbWHICH is the foundation of all future lifeWHICH is the new path to the necessary virginity a shaftmy own shaft of longingwith my own shaft of lossi'II wait for you by the elevator

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Picture of Poet Ursula Andkjær Olsen

Ursula Andkjær Olsen (b. 1970) made her literary debut in 2000 and has since published nine collections of poetry and one novel, in addition to several dramatic texts and libretti for operas such as Danish composer Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen’s Sol går op, sol går ned, and composer Peter Bruun’s Miki Alone, which was awarded the Nordic Council Music Prize in 2008. Olsen has received numerous awards for her work, including the Danish Arts Foundation’s Award of Distinction in 2017, the 2012 Montanaprisen award for Det 3. årtusindes hjerte (Third-Millennium Heart, Broken Dimanche Press/Action Books 2017), and the 2015 Danish Critics Prize for Literature for Udgående fartøj (Outgoing Vessel, Action Books 2021). Since 2019, Olsen has served as head of The Danish Academy of Creative Writing. Her latest poetry collection, Mit Smykkeskrin (My Jewel Box), was published by Gyldendal in January 2020.

Image of katrine øgaard jensen

Katrine Øgaard Jensen (b. 1988) is a poet and translator from the Danish. She is a recipient of several fellowships and awards, including the 2018 National Translation Award in Poetry for her translation of Ursula Andkjær Olsen’s book-length poem, Third-Millennium Heart (Broken Dimanche Press/Action Books 2017). She teaches creative writing and literary translation at Columbia University, where she served as Acting Director of LTAC (Literary Translation at Columbia) from 2019-2020.

Olsen’s narration shifts from technical incisiveness to slangy humor, orbiting centers of intense hurt.
—K. B. Thors, Harvard Review

Through the course of Outgoing Vessel we witness the speaker’s emergence as a voice of concern, intent on invalidating loneliness—through her outgoing/incoming vessel she comes to a radicalizing understanding of empathy and experience.
—Joseph Schreiber

This intoxicating and terrifying poem (or many poems) is a meditation humming with repeated mantras of feminist poetics, words inside of words inside of pages inside of the book held inside your hands.
Kenyon Review

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