“Leonard Cohen once said in an interview something like: ‘If I knew where inspiration came from I would go there more often.’ I would to God, too!” says Danish poet Ulrikka Gernes.
Instead, “Most of the time is spent trying to uncover the poem, lure it out of his hiding place, to get ready for the poem. It’s like living in a kind of constant alert.”
That state of alert has paid off for Ulrikka and her grateful readers in twelve highly-acclaimed collections of poetry and two books for children, as well as many short stories, songs, and various contributions to literary anthologies, art catalogues, magazines, and newspapers.
Passionate, evocative, and dense with symbolism, her work has garnered high praise in Denmark since the publication of her first collection Natsvaermer (Moth) in 1984, when she was only eighteen.
“Poetry can offer a kind of asylum, a kind of protection from all the other languages that are constantly screaming and shouting into our faces,” she says. “And [it] can give us an inner strength, a shield, an ability to hear our own inner voices. In that sense…one could call poetry a resistance movement.”
The daughter of a renowned visual artist, for many years Ulrikka has collaborated with avant-garde composers, painters, and videographers to create multi-layered installations and performances.
In 2001, A Sudden Sky, her selected poems was translated into English by Per Brask and Patrick Friesen and published in Canada by Brick Books. This year, Brick brings us a new collection, Frayed Opus for Strings & Wind Instruments, a dazzling work that zooms from lit bicycle sheds in the back yard to typhoons in Hong Kong. With probing intelligence and the wit and musicality promised by her title, Ulrikka probes the specifics of what it means to be alive in our unfathomable universe.
Over the years, Ulrikka has traveled widely throughout Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, living for a time in Hong Kong. She currently lives in Copenhagen.