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Writing a few words on an empty piece of paper can be the most difficult thing. The choices of words, constructions, meanings are endless. It seems like an impossible act to write anything of meaning. And yet, when you read a text that just flows it seems so easy. The choices of words and how they are put together becomes like a magic formula that touches your soul.
In the daily Dagens Nyheter last spring (27/4 2013), literary critic Åsa Beckman did an open analysis of one of Swedish poet Birger Sjöberg’s (1885–1929) poems: Varje ord skall andas (my translation: Every word shall breathe). The poem is a beautiful text on the meaning of each word and how they should breathe, live, be strong. ”At attention, each phrase!”, he writes.
Perhaps this is when words become so dangerous to some.
Two Persian poets are now in prison in Iran for what they write; Fateme Ekhtesari and Mehdi Moosavi. And they are not the only ones. ”Poets are highly dangerous”, says the Chair of the Swedish PEN Association, Ola Larsmo, recently in the daily Göteborgs-Posten.
In many of the world’s dictatorships writers, poets, journalists are in prison. The situation for writers around the world has worsened, Ola Larsmo states.
Let the new year of 2014 be the year when they are all set free.
Poem by Birger Sjöberg:
Varje ord skall andas
Varje ord skall andas och sin bröstkorg häva,
varje sats skall kunna ränna kring och stå,
skyldra, gå på tå,
svimma, trängta, sväva.
Det är ej så lätt, att liv av prickar väva,
att i typers prassliga små buskar
låta friska kinder sticka fram.
En sats skall ju bli ett träd, som ruskar,
en en fisk, som spritter,
en ett fågelkvitter,
en en sorgehögtid allvarsam.
Nu giv akt, vart ord!
Dra ej med er slarviga soldater.
Samlas på mitt bord,
alla, friska, starka, levande kamrater.
And a try for a quick translation, without any claim of poetic qualities but just for the English speaking readers to get an idea of the content of the poem:
Every word shall breathe
Every word shall breathe and its chest heave/every sentence shall run around and stow/arms present, tip on toe/faint, yearn, leave/It is not so easy, to life in dots weave/to in types’ rustly small bushes/let fresh cheeks stick out brave/Why a sentence shall be a tree, that swooshes/one a fish, that jitter/one a bird twitter/one a mourning sermon so grave/Now, stand at attention, each phrase!/Don’t pull with you careless soldiers/At my table embrace/all, healthy, strong, living comrades.
A study from the Arts Grant Committee (2010) showed that women within art generally have lower income than their male colleagues. Men’s part of income also increases with higher income figures.
At the same time, women within the art field are more highly educated than their male colleagues, and in comparison with women in the population as a whole.
Looking at income the following are shown.
Visual art have the lowest salaries and are dominated by women, while music has the next highest median income level – and to 70% consists of men. Theatre seems to be the most gender balanced art form with the highest median income level, but also the art form with highest differences in salary due to gender.
A lot more needs to be done when it comes to equality within art and culture, something that the New York-based group Guerrilla Girls have picked up. The following art piece could be seen at this year’s GIBCA (Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art).
So stand tall, fellow Guerrilla Ladies, and don’t let gender and equal rights slip away unnoticed!
Arts Grant Committee, Artists’ Income from a Gender Equality Perspective (Part 2, 2010)
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