Vita Andersen is one of the greatest Danish, feminist writers. From the 70’s, her poetry is a voice of women who previously didn’t have one; insecure women who need men to validate them in life. As a Danish person it is a must-read and I don’t know if there are English translations, but it should really only be read in its original language.
I wouldn’t say these poems are beautiful. The Danish language requires hard work to be structured into something resembling balance and rhythm and Andersen really drags out the most ugly and mundane words and sentences that can be found. There are poems about picking out sweaters and going down to phone booths to call and see if he is home. It is the language of pathetic women, who still drive by his house, women who are afraid to leave their husbands, woman who hate their mothers.
It is the language of women who are told to shut up and be beautiful, but these women don’t know how to be beautiful and they can’t shut up. They want to be everything society tells them to, but they aren’t. And they can’t shut out the voices in their heads that constantly remind them; you are doing it wrong. All the poems are in essence these people telling themselves to stop talking, stop being wrong, you are just one little tweak from being perfect.
I really cannot recommend this book enough. In meeting the ugliness in writing one is confronted with the ugliness, or rather the fear of ugliness, inside and you challenge it along with the fictional characters. If you are lucky you may even succeed where they don’t.