Thursday, August 27, 2009

Rut Hillarp

Rut Hillarp is an interesting figure in Swedish poetry and literature. In the 1940s and 50s she was part of a surrealist group, and she was famous for her international soirees in her apartment, full of seances and dancing. She worked on film and photography too. She published three books of poetry, the last one in 1950, but then she didn't publish any again until the 1980s. I'm not sure why that is (according to wikipedia she worked as a lecturer at a university in Stockholm), but she became Aase Berg's mentor in the late 80s, early 90s, and according to Aase was a big influence on her. There was a little volume of selected that was published in the 90s. I just got it on my recent trip to Sweden, and it's pretty amazing. It's also got a bunch of photomontages (including one in which a young Aase is the model). Here's a poem from the late 40s that I think is pretty awesome (my rough translation):

When I thought it was time to have a child, I went to the hospital. The doctor said that he had to give me cesarian. “Does Doctor think I want a big scar on my belly,” I said. “Then I’d rather be without it.” He looked surprised but let me leave after some complaints.
After a few days I started feeling something that must have been a pain, even though it didn’t hurt very much. I went to another hospital, where everyone was very friendly. I got to sit on a bed in the corridor and look at the horror. I had no more pains, but nobody thought that was strange. “Maybe I’ve fooled you,” I said. “Maybe I’m not going to have a baby. Though I am pretty fat.”
Without any considerable pains I then gave birth to four children. The first one was of normal size, and there has never been a more beautiful newborn. It actually looked like it was a couple of years old. The others were of descending size, the last one being the size of a finger. They were all red and ugly. – I immediately understood that the two smallest ones would not survive. I didn’t have high hopes for the second baby, but the beautiful child made me happy with his dark-blue eyes and his long black locks.
The next day when I woke I asked for my children, but from everybody’s faces I could tell that something was wrong. “They weren’t fed for several hours,” said my mother apologetically.
I went in to my children. There they lay all four in a row, dead. The largest had never been alive. It was a doll.
But none of this was very strange, since I had never been together with a man.

[Here's an interview with Aase Berg in Expressen in which she talks about the influence of Hillarp's novels (and Artaud), so I guess I'll have to find them next.]


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