W.C. Williams said, "write what's in front of your nose." Iceland's poets take to hear this literal truth in a surreal landscape. The results are poems that gaze at nature yet are heated from within by the subterranean currents boiling up through the pastoral and the mythic. For all of us that have wondered or rather fantasied, about the inhabitants far north, this brilliant collection Beneath the Ice
presents a contemporary and invaluable portrait of the state
of the art of Icelandic poets.
Beneath the Ice, Helen Mitsios; superb edition of the best new poetry now being written in Iceland, that fabled land of Ice and Fire, offers generous selections from each poet, so that we get a sense of the range of voices, concerns, and poetics (from neo-pastoral to postmodern). Today's Iceland is both worldly, a distinctly cosmopolitan and European country, and otherwordly at once. Today no elves, as one poem casually mentions in passing, just ice-flowers. Many of the poems are spare, understated, but in them is condensed the power of an icelandic volcano under an apparently calm mountain face, a power and beauty that the translators convey deftly.
Beneath the Ice is wonder.
Gyrðir Elíasson's poems and some others in the collection are translated by Sola Bjarnadóttir-O'Connell. She is a translator and recipient of The American-Scandinavian Foundation's Leif and Inger Sjöberg Translation Award (2013) for her translation of selected poems by Icelandic poet Gyrðir Elíasson.
Megas, an Icelandic cult figure, gave permission to have his lyrics translated into English for the first time and published in Beneath the Ice. Here's a video of Megas with Björk singing backup.