Martin Glaz Serup is an author, writing poetry, children’s books, theoretical papers, he is a blogger and contributor as well as founder of magazines, a literary critic and well, he is also teaching creative and non-creative writing at the University of Copenhagen and at Danish Talent Academy in Holstebro. Goddamn, Serup is a textual jack-of-all-trades, „a gifted and prolific poet“ (Steven J Fowler), innovative and hard-boiled, and a funny guy talking waterfall-like without interruption.
Amongst his six publications of poetry books “The Field” (Denmark 2010, America 2011, Sweden 2012, Finland 2014, Germany 2016 (in print)) and “Roman Nights” (Denmark 2013, Sweden 2014, not yet in print in English) have been translated into English. In “Roman Nights” there are different languages, German, for example, Danish, Norwegian and of course Italian. Taken from the poetry of Italian Pier Paolo Pasolini, one of Martin’s great inspirations, the line and name “Roman Nights” indicates Martin’s admiration for the movie maker and his fascination of places. Currently he is working on a project which he calls “reading places”, a pseudo-autobiographical text, creative non-fiction, about important reading experiences, investigating what it actually means to read; how the place and time where you read, the body you have when you do it, and who and where you are, affects it all.
A Place. A metaphor. A Memory
“A place turns easily into a metaphor”, a vehicle to find your self and see new landscapes, he says. By making oneself aware of places, one – and Martin himself too – gains a deeper understanding for the workings of/in his environment in this very intimate moment, the only moment, that is “now”. When asked for what he would occupy himself with in transitional places, riding the bus or the train for example, he returns, that this is indeed a moment of his interest. Places are strongly connected to remembering by which it is possible to focus on where you virtually are. Riding on the train, like he does for nine or ten hours a week, on a daily basis, he says that he can only read, write or sleep, adding: “pretty luxurious”.
Poetry for children?!
Martin is writing a lot of different sorts of text. Applying in general the method of collage, he also worked with texts from a cell phone, collecting all the messages from colloquial language. Interested in communities and their specific way of talking and in general in expressions of every day life. “Instead of trying to imagine what people are saying, I’m investigating what is actually being said. Written.” All the messages from a Friday or a Monday, he collected them, turning them into poetical language.
His children’s books, too, carry a great poetical language. “Children often understand poetry by other means. For them it is not unusual that animals talk for example”, he laughs. In his books he uses the short form, a lot of sound patterns and keeps up a playfulness that can apply to poetry and children’s books. “A children’s book is an object of sensitivity and tactility. So is poetry. The sound of the words is important, the visuality.“
Sources, material and space
“Would you not use social media for your poetry?” I ask him. “Not rather”, he laughs, and continues that he could use facebook to collect his material. But it is the missing democracy which is bothering him. Especially on facebook one cannot have a meaningful talk. Via facebook he himself only keeps updated on publications and events. Which is also great because of the directness based on who would be your friends. Social media is no literary means, though. The format is a problem, and the algorithm by which what you see is sorted out, is a big problem, Martin says. One rarely encounters someone who is of a different opinion than you.
But it is quite different with magazines. Engaging in the work of an editor, a publisher and contributor, Martin appreciates the sense of a community you get from a magazine, even though the people are not necessarily physically present. “Magazines are a communal place”, he emphasizes. Serup is the founding editor of the literary journal Apparatur (2001–4) and of the Nordic Web magazine for literary criticism Litlive (2004–8), and was a former assistant editor for the poetry magazine Hvedekorn (2005–7).
But he is not really interested in genre-specific literature. Funny enough, he started as a writer for horror short stories when he was a teenager. He even published a few of them in some magazines. His first story would be about a man who kills himself with a paper knife, mistaking it for a cigarette.
Download-Link: “The Field” (English, ubu web)
Martin Glaz Serup has published seven children’s books, most recently the illustrated story book Yana and Eliah (and Many Other Kids); four chapbook essays; seven collections of poetry, most recently Roman Nights; and Relational Poetry, a collection of critical essays on (conceptual) poetry, politics, and relational aesthetics. He received the Michael Strunge Prize for Poetry, the Gold Medal from the University of Copenhagen for his dissertation on poetry and relational aesthetichs, and the prestigious three-years-grant from the Danish Art’s Council.He taught creative writing at the University of Southern Denmark and at the writer’s school for children’s literature at the University of Aarhus, and is currently teaching at the University of Copenhagen and at Danish Talent Academy in Holstebro. In 2015 he was awarded a PhD for his dissertation on Cultural Memory and Conceptual Witness Literature, and is a blogger for Kornkammer, and a member of the literary collective Promenaden.
Photo: (c) Andreas-Kjærgaard