Literature as a European mother tongue: In our series “One is a CROWD”, we introduce you to authors from all over Europe who will be involved in the CROWD omnibus reading tour, taking place from May to July 2016, featuring 100 authors who will be travelling through 15 European countries. We asked them three questions about text production, reception and mediation. In case you were wondering what a literary activist in Reykjavík looks like, meet Elías Knörr!
Do you see yourself as an author? Are you the originator and main authority of your text? And if not, who is, if anyone at all?
Well, I’m a writer at least, for sure. Though I guess ‘writer’ is just a name, and an author is a more abstract word… I usually hide behind my name and create heteronyms for not identifying with the author. Of course I’m the creator of what I have been writing under my name but still, authorship is blurry and texts have an independent life of their own, regardless of who signs them.
Authorship has always been something alien to me. I prefer not to create from my own feelings and ideas, because for me an author is basically a mediator. Also, I find it more useful to take a step back in order to consider the text from the point of view an editor, translator or interpreter. Indeed, regardless of how big one‘s head (or heart) is, the world outside will always be wider and richer, and research and polyphony make creativity more dynamic! In that sense, my authorship is always shared with the environment, and sometimes the process makes me want to be a “muse” rather than an author and try to give others the desire to create. This is also the main reason why I like to publish and specially to perform, to have some direct contact with people. Maybe being a writer implies more responsibilities than just and only being an author.
This question is also a very tricky one on a personal level, because, for example, Facebook has just kicked me out of its social network for the mere fact of using a made-up nickname… But, since my birth name is a public author, I NEED a nickname to be able to be myself (or at least to express myself more freely) in a social network! I’m obviously really angry with Facebook’s policies which want to force me to accept my birth name (and to be that author!), but I’m also very disappointed that my authorship has stolen my personality at some levels of my life. It’s awkward.
I guess after all this, what I mean is that I am everything that’s behind the author and at the same time I don’t want the author to be me.
Have you ever participated in collaborative author/reader projects? And if so, what do you find interesting about doing them?
Of course, I love them! It’s a variable experience and it depends a lot on the attitude, but then people get together and make something totally new, something that neither one of the parts could’ve ever done alone… I see it as if you put two apples in a bag and all of a sudden you get a watermelon. It’s great!
One learns a lot from it and it broadens horizons, but also I specially like that the dialogue created between two or more authors, even when spontaneous and natural, implies quite a lot of negotiation and that’s what brings fusion into the game: it opens your mind and moves you out of any comfort zone. It’s very healthy.
One can always be a bit afraid because things are not only in your hands and there’s more room for the unexpected, so somehow it is more risky. But on the other hand, your mind goes into another mode and you enjoy all the surprises… That’s very healthy too!
I remember one reading with Anne Kawala at the Reykjavík Poetry Festival that was very simple, but still, better than sex! I also once “translated” a poem by Kári Tulinius that he recited to me but he had never ever written it down or fixed into words… so it was the pure archaeology of a dream and the creation-translation was shared on a different level than we’re used to. This winter, the poet Bergþóra Einarsdóttir and I made a davidlynchean performance for “The Enemies” festival where we mixed poetry with boiled potatoes and she had an injured leg and I was moving around with my eyes blindfolded and singing Sappho… It was definitely something unexpected. A very wonderful experience that, as funny as it seems, everybody called “dance” hahahhah! Also, I had a fabulous thing happen at the Lettrétage at the SOUNDOUT festival, where I had 5 random volunteers from the public to make my performance “A Face in Translation”. It was a total experiment but it marked a watershed in my authorship.
What is your favorite literary spot in …? (literary venue, bar, meeting spot etc.) Please give us a link to the website of the spot)
Lately, my favourite literary spot is the shower, cause I barely have time to write or enjoy poetry anywhere else. But since my toilet is not a public place on a daily basis, I would mention downtown Reykjavík. It is a very very small downtown and it doesn’t have any especially literary spot but just people doing readings and events wherever possible. I’ve been very fond of what the young Partus Press has been doing and also the Unesco City of Literature, who possibly are the most active people in organising anything literary all year round.
Photo © Angela Rawling