Inger Christensen bigraphy, stories - Poet, novelist, essayist, editor

Inger Christensen : biography

16 January 1935 - 2 January 2009

Inger Christensen (16 January 1935 – 2 January 2009) was a Danish poet, novelist, essayist and editor considered the foremost Danish poetic experimentalist of her generation.


Years link to corresponding "[year] in poetry" article for books of poems, or "[year] in literature" for other literary works:

  • 1962: Lys: digte ("Light"), poemsWeb page titled at Pegasos website, retrieved January 7, 2009
  • 1963: Græs: digte ("Grass"), poems
  • 1964: Evighedsmaskinen, ("Eternity Machine"), novel
  • 1967: Azorno, novel (translated into English by Denise Newman; New Directions, 2009)
  • 1969: det, ("it"), poems 1969 (translated into English by Susanna Nied)
  • 1972: Intriganterne ("The Scheming"), play
  • 1976: Det malede værelse ("The Painted Room: A Tale of Mantua"), novel (translated into English by Denise Newman; Harvill Press, 2000)
  • 1979: Brev i april ("Letter in April"), poems
  • 1979: Den historie der skal fortælles
  • 1981: Alfabet, 1981 - "Alphabet", poems (translated into English by Susanna Nied), twice translated into Swedish
  • 1982: Del af labyrinten ("Part of the Maze"), essays
  • 1982: Den store ukendte rejse ("The Big Unknown Journey"), children's book
  • 1987: En vinteraften i Ufa og andre spil ("A Winter Evening in Ufa"), plays
  • 1989: Digt om døden ("Poem on Death")
  • 1989: Lys og Græs ("Light and Grass"), poetry
  • 1990: Mikkel og hele menageriet (illustrated by Lillian Brøgger) children's book
  • 1991: Sommerfugledalen, ("Butterfly Valley: A Requiem"), poems (translated into English by Susanna Nied)
  • 1998: Samlede digte ("Collected Poems")
  • 2000: Hemmelighedstilstanden ("The State of Secrecy"), essays

Musical settings

The complete "Butterfly valley" has been set twice by two Danish composers, Niels Rosing-Schow and Svend Nielsen. Both versions were, separately, recorded by Ars Nova Copenhagen with poetry reading by the poet.

Life and work

Born in the town of Vejle, on the eastern, Jutland coast of Denmark, Christensen's father was a tailor, her mother a cook before her marriage. After graduating from Vejle Gymnasium, she moved to Copenhagen and, later, to Århus, studying at the Teachers’ College there. She received her certificate in 1958. During this same period, Christensen began publishing poems in the journal Hvedekorn, and was guided by the noted Danish poet and critic Poul Borum (1934–1995), whom she married in 1959 and divorced in 1976.Jensen, Elisabeth Møller . Dansk Kvindebiografisk Leksikon.

After teaching at the College for Arts in Holbæk from 1963 to 1964, she turned to writing full-time, producing two of her major early collections, Lys (Light, 1962) and Græs (Grass, 1963), both examining the limits of self-knowledge and the role of language in perception. Her most acclaimed work of the 1960s, however, was It (det), which, on one level, explored social, political and aesthetic issues, but more deeply probed large philosophical questions of meaning. The work, almost incantatory in tone, opposes issues such as fear and love and power and powerlessness.

In these years Christensen also published two novels, Evighedsmaskinen (1964) and Azorno (1967), as well as a shorter fiction on the Italian Renaissance painter Mantegna, presented from the viewpoint of various narrators (Mantegna's secretary Marsilio, the Turkish princess Farfalla, and Mantagena's young son), Det malede Værelse (1976, translated into English as The Painted Room by Harvill Press in 2000).

Much of Christensen's work was organized upon “systemic” structures in accordance with her belief that poetry is not truth and not even the “dream” of truth, but “is a game, maybe a tragic game—the game we play with a world that plays its own game with us.”

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine