'WILDNESS THE SCHOOLS COULD NOT TAME' Jens Blendstrup interview (2016)


A rough and ready unexpurgated interview with the one and only Jens Blendstrup for my high school newspaper, translated by one of my best students…



Q. What did you make of your time at our high school last month?


Blendstrup. It was great!


Q. Can you describe some of your best and/or worst classroom experiences as a high school student? Which teachers do you remember most?


Blendstrup. I have successfully blocked out most of them. But there was that one time when my best friend, the reviewer Lars Bukdahl, raised his hand to ask a question about the painter Købke, and in the same moment he opened his mouth, he vomited all over the table, and the ’beam of sick’ was so thick and strong that he hit the people sitting in front of him, which was where this girl Mette was sitting, who he had a crush on. He had hay fever, and sometimes that resulted in puking. But damn, he was not popular after that… There was also this time where we had fallen asleep behind the pulpit. And when the verger woke us up the day after, we claimed (totally hungover) that we were looking for a ball, because I knew a ball was still stuck in the ceiling from back when the Cathedral School was a Latin school in the nineteenth century.


Q. Who were your Anglophone literary inspirations as a young writer? And who are they now?


Blendstrup. I was pretty hooked on Oscar Wilde back when I was a high school student. Still remember when I read ’The Picture of Dorian Grey’ for the first time. And Agatha Christie. But that is probably because those were the books we had back home with the old folks. Shakespeare’s tragedies are also fantastic. But have to admit, that was more a part of the curriculum at university. As an adult, I got obsessed with Stephen King. He writes very well about people, and he is amazing at drawing small cities, and the evil that lies within us all. He is a master of psychology. And I really understand why the transformation from horror writer to normal writer has been so successful, so effective, because it is in the drawing of the villains and the heroes that he is truly unique. Maybe it is also his way of slowly… building… the horror. ’Duma Key’ is one of my favorites. I am also very fond of Ray Bradbury and the guy who wrote ’Lord of the Flies’... Aldous Huxley. ’The World According to Garp’, and ’The Cider House Rules’. And ’Hotel New Hampshire’. I still love that guy. By John Irving. He is very talented at portraying the youth as this light and beautiful and tragic period, of which he is a master. But I think I can continue once I get started. I am looking forward to getting time to read ’A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’. As an adult, I think I read as much non-fiction. I was completely addicted to history. And maybe I am very absorbed by German and, yes, European authors here in my more mature days. Gunther Grass, Thomas Mann, and the Russian Gogol (for his satirical and grotesque acid washing of the pre-communist Russian feudal system). In relation to the historical, I definitely believe that books that use history to ’twist’ reality are very interesting at the moment. ‘Jägarne på Karinhall’ by the Swede Carl-Henning Wijkmark. But alright, it is not strictly American authors. Here I would like to recommend Woody Allan’s short stories. Oh yes, and Bill Bryson’s ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’.


Q. Your writing seems to be in dialogue with the greats of world literature. If I were to define the ‘Blendstrupesque’ then I would say that it combines a wet slapstick with the paranoid surrealism of Kafka; a genuine pathos smeared with the grotesque physicality and devil-may-care ethics of Rabelais, oh, and a warmth of humour supplemented with extreme anxiety as found in Dostoyevsky. Have I missed something?


Blendstrup. You know what, that is probably the nicest thing anybody has every said about my writing. I am freaking blushing. I would like that definition to be put onto Wikipedia. I am sick and tired of it just saying: Jens Blendstrup is a ’silly’ author. It must be an enemy of my authorship who wrote that, maybe a competitor! But I am really happy about this one, because you are on to something. I have never read collections of Rabelais, but he is on his own when it comes to talking about the grotesque literature during his time. And the part about the mental states of Dostoyevsky. Well, those I have almost learned at mother’s – I mean, my father’s knee.


Q: I have a friend, who shall remain anonymous, (Rasmus), who is a young Danish teacher in Langkær Gymnasium, who claims that the Danish literary scene can be a little too inward-looking and incestuous, and that there is a certain predictability to what is currently acclaimed on the Danish literary scene, such as an over-reliance on autofictional tropes (at poetry readings he has been known to count the number of times Danish supermarket chains are mentioned), and the preference for the short ‘writer school friendly’ texts over longer works. His point is that at a time when Danish culture needs to be looking outwards, it is instead complicit with the turn inwards which could be said to characterise some of the worst aspects of European politics today. On the other hand, for me, as an outsider, the Danish literary scene at its best resembles what I imagine is an idealised image of the early ‘New York School’, in the way that it functions like a close-knit group of writers whose mutual support enables them to make more experimental works which are somehow still in touch with a broader cultural milieu, and I would speculate that the average Dane is more knowledgeable of contemporary Danish poetry than the average English person knows about Keston Sutherland or even the more mainstream Alice Oswald. Do you think the Danish literary scene is too insular, or is it possible for Danish writers to somehow shape their literary outlook as they see fit?


Blendstrup. Ha ha, I really like that he wants to stay anonymous. Definitely, you can see on the bestseller-list that the Danes have adopted this sophisticated genre of poetry. In this way, it is a victory for the Modern School. People – us—aren’t afraid of reading more difficult literature. And recently Meredte Pryds Helle also won a prize (De Gyldne Laurbær). She was also little when she started. I want to be honest and say that there is a lot of the new literature that bores me. The themes seem in some way compulsory offensive. Incest. Eating disorders. Mental illness. Piss and shit. There has been a trend toward the odd body openings instead of the society. But many of the young writers would claim that they are describing the society through their writing about the body. And I understand his argument. But isn’t that something every generation believes to be the truth about their youth? Because they themselves have grown up and moved on. I see it a bit like the author’s puberty. It's a part of being young and new that one has to go very close to "the self", even to learn the craft and break it up, or develop it if you prefer. I have not gone to the writers school for many years, simply because they all seemed to resemble each other and at the same time as their own teachers bombarded them with texts and theory and genres. I think the school is too hard on the students and doesn’t give them enough space or freedom and yes, you are nice to the students rather than this - you have to suffer before you are allowed to call yourself authors. But there are also many good authors out there, and I'm in no doubt about the network - getting more rapidly built up than just hanging around and sending stuff once in a while. Nor is it wrong to see similarities between American experimental poetry and the prose and poetry of Danish contemporary literature, they read very widely there. And have many American models.


Having said that, I'm glad I was rejected as talentless at the time when I was applying, I do not think I could have kept my style or my... hmm... lack of discipline or, yes, my desire to write if I had first come in through that school. There are authors who like it, and there are a lot who cannot find their ’selves’ afterwards. And that's sad.


But writing is also a craft and I think maybe the incestuous belongs to the beginning, I was also included in the high school clique where we hated everyone else and felt overlooked; never should we forget that power. I actually only read texts by young writers if I have to. And I prefer the unskilled ones. Those who have a bigger story to write. Or that cannot help themselves and have to write. In that way, I've probably removed myself from the total avant-garde because you get more to say with age because you’ve lived. Obviously, one should not forget that there has also been very good literature coming out of from the author school, and from all author schools; they are greasy. And if there are good teachers, there will be crazy poetry. Helle Helle, Pia Juul, Morten Søndergaard, etc. ... writers who may start out very small but grow because they know the craft.


P.s. I was also an "intern" as a dramatist on Denmark's Radio and it really meant a lot for my later writing that there was nothing sacred to discuss. And the constant criticism I got from actors and instructors has taught me to accept criticism. Which has influenced me to go new ways, I think. So, it does not help if those four who think what you are writing are close friends when everyone else does not get it - then you have to go back to the drawing board, or the typewriter. I am ambivalent with the writer schools. There is more mass producing, and it is good for Denmark that there are many who can write; but much of the same is written. One of the reasons that a poet like Ursula Ankjær is a great writer is her "anarchic language." There is wildness there. Wildness the schools could not tame. Or, yes, ’correct’. But being a literary nation is a good thing, especially for a small language like Danish.


Q. In his student talk ‘Incredible Masterpieces’, Ted Berrigan claims that young poets starting out need to find a ‘good’ audience for their work; one which will be constructive for their development, and not overly critical. He advises them against reading their poems to ‘just anyone’ in the street. How important was it for you to have supportive friends when you first started taking your writing seriously, and who were they?


Blendstrup. I had a strange experience when I was a child. We played ’war’ and at some point I stopped playing to write a story about our play and I remember when I recounted it ten minutes later there was one of the hard boys that got red in the cheeks and the toes. I do not quite know why, maybe it was something with the weather that I had portrayed beautifully. And then he let me in behind the facade of violent Erik. I was not one of the strong boys when I was a child, but I was accepted by everyone because I could write or recount: - the life we lived as it happened. I did not really write stuff down at that time, but used to recount rather than being present and playing. Perhaps those years from 8-12 I began to separate myself from the others because I was the one who remembered and produced memories while the others were children who played. Of course, it's a joke because I remember many games where I just played. But the one who observes things, and the writer’s look, came very early. My close contact (no, it sounds almost indestructible ahaha) with my father and his obsession with poetry certainly has been crucial for me to become an author. I will never forget when Copenhagen author, Børge Madsen, who was visiting us, had to hear my essay about zombies read aloud. And he was definitely not sold, but he said I had a language that could eventually be used for something. But it was hard to live as the author, he said. There was nothing called ‘SU’ (student support) or ‘author school’ when he was young, so he survived by being a pianist at the pub. He was also a manic depressant and a drunkard like my father. But I sat and overheard their discussions while I pretended to be playing with a tank. I did not understand everything, but I found out that he housed many of the later youth revellers who went to Thy and broke through in the late 1960s, among them the singer Poul Dissing, as you can see from ’John Dancing Vegetable’ (a Blendstup performance piece) This did a lot for my very limited musical talent. Yet his diction and strange animal linguistic… hmm... explosive narrative language - for example, for 25 minutes at a stretch, left deep marks. It was probably played the for the first 2000 times each night in my childhood home. My dad loved to read poems aloud. And when I grew older, I overtook that task. And in that way, I could almost feel it physically how the language and the rhythm penetrated me.


Later I met Lars Bukdahl who became my musketeer in high school, and the meeting with him made me start writing – the right way – or, that is, all the time. He introduced me to world literature in the form of the ’narrow’ literature, and it was probably in the context, with him, that I found out that I wanted to be an author. A part of him is obsessed with authors, and I enjoyed it in the beginning. He took my work and sent it in to publishers, I did not know where to send anything. As an adult, I have enjoyed working with visual artists and photographers - I met many of them when I was working at a magazine with the poetry group ’Øverste Kirurgiske’ (Overhead Surgery), and the work their and the fact that we lived together for 2-3 years at the Diakonia Foundation and published magazines twice a month and that I hosted public readings of what we were doing for 17 years – that was essential for me. I have always been able to hear whether or not people were speaking the truth when commenting on my work, and the constructive criticism from my wife (Malene Kirkegaard Nielsen) has given be me motivation to write real novels instead of just 4 pages here and there. She does not hold back, and that makes me very angry sometimes, but in general, she’s right. In that way, she is kind of like my boss – haha – that sounds almost criminal. But it is good to have someone who can stay sane; that means I can go crazy and experiment without losing my head. I have always believed that the most psychedelic things need a sane counterpart to reach further than its own… hmm… psychedelic audience.


Q. Your ‘John danser grøntsag’ performance on DR2 now has over 65,000 views on youtube and is like nothing else I’ve ever seen. I’m sure you’ve been asked this before, but what on earth gave you the idea for it? And do you see your literary readings as a kind of performance art?


Blendstup. Yes, I clearly see much of my literature as made for reading. Or for performance. ’Gud taler ud’ (God Speaks) and Luskefisefortællinger (Lousy Tales) are both written with a focus on "behaviour." The last one was actually written because I missed some more bright keys to play, read from, at the end of a reading, and I write a lot of dialogue and about voices that I hear while I'm writing (yes, yes, it's cuckoo, I know) but when I was young I was sitting and reading out aloud to myself, I actually do that when a text is finished; only then can I hear if it is ’balanced’ or if it is missing a sentence to be properly closed. The big novels are harder, but there must be a flow and the language must be up-to-speed from the beginning. For the same reason, I always delete the first 10 pages of a manuscript and the last 2 pages because it gets dragged out or because I cannot help saying goodbye to a character I've "traveled with for a whole novel." It's a bit like a pork stew with too much fat, or a carpet with a shaft, or a house with scaffolding. The first pages you write are always just ’pencils’ - erasable. Or, yes, training courses until you get up to speed, linguistically and poetically.


For ’John dancing vegetable’ - has it really been seen by so many !!! ??? - It is very strange with just the text because it became so much more on the stage. I wrote probably one or two verses extra in the study while we were in progress. There was some mysterious shamanism over that performance. We were all feeling strangely inside, and all the friends of ØK who stood outside the studio were super drunk and they bumped in all the time and ran in when the interview was over. It was very redeeming for the madness. But it's a good example of how I work very intuitively. I knew we had this man who had ’sunken down’ due to drugs or whatever it is, but who rises by dancing vegetables again. It shows man's unshakable will to live even when it looks the most dark and bad. And maybe it's actually one of my core stories. That man, no matter how far he comes out, how dysfunctionally he grows up, can rise and become whole. ’Frodegruppen’ was actually formed to see how far a story can come without the listener giving up on the story. Well, yes, and then to make my big brother seriously take his piano practice seriously…


Throughout my childhood, my dad made him play a melody after hearing it once and then my father or I or one of his patients could then sing or recite a poem or recount something traumatic while the music was playing. In fact, the flow of the music actually made it possible for the patients to gather themselves and shorten the story down to the most important because they were as busy focusing on making the music and the story meet in harmony as in telling their story. I too feel a bit like the medicine man curing people with laughter whenever I am out to read; I get rid of tension, the audience get rid of tension – or at least when it works. So that way I'm looking for another kind of catharsis like the old Greek comedy dramatists. But I do not know if a book is good until I've read it aloud. And that's probably why I insist on reading it myself. With voices.


Q. For me, one of the most appealing aspects of your fictionalised memoir, ‘Gud taler ud’, (God Speaks) and the same goes for your cult-novel-waiting-to-happen, ‘Slagterkoner og bagerenker, (Butcher’s Wives and Baker Widows) is that you portray characters who have serious social problems, whether that’s alcoholism or megalomania or both, who nevertheless possess a kind of vital charm or power which is inextricable from their problem. Even when you show the downsides of this kind of life, your writing displays a compassionate and realistic understanding of the double-sided nature of the issue, which made me consider how difficult it would be to give up such a lifestyle. It is as if you portray these characters as humane and endearing despite or even because of their drinking problems, etc., in the hope that you will provide support for those readers who, for similar reasons, may not feel so good about themselves. Was this a conscious choice on your part?


Blendstrup. Yes, that's why I'm probably a relatively moral writer, I like to equip even highly burned-out people with dignity and value. I write a lot as a result of that urge. I have great sympathy for people who have gotten too far out. Because I know from my own life that these kind of things can happen. And one of the last things my dad told me when he was lying on his deathbed was, ’be sure to carve me a proper rune so you do not have to live with the pain the rest of your life’. That word of wisdom I think I've taken in. I'm not afraid of crazy drunken people; but I can be afraid of normal, well-functioning ones. I always think there is something underneath the facade.


Q. Last question, what’s next for Jens Blendstrup?


Blendstrup. To learn how to proofread and to take the time to spell properly ahhaah! Seriously, finally at the end… Shut up, that was some good questions. I am sorry if I answer to briefly this last question. But I have to go get some wire for the trampoline in the garden. The next step is partly what I am doing now. An expedition about our cultural legacy all over Fyn where I and Ole Leibach, the guy with the oak expeditions, shall write & draw about thirty abandoned places on the island and then publish it as a book and an exhibition in deserted gas- and industrial warehouses on Fyn. It is a big project, supported by the Albani Fond! I really like to work together with other artistic crafts because it brings me to new places in my writing compared to my never-changing, boring old topics. Renewal is Alpha/Omega and I now feel that I have a language that I can use together with my history education, but without it having to be historically accurate.


When I finish that, then I will write a collection of short stories. ALL by myself, without being hired to do it by somebody. I don’t know if it will be about a topic like spontaneous whining. But I have boxes full of ideas. And I believe I feel an urge to get close to realism in some of them. After that, well, then I got a lot of drawings of random people in the train by my wife. I would like to write some stories about those people.


Oh yes, and then Frode has to do a Punk album and a Heavy Metal album and a jazz album. Per Gøtz has been to Hamburg to find locations. I am not completely sure about the heavy metal one, it leaves you with a sore throat.

… Well, wires for the trampoline.

Have a nice weekend, Jens!



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtL9kkYZq7E&t=125s


Dansk udkast

1. What did you make of your time at Ikast Brande Gymnasium last month?

It was great


Hvad synes du om dit besøg på Ikast Brande Gymnasium sidste måned?


Nej nu svarer jeg på dansk, mit engelsk er for rustent til impulsive svar.


2. Can you describe some of your best and/or worst classroom experiences as a Gymnasium student? Which teachers do you remember most?


Kan du beskrive nogle af dine bedste og værste klasseværelsesoplevelser som gymnasieelev? Hvilke lærere husker du bedst?


Jeg tror jeg har fortrængt de fleste J men jeg tror det var dengang min bedste ven anmelderen lars bukdahl rakte hånden op for at svare på et spørgsmål om maleren Købke, i samme øjeblik han åbnede munden brækkede han sig ud over bordet og strålen var så tyk og kraftig at han ramte dem der sad ved bordet foran, hvor bla mette sad, som jeg var ret lun på. Han havde høfeber. Og anfaldet udløste nogen gange kvalme. Men for fanden vi var ikke i kridthuset bagefter. Der var også dengang vi i beruselse var gået over i domkirken til en sommerfest på skolen. Af en eller anden grund var vi faldet i søvn bagved prædikestolen. Og da vi blev vækket af kirketjeneren dagen efter påstod i med gigant tømmermænd vi ledte efter en bold. Jeg vidste nemlig der stadig sad en oldgammel bold i klemme oppe ved loftet fra dengang katedralskolen var latinskole i 1800tallet!


3. Who were your main Anglophone literary inspirations as a young writer? And who are they now?


Hvem var din primære engelsksprogede, litterære inspiration, da du var en ung forfatter? Og hvem er nu din inspirationskilde?


Jeg var ret vild med Oscar Wilde i gymnasiet. Husker stadig da jeg læste the picture of dorian gray første gang. Og Agatha Christie. Men det var nok også fordi det var bøger der var derhjemme hos mine gamle. Shakespeares tragedier er også fantastiske. Men indrømmet det var mere pensum på uni. Som voksen er jeg besat af Steven king. Han skriver virkelig godt om mennesker, og er genial til at tegne små byer, og ondskaben der lurer i personer. Han er psykologiens mester. Og jeg kan egentlig godt forstå transformationen fra gyser forfatter til almindelig forfatter har fungeret så godt, for det er i tegningen af skurke og helte han er unik. Måske er det også hans evne til at skrive…gyset…langsomt op. DUMA key er en af mine favoritter. Jeg er også meget glad for ray bradbury og ham der skrev fluernes herre. Aldous huxley. Verden ifølge Garp. Og æblemost reglementet. Og hotel New Hamskire. Ham elsker jeg stadig. Af john Irving. Han er enormt god til at skildre ungdommen som den her lette og smukke og tragiske tid, i gintangbøger, som han mestrer. Men jeg tror jeg kan blive ved når først jeg kommer i gang. Jeg glæder mig også meget til at få tid til at læse the hichhikers guide to the galaxy. Som voksen læser jeg nok lige så meget faglitteratur. Er besat af historie. Og måske er jeg blevet mere optaget af tyske og ja europæiske forfatterskaber på mine modne dage. Gunther grass, thomas mann, og russeren gogol. (for hans satiriske og groteske afsyring af det før kommunistiske russiske feudalsystem. Mht. Det historiske synes jeg klart bøger der bruger historien til at twiste virkeligheden er meget interessante for tiden. Jægerne på Karinhall af svenskeren carl-henning wijkmark.

Men ok det er jo ikke ligefrem amerikanske forfattere J) her vil jeg gerne anbefale woody allens noveller. Nå ja og bill brysons en kort historie om næsten alt.


4. Your writing seems to be in dialogue with the greats of world literature. If I were to define the ‘Blendstrupesque’ then I would say that it combines a wet slapstick with the paranoid surrealism of Kafka, a genuine sentimental pathos with the grotesque physicality and ‘devil-may-care’ ethics of Rabelais, and a warm humour with the evocation of extreme mental states as found in Dostoyevsky. Are you happy with this characterisation, or have I missed something?


Din skrivestil lader til at være i dialog med flere store værker fra verdenslitteraturen. Hvis jeg skulle karakterisere den ’Blendstrupske’ skrivestil, så ville jeg sige, at den kombinerer plat ’falde-på-halen’-humor med den paranoide surrealisme der kendetegner Kafka, en helhjertet, sentimental patos med den groteske fysik og fandenivoldske etik fra Rabelais og en varm humor med fremkaldelsen af ekstreme mentale stadier som man ofte ser i Dostoyevskys værker. Er du tilfreds med denne karakterisering, eller mangler jeg noget?


Ved i hvad det er noget af det fineste der nogensinde er sagt om det jeg skriver. Jeg rødmer sgu næsten helt J Den karakteristik vil jeg gerne have ind og ligge på wikipedia. Jeg er dødtræt af der bare står Jens blendstrup er en ”fjollet” forfatter. Det må være en fjende af mit forfatterskab der har skrevet det, måske en konkurrent! Men jeg er virkelig glad for den her, for i har virkelig fat i noget. Rabelais har jeg aldrig læst samlet, men han ligger ligesom helt for sig selv i den groteske litteratur i hans tid. Og det med de mentale stadier hos dostoyevski. Altså dem har jeg jo nærmest fået ind med moder – nej fadermælken. Og det er helt sikkert der e


5. Who were your main Anglophone literary inspirations as a young writer? And who are they now?


You have this question twice.


6. I have a friend, who shall remain anonymous, (Rasmus), who is a young Danish teacher in Langkær Gymnasium, who claims that the Danish literary scene can be a little too inward-looking and incestuous, and that there is a certain predictability to what is acclaimed on the Danish literary scene, such as an over-reliance on autofictional tropes (at poetry readings he has been known to count the number of times Danish supermarket chains are mentioned), and the preference for the short ‘forfatterskole friendly’ texts over longer works. His point is that at a time when Danish culture needs to be looking outwards, it is instead complicit with the turn inwards which characterises some of the worst aspects of European politics today. On the other hand, for me, as an outsider, the Danish literary scene at its best resembles the early New York School of poetry in the way that it functions like a close-knit group of writers whose mutual support enables them to make more experimental works which are somehow still in touch with a broader cultural milieu, and I would speculate that the average Dane is more knowledgeable of contemporary Danish poetry than the average English person knows about Keston Sutherland or Alice Oswald. Do you think the Danish literary scene is too insular, or is it possible for Danish writers to somehow shape their literary outlook as they see fit?


Jeg har en ven, som skal forblive anonym, (Rasmus), som er en ung dansklærer på Langkjær Gymnasium. Han påstår, at den danske litterære scene kan være en smule for indadvendt og incestuøs, og at der er en bestemt forudsigelighed i forhold til hvilke værker der er repræsenteret på den litterære scene. Det ses blandt andet ved over-afhængigheden af autofiktive troper (han er kendt for, at han til poesioplæsninger tæller antallet af gange danske supermarkedskæder bliver nævnt), og forkærligheden for ’forfatterskole-venlige’, korter tekster kontra længere værker. Hans pointe er, at på et tidspunkt i historien, som nu, hvor dansk kultur har behov for at se udad, er kulturen i stedet opslugt i den indadvendthed som også afspejles i europæisk politik i dag. På den anden side, set fra mit perspektiv som en udefrakommende, fungerer den danske litterære scene, som bedst minder om den tidlige ’New York School of poetry’-stil, på den måde at der er en fast sammentømret forfattergruppe hvis gensidige support gør dem i stand til at skabe mere eksperimentelle værker, som på en eller anden måde stadig er i kontakt med et bredere kulturelt miljø, og jeg ville derfor påstå, at den gennemsnitlige dansker er mere oplyst når det kommer til samtidige danske værker end den gennemsnitlige englænder er med engelske værker som f.eks. Keston Sutherland eller Alice Oswald. Mener du, at den danske litterære scene er for afsondret og isoleret, eller er det muligt for danske forfattere på en eller anden måde at forme det litterære udsyn som de ser passende?


Ha ha jeg kan godt li han godt vil være anonym! J) Helt sikkert, det kan man se på bestsellerlisten, danskerne har taget den nye avancerede digtningt til sig. På den måde har den modernistiske skole jo sejret af helvede til. Folk – os – er ikke bange for at læse svær litteratur. Og for nyligt vandt merete pryds helle jo også, de gyldne laurbær. Hun var også smal da hun startede.

Jeg vil gerne være ærlig, og sige at der er meget af den unge litteratur jeg keder mig ved at læse. Emnerne virker på en eller anden måde tvangsmæssigt forargelige. Incest. Spiseforstyrrelse. Psykisk sygdom. Pis og lort. Der har været en trend mod kroppens besynderlige åbninger fremfor samfundet. Men mange af de unge vil hævde de skildrer samfundet gennem den meget kropsfikserede skrivning. Jeg kan godt forstå hans argument. Men er det ikke noget alle generationer mener om de unge. Fordi de selv er blevet voksne og kommet videre. Jeg ser det lidt som forfatternes pubertet. Det er en del af det at være ung og ny, at man er nød til at gå meget tæt på ”selv” selv for at lære håndværket og bryde med det, udvikle det om du vil. Jeg har ikke selv gået på forfatterskole, og var i mange år imod den, simpelthen fordi det kom til at ligne hinanden alt den stund at man præges af ens lærere der bombarderer en med tekster og teori og genrer. Jeg synes nok skolen er for hård ved eleverne, og savner mere plads og ja at man er sød ved eleverne fremfor den her – i skal lide før i har lov at kalde jer forfattere. Men det er også kommet virkelig mange gode forfattere ud derfra, og jeg er ikke i tvivl om netværket – bliver hurtigere bygget op end hvis man bare laller rundt og sender ind engang imellem. Det er heller ikke forkert at se ligheder mellem den amerikanske eksperimental poesi og dansk nutids prosa og poesi, de læser meget bredt derinde. Og har mange amerikanske forbilleder.

Når det er sagt, er jeg glad for jeg blev afvist som talentløs i sin tid da jeg søgte, jeg tror ikke jeg havde kunne bevare min stil eller min – hm mangel på disciplin eller ja min lyst til at skrive hvis jeg først var kommet ind på den skole. Der er forfatterskaber der har godt af det, og så er der en hel del der ikke kan finde sig selv mere bagefter. Og det er trist. Men at skrive er også et håndværk og jeg tror måske det incestuøse hører med i starten, jeg var jo også med i gymnasieskrivekliken hvor vi hadede alle andre og følte os overset, den drivkraft skal man heller ikke glemme. Jeg læser faktisk kun unge hvis jeg skal. Og jeg foretrækker de uskolede. Dem der har en større historie at skrive. Eller som ikke kan lade være. PÅ den måde har jeg nok selv fjernet mig fra den totale avantgarde, fordi man får mere på hjerte med alderen, fordi man jo lever. Man må ikke glemme at der også er kommet virkelig meget god litteratur ud af den forfatterskole, og i det hele taget fra forfatterskoler, det er fedt de skyder op. Og hvis der er gode lærere kommer der sindsygt skarpe digtere ud. Helle Helle, pia juul, morten søndergaard etc…forfattere der måske starter meget småt men som vokser fordi de kan håndværket. Ps. Jeg var også i ”lære” som dramatiker på Danmarks radio og det betød virkelig meget for min senere skrivning, at der ikke var noget der var helligt, at diskutere. Og den konstante kritik jeg fik af skuespillere og instruktører har lært mig at tage imod kritik. Hvilket har påvirket mig til at gå nye veje, tror jeg. Altså det hjælper jo ikke hvis de 4 der synes om det du skriver er nære venner, når alle andre ikke fatter en skid – så må man tilbage til tegnebrættet, eller skrivemaskinen. Jeg har det ambivalent med de skoler. Der sprøjtes digere ud, og det er fedt for danmark at der er mange der kan skrive, men der skrives også meget af det samme. En af grundene til at en digter som ursula ankjær er en stor forfatter er jo hendes ”anarkistiske sprog.” der er vildt. Og som de skoler ikke kunne tæmme. Eller ja afrette. Men at være en litterær nation er en god ting, særligt for et lille sprogområde som det danske.


7. In his essay ‘Incredible Masterpieces’, the American poet Ted Berrigan claims that young poets starting out need to find a ‘good’ audience for their work; one which will be constructive for their development, and not overly critical. He advises them against reading their poems to just anyone on the street. How important was it for you to have supportive friends when you first started taking your writing seriously, and who were they?


Den amerikanske digter Ted Berrigan påstår i sit essay ‘Ufattelige Mesterværker’ (Incredible Masterpieces), at nye unge poeter bliver nød til at finde et ’flinkt’ publikum, der kan modtage deres arbejde; et publikum som er konstruktive og hjælper dem med at udvikle sig, men også et publikum som ikke er for kritiske. Han, [Berrigan], giver dem det råd, at de ikke skal læse deres digte op for hvilken som helst, som de møder på gaden. Hvor vigtigt var det for dig at have nogle støttende venner, da du begyndte at tage dit skriveri seriøst, og hvem var de?


Jeg havde en mærkelig oplevelse da jeg var barn. Vi legede krig og på et tidspunkt holdt jeg op med at lege for at skrive historien om vores leg, og jeg kan huske da jeg genfortalte den 10 minutter senere var der en af de hårde drenge der blev helt rød i kinderne og tårevædet. Jeg ved ikke helt hvorfor måske var det noget med vejret jeg havde skildret smukt. Og kommet ind bag pansret på voldelige Erik. Jeg var ikke en af de stærke da jeg var barn, men jeg var accepteret af alle, fordi jeg kunne skrive, eller genfortælle – det liv vi levede mens det skete. Jeg skrev det ikke rigtigt ned dengang, men vænnede mig til at genfortælle fremfor at være tilstede og lege. Måske var det de år fra 8-12 jeg begyndte at adskille mig fra de andre, fordi jeg var den der huskede og producerede erindring mens det var de andre der var børn og legede. Det er selvfølgelig fup for jeg husker mange lege hvor jeg bare legede. Men den der iagtager ting, og blikket kom meget tidligt. Min nære kontakt (nej det lyder sgu næsten incestuøst ahaha) med min far og hans besættelse af poesi har helt sikkert været afgørende for at jeg blev forfatter. Jeg glemmer aldrig dengang han havde beøsg af en københavnsk forfatter Børge madsen, som blev tuvnget til at høre min fristil om zombier læst højt. Og han var absolut ikke solgt men han sagde jeg havde et sprog, der måske på sigt kunne bruges til noget. Men det var hårdt at leve som forfatter sagde han. Der var ikke nogert der hed su og forfatterskole da han var ung, så han levede af at være værtshus pianist, Han var for øvrigt maniodepressiv og fordrukken ligesom min far. Men jeg sad tit og hørte deres diskussioner mens jeg lod som om jeg legede med en kampvogn. Jeg forstod ikke det hele, men jeg fandt ud af han husede mange af de senere ungdomsoprørere der tog til thy og som brød igennem i sluttresserne, her i blandt sangeren poul dissing, som jeg – det kan i se af john danser grøntsag – har betydet en hel del for mit meget lille musikalske talent. Men hans diktion og besynderlige dyriske sproglige – hm – eksplosivt fortællende sprog - f.eks i 25 minutter endnu. Satte dybe spor. Det blev nok spillet de første 2000 gange om natten i mit barndomshjem. Min far elskede at læse højt af digtere. Og da jeg blev ældre overtog jeg den tjans. Og på den måde kunne jeg nærmest mærke helt fysisk hvordan sproget og rytmen trængte ind.



8. Your ‘John danser grøntsag’ performance on DR2 now has over 65,000 views on youtube and is like nothing else I’ve ever seen. I’m sure you’ve been asked this before, but what gave you the idea for it? And do you see your literary readings as a kind of performance art?


Din ‘John danser grøntsag’ optræden på DR2 har nu over 65.000 afspilninger på YouTube, og den ligner ikke noget, jeg før har set. Jeg er sikker på, at du er blevet spurgt om det her før, men hvad gav dig idéen til ’John danser grøntsag’? Og opfatter du dine litterære læsninger som en form for performancekunst?


Ja jeg opfatter helt klart meget af min litteratur som bygget til oplæsning. Eller til optræden. Gud taler ud og luskefisefortællinger er begge skrevet med henblik på ”opførsel.” Den sidste blev jo faktisk skrevet fordi jeg savnede nogen mere lyse tangenter at spille på, læse op fra, mod slutningen af et foredrag, og jeg skriver meget på dialog og på stemmer, som jeg hører mens jeg skriver (ja ja det er gak-gak det ved jeg godt) men da jeg var ung sad jeg tit og læste højt for mig selv, det gør jeg faktisk stadig når en tekst er skrevet, for først da kan jeg høre om den ”vatter” eller om den mangler en sætning for at blive lukket ordentligt. De store romaner er sværere, men der skal være et flow og sproget skal være oppe i fart fra starten. Af samme grund sletter jeg altid de første 10 sider af et manuskript og de sidste 2 sider, fordi det bliver langt i spyttet eller fordi jeg ikke kan holde ud at sige farvel til en karakter jeg har ”rejst med en hel roman.” Det er lidt ligesom en flæskesteg med for meget fedt, eller en kottelet med skaft, eller et hus med stillads. De første sider man skriver er altid penneprøver. Eller ja træningsbaner indtil man er kommet op i fart sprogligt og digterisk.

Mht john danser grøntsag. Er den virkelig set af så mange!!!??? Det er meget mærkeligt med lige den tekst for den blev meget til på scenen. Jeg skrev nok 1 eller 2 vers til i selve studiet, mens vi var i gang. Der var noget mystisk shamanisme over den optræden. Vi var alle sammen underlige inden, og alle ØKs venner der stod udenfor studiet skidefulde af fri fadølsbar og de her badebolde de hele tiden pustede op og som væltede ind da interviewet var overstået, det var enormt forløsende for vanviddet. Men den er et godt eksempel på at jeg arbejder meget intuitivt og flow agtigt. Jeg vidste vi havde den her mand der var gået ned af stoffer eller hvad det nu er, men som rejser sig ved at danse grøntsag igen. Det viser jo menneskets ukuelige livsvilje selv når det ser mest sort ud. Og måske er det faktisk en af mine kernefortællinger. At mennesket, ligemeget hvor langt det kommer ud, hvor dysfunktionelt det vokser op, kan rejse sig, og blive hel. Frodegruppen blev faktisk dannet for at se hvor langt ud en fortælling kan komme, uden at lytteren står af. Nå ja også for at få min storebror til at tage sit klaverspil alvorligt. Hele min barndom satte min far ham til at spille en melodi, efter gehør og så kunne min far eller jeg eller en af hans patienter så give sig til at synge eller recitere et digt eller fortælle om noget traumatisk til musik. Det sidste gjorde faktisk at patienterne nogen gange faktisk samlede sig og skar fortællingen ned til det væsentligste, fordi de var lige så optaget af at få det til at ”svinge” som for at få det bedre. Og jeg føler mig faktisk også lidt som en slags latterens medicin mand når jeg er ude og læse op, jeg bliver forløst og publikum bliver forløst, altså når det funker. Så på den måde søger jeg nok en form for kathersis ligesom de gamle græske komediefortællere. Men jeg ved ikke om en bog er god før jeg har læst op af den. Og det er nok også derfor jeg insisterer på selv at læse den ind. Med stemmer.


9. For me, one of the most appealing aspects of your fictionalised memoir, ‘Gud taler ud’, and the same goes for your cult-novel-waiting-to-happen, ‘Slagterkoner og bagerenker’, is that you portray characters who have serious social problems, whether that’s alcoholism or megalomania or both, as possessing a certain kind of vital charm or power which is inextricable from their problem. Even when you show the downsides of this kind of life, your writing displays a compassionate and realistic understanding of the double-sided nature of the issue, which makes people consider how difficult it would be to give up such a lifestyle. It is as if you portray these characters as humane and endearing despite their drinking problems, etc., in the hope that you will provide support for those readers who may share the same condition, and may not feel so good about themselves. Was this a conscious choice on your part?


For mig, et af de mest appellerende aspekter af din fiktionaliserede memoir-bog, ’Gud taler ud’, og din kult-roman-på-randen-af-gennembrud, ’Slagterkoner og bagerenker’, er, at du portrætterer karakterer, som har seriøse sociale problemer, om det så er alkoholisme eller megalomani eller begge dele, som om de har en speciel form for absolut nødvendig fortryllelse eller kraft, som er uløseligt forbundet til deres problem. Selv når du viser bagsiden af medaljen for disse livsstile, så viser dine tekster en medfølelse og realistisk forståelse for dobbeltheden ved hele problemet, hvilket får folk til at overveje, hvor svært det vil være at opgive den livsstil. Det er som om du viser karaktererne som humane og henrivende, på trods af deres alkoholproblemer osv. med det håb, at det vil fungere som support for de læsere som er i samme situation og som derfor måske har det svært med sig selv. Var det et bevidst valg fra din side?


Ja på den måde er jeg nok en relativt moralsk forfatter, jeg kan godt li at udstyre selv meget udsyrede mennesker med værdighed. Den der drift skriver jeg meget på. Jeg har en stor sympati for mennesker der er kommet for langt ud. For jeg ved det fra mit eget liv at den slags kan ske. Og en af de sidste ting min far sagde til mig da han lå for døden var, sørg nu for at riste mig en ordentlig rune, så du ikke skal leve med smerten resten af dit liv. Den lære tror jeg at jeg har taget til mig. Jeg er ikke bange for fordrukne mennesker, men jeg kan godt være bange for normale, velfungerende. Jeg tænker altid der stikker noget under J

10. Last question, what’s next for Jens Blendstrup?


Sidste spørgsmål, hvad er næste skridt for Jens Blendstrup?


At lære at læse korrektur, og give mig tid til at stave rigtigt ahhaah!

Seriøst, endelig ved endemålet. Hold kæft nogen gode spørgsmål. Beklager hvis jeg svarede for kort her til sidst. Men jeg skal hente barduner til trampolinen i haven.

Det næste skridt er dels det jeg siddeer med nu. En kulturarvs ekspedition rundt om hele fyn hvor jeg og ole leibach ham med egeekspeditioner skal skrive/tegne 30 forladte steder på øen og udgive det som bog og udstilling i forladte Gas-og industrihaller på fyn. Det er et stort projekt støttet af albanifonden! Jeg holder meget af at lave samarbejder med andre kunstretninger frodi jeg kommer nye steder hen end mit eget evindelige kedelige emne pisse valg. Fornyelse er alfa og omega og jeg føler nu at jeg har et sprog til at arbejde med min historiske uddannelse uden at det ja bliver historisk korrekt.

Når jeg er færdig med det skal jeg skrive en novellesamling. HELT alene uden at være bestilt til det af nogen. Om den bliver med tema ligesom pludselig flæben ved jeg ikke. Men jeg har papkassen fuld af ideer. Og jeg tror jeg har trang til at nærme mig det realistiske i hvert fald i nogen af dem.

Efter den ja, jeg har fået en bunke tegninger af min kone af ukendte mennesker fra toget. Dem vil jeg gerne lave nogen portrætter af.

Nå ja og så skal frode lave en punk plade, og en heavy plade, og en jazz plade. Per gøtz har været i Hamborg for at sondere området J den med heavy refræn ved jeg ikke helt med man får så p ondt i halsen.


…nå det var de barduner


god weekend fra jens






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