Modern Poets on Viking Poetry


I am soon to start teaching workshops on Viking poetry as part of a project called ‘Kennings in the Community’ . This is very exciting as it means I get to go to Cambridge to eat cake.

Skaldic   poetry   encompasses   particular   types   of   verse   composed   in   Old   Norse   (medieval   Scandinavian)   from   the   ninth   to   fourteenth   century.   It   is   often   characterised   by   its   complex   metrical  structures,  its  riddling  syntax,  and  the  liberal  application  of  a  distinctive  type  of  metaphor   known  as  the  kenning.  The  wonderful  richness  of  wordplay,  imagery,  ambiguity  and  irony  at  play   in  skaldic  poetry  has  a  great  deal  to  offer  poets  composing  in  other  cultural  contexts.   

There is also a sister project called ‘Modern Poets on Viking Poetry’ which aims  to  cultivate  contemporary  poets’  awareness  of   the   skaldic   aesthetic. Participating   poets   will   be   encouraged   to   creatively   interact   with   skaldic   tradition   through  the  collaborative,  cultural  translation  of  skaldic  poetry. If you’d like some more information on how to get involved please email me and I’ll send you all the information. You would basically be working with Skaldic scholars to produce either a poem or a mulit-media art piece. I think it will be really fun and interesting.

“With bloody brand on-striding
My bird of bane hath followed;
My hurtling spear hath sounded
In the swift Vikings’ charge.
Raged wrathfully our battle,
Ran fire o’er foemen’s rooftrees;
Sound sleepeth many a warrior
Slain in the city gate.”

Egil Skallagrímsson

Here is a blog post with a bit more information.


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