Before I die I want to stroll through the city one last time
let this be my last humble wish
to walk on my feet through my city
through the city of Copenhagen
as I’ve done so many times before
and I’ll know this is the last time
and I’ll choose my route with care
and I’ll walk down Isted Street or West Bridge Street
and walk down all the narrow sunless side streets with all their shutdown shops
and I’ll look at all the junk-shop displays of yellowed curtains and greasy gas rings
and I’ll rummage in the book boxes and I’ll buy nothing
and not because it’s the last time
but because I never rummage in the book boxes to buy anything
but to rummage in them and think how short and strange life is
and I’ll look at children playing in the small square stony windblown courtyards
and I’ll listen to them shouting to and at each other
and I’ll see their mothers lean out of kitchen windows
and call them in when dinner is ready
and out the windows clotheslines will hang with the family’s underwear
and it will flap in the wind
and I’ll walk through West Bridge’s poets quarter in the gloaming
I’ll stroll along Saxo Street Oehlenschläger Street Kingo Street
and I’ll stop in someplace in one of the serving houses
maybe Café Golden Rain
and savor a bitter and nothing else
and then out and on
I’ll wear my soles thin this last stroll in Copenhagen
I will say farewell to my city
and I’ll walk on from West Bridge
I’ll go in over the Central Station
I’ll pass it in grey light and it will be lightly veiled
it will as always resemble an old tear-streaked film
and it will stab my heart as it always does
the usual alkies will sit there waiting for nothing
the young hitchhikers will stand with their backpacks and their cartons of milk
hurried and harried people will wait for their connections
families will come with suitcases and baby carriages to take a weekend with the family
in the country
and I’ll stand in a corner and be overwhelmed
and not be able to do anything about it and not want to either
just be overwhelmed by all that life and all that swarm
wet eyes without clear reason
and very very distant
and when I have pulled myself together I’ll shake the shoulders of my coat
shake the Central Station off as a dog shakes his wet fur
or as when you leave a theater after a movie
I’ll light a cigarette and go down West Bridge Street to the Town Hall Square
where everyone flutters around between buses and movie houses
and again I’ll just lean up against a poster-plastered pillar
and I’ll know that here somewhere on these stones lie my whole life and all my dreams
just like so many others’ lives and dreams
everything is so swift and fleeting
like your last stroll through the city
and I’ll walk down the Pedestrian Street like a shadow
and all the way down I’ll be accompanied by all my friends
and they will all be ghosts
and no one but me will see they are there but they are
and we say goodbye to everything and each other
and we are not sentimental
but the air is full of something no one knows what it’s called or is
and we walk there in silent conversation
and somewhere towards New Square they are gone again
and I myself fade out a little further down
My last stroll through the city is done
and a single shadow less frequents the street—
Normally, a somewhat eclectic mix of music and poetry attracts an equally eclectic,
rather limited audience. Such was not the case with the two albums I produced with
Danish poet Dan Turèll in the early 1990s: in fact, we succeeded in reaching
a broad audience who normally listened to more mainstream music, rock and jazz. Not
only did we succeed beyond our wildest expectations, we had great fun doing it.
Mr. Turèll always wanted the world to hear our songs in a language they’d
understand. Sadly, he died only six months after the initial release, and all further
plans of conquering the world were shelved.
Sixteen years later, I get this letter from an American gentleman, stating that
he loves our work and that he has actually translated most of it to his native tongue.
Turns out this gent is an accomplished author in his own right—with thirty
books to his credit, born and raised in Queens, NY, now living in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Old plans were revived and soon after, I was back in the studio with Thomas E. Kennedy
at the microphone, re-recording the album you’re now listening to, twenty
years after it was initially released. A few things have been reshaped, but otherwise
the material feels as fresh as it did back then—only, this time we’re
communicating to the world, not just the five million souls of a small green country
best known for Carlsberg, Hans Christian Andersen and cool furniture from the ’50s...
Just as Dan wanted.
I wish you all an enjoyable experience!
(1946-1993) was phenomenally acclaimed, both popularly and critically, in Denmark
during his lifetime, and his work has continued to be revered in the twenty years
since his untimely death at the age of forty-seven.
During his lifetime, Turèll published more than 100 books. He was influenced
by, among others, Dante, T. S. Eliot, the American beats, and American jazz, and
synthesized American popular culture into his poetry. Surprisingly, not until 2008
was his poetry ever translated into English. When the first translations of
Turèll’s work began to appear in the U.S. in 2009, the American poet
Steve Kowit said of it: “He has one of those large, humanistic voices
like Mayakovsky and Yevtushkenko. Impressive and engaging and at its best hypnotic.”
His poetry, as translated by Thomas E. Kennedy, has appeared or will appear in
New Letters, Absinthe: New European Writing, Poetry Wales, Epoch, Poet Lore,
Ecotone, and others.
A recent memoriam of 20 years since Turèll’s death (and 20 years since
the original Danish album of Turèll and Halfdan E) was held on the day itself,
October 15th, at the Turèll Collection in Vangede Library, the part of Copenhagen
in which Turèll was born and grew up. Turèll has been celebrated with
a Danish postage stamp, by having a square in Copenhagen and a café named after
him, and by the fact that his books of poetry and prose continue to sell.
is a Danish painter, sculptor, and publisher. He is a member of The Adventurers’
Club of Denmark and a Fellow of the Painters Society, Royal Academy of Fine Arts,
Copenhagen, Denmark. Born in Canada, he moved to Denmark as a child and graduated
from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen in the 1960s.
He has been an artist for several decades, and his work is represented in more than
a dozen public collections, including the Danish National Gallery, the Louisiana
Museum of Modern Art in Denmark, Edinburgh’s Gallery of Modern Art, the National
Archives of Canada, and the Musée national d’art moderne in the Centre
Pompidou in Paris. His art has been the subject of many scholarly books and articles,
and he has been included in the Canadian Who’s Who for the past several years.
Among his many notable monumental art commissions is the Dan Turèll Medalion,
commissioned by the Dan Turèll Society. Barry Lereng Wilmont knew Dan Turèll
personally; they worked together for nearly twenty years. Before he died, Turèll
asked Wilmont to see that his work was translated into English and published in
the United States. In 2008, Wilmont proposed Thomas E. Kennedy as translator of
Turèll, and the poet’s widow gave her permission. Since then, Wilmont
has published a limited, bilingual edition of one of Turèll's most famous long
poems, reprinted here together with the four original Wilmont lithographs.
Danish composer Halfdan E has long been one of Scandinavia’s most successful,
award-winning film composers, and he has now burst onto the international market
with his music for all three seasons of Borgen. The show is screened
throughout the world; in the US, Newsweek recently hailed it as the best political
show ever made.
Since 1993, his signature style, fusing electronics with classical orchestral sounds,
has been heard in more than 20 features, five television series, and many documentaries
and short films. His work has won four Danish Academy Soundtrack Awards and two Danish
Grammys, and his music for Borgen won the prestigious Fipa d’Or Grand
Prize for Best Original Soundtrack 2011. Outside Denmark some of his large-scale
orchestral scores have been recorded in London and Prague by leading orchestras, and
he has composed soundtracks for many international films. In addition to Borgen,
he has composed soundtracks for other major TV series and documentaries.
Halfdan started his career in music as a bass player in a variety of Danish bands in
the early 1980s before joining the group Laid Back, then signed to BMG Records. The
band’s international hits included “Sunshine Reggae,”
“Bakerman,” and “White Horse.” He later teamed up with
the Danish poet Dan Turèll and together they recorded two hit albums, winning
two Danish Emmys.
His degree is from Copenhagen’s Academy of Music, where he majored in
instrumentation, composition, orchestration, arranging and sound engineering. As a
senior figure in the Danish media, Halfdan is Chairman of the Danish Federation of
Film and Media Composers and is a leading campaigner for composers’ rights.
He works from his own film-music facility in Copenhagen.
translations of Danish poets such as Henrik Nordbrandt, Pia Tafdrup, Dan Turèll,
and many others have appeared widely in American literary journals such as American
Poetry Review, The Literary Review, New Letters, MidAmerican Review, and scores
He is currently working with the Danish composer Halfdan E to produce a CD recording
with musical background of Dan Turèll’s poetry—an English replication
of the two CDs which Turèll and Halfdan E made shortly before Turèll’s
death and which continue to be “best-sellers” in Denmark today. Translation
of these poems has been supported by a fellowship from the Danish Arts Council.
Kennedy has published more than 30 books of his own, including novels, story and
essay collections, literary criticism, translation, and anthologies. His most recent
publications include the novels of The Copenhagen Quartet—which have
been published for world-wide distribution by Bloomsbury Publishers USA and UK:
In the Company of Angels (2010), Falling Sideways (2011),
Kerrigan in Copenhagen (2013); and the fourth, Beneath the Neon Egg,
will appear in 2014.
Kennedy lives in Denmark and teaches at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s MFA