posted by Caroline Picard

This is the very next page of that same book, With Deer, by Aase Berg (Black Ocean Press, translated by Johannes Goransson).

In The Horrifying Land of Clay

There was an evil horse that galloped along the evil river in the horrifying land of clay. There was an evil horse that galloped with me on its back. Beneath the hair-strap his muscles moved and chafed against the muscles of my taut inner thighs which clamped down around his body. I was scared and breathless and dynamic for this tall evil horse was my enemy. We galloped across the field this empty day as it rained clay and lead and the snow lay half-melted here and there in the flaccid landscape. His hooves sank into the dung and muck. There was an evil horse that galloped across horrifying fields this evil day in the evil life, and I was on top. He galloped me across the furrows of plowed tired soil, across barren plots whose farmers lay dead and worm-eaten in ditches. There was an evil horse that galloped, and on the outskirts of the horrifying land the bears waited for us and stood on their hind legs and spread their claws. Up in the sky, buzzards floated in death-silent formations, preparing. I froze in my skin–it pined and chafed against the sharp wind that hurled its sharp drops against my egg-face. There was an evil horse that galloped through the horrifying land, and evil and dark horse with manhood and musculature, and I was thrilled to have him as my enemy.

“Aase Berg is a poet, literary critic and translator. She grew up outside Tensta in Stockholm, where she was born in 1967. Her first book, Hos rådjur (With Deer ), was published by Bonnier in 1997. This was followed by Mörk Materia (Dark Matter ), a book-length science-fiction prose poem, in 2000. Her third book, Forsla fett (Transfer Fat ), was nominated for the prestigious Augustpriser for the best poetry book of 2002. In 2005, she published her fourth book, Uppland. Her essays on literature and culture have appeared in BLM, Göteborgs-Posten and 00tal, among other places. She currently resides in Stockholm.”

With Deer

August 10, 2010

posted by Caroline Picard

What follows is an excerpt from “With Deer,” a book by Aase Berg, translated by Johannes Goransson; published by Black Ocean Press.


I came across this book at Open Books in Seattle. It’s rife with organs and blackness and ghoulish, exquisite terror. Like walking through a metal, psychedelic landscape with the back of your neck chilled and perplexing. I couldn’t put it down. This version also includes the original Swedish which is nice, as a constant reminder of the practice and processes of translation. I included an excerpt below, along with a sketch.

In The Guinea Pig Cave

There lay the guinea pigs. There lay the guinea pigs and they waited with blood around their mouths like my sister. There lay the guinea pigs and they smelled bad in the cave. There lay my sister and she swelled and ached and throbbed. There lay the guinea pigs and they ached all over and their legs stuck straight up like beetles and they looked depraved and were blue under their eyes as from months of debauchery. My sister puked calmly and indifferently: it ran slowly out of her slack mouth without her moving a single nerve. And the cave was warm as teats and full of autumn leaves and beneath the soil lay the arm of a mannequin. There lay the guinea pigs and ached and were made of dough. There lay the guinea pigs beside the knives that would slice them up like loaves. And my sister with lips of blueberries, soil and mush. In the distance, the siren bleated inhumanly. That is where the guinea pigs lay and waited with blood around their mouths and contorted bodies. They waited. And I was tired in my whole stomach from meat dough and guinea pig loaf and I knew that they would take revenge on me.