Anna Axfors

Sweden

Anna Axfors, born in 1990, made a name for herself in the summer of 2015, when she initiated a debate in the Swedish tabloid paper Aftonbladet about the plight of young poets looking to make their debut.  Axfors is literary active in a number of ways and on various parallel platforms. The 2015 poetry collection ”Veckan innan” (”The Week Before”) was published by Norwegian chapbook publisher AFV Press and her poetry has appeared in literary magazines such as 10TAL and Floret. Axfors is running the poetry blog ”Vi som aldrig skrev prosa” (”We that never wrote prose”) together with the poet Elis Burrau, with whom she is also the initiator to the micro publishing company ”Fame Factory”. In July 2016, Axfors were listed as being among the twenty 


Being young and living in a consumerist society

 

The Swedish poet Anna Axfors, born in 1990, made a name for herself in the summer of 2015, when she initiated a debate in the Swedish tabloid paper Aftonbladet about the plight of young poets looking to make their debut. She attacked the oft-expressed opinion that there’s a shortage of young, promising authors in Sweden, arguing instead that the major publishing houses show a discouraging lack of interest in contemporary young writers and turn a blind eye to the new forms of expression that poetry takes today. Her article sparked an intense debate between poets, authors and literary critics in Sweden that lasted for several months, and became one of the most heated literary discussions of the year. In interviews, Axfors has advocated for digital publishing forms for poetry and the cultivation of a DIY culture in the literary world. She has also promoted a type of poetry that is more attainable to a broader public, and with a more candid poetic address.

 

Axfors’ writing is indeed also characterised by a straightforward, simple and spontaneous address, through which evokes an everyday life of sex, Twitter, wage labor, writing and boredom. Axfors is literary active in a number of ways and on various parallel platforms. The 2015 poetry collection ”Veckan innan” (”The Week Before”) was published by Norwegian chapbook publisher AFV Press and her poetry has appeared in literary magazines such as 10TAL and Floret. She also regularly tweets poetry on her Twitter account. Axfors is running the poetry blog ”Vi som aldrig skrev prosa” (”We that never wrote prose”) together with the poet Elis Burrau, with whom she is also the initiator to the micro publishing company ”Fame Factory”, that specialises on publishing young, non-established poets in PDF:s and distributing them for free on their Facebook page. In July 2016, Axfors and Burrau were listed as being among the twenty most important Swedish poets under 40 by daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

 

Burrau and Axfors have in Sweden come to represent a young generation of poets born in the 90s, who use alternative forms of distribution and publishing, with influences from both the American and Danish poetry scene. The Swedish literary critic Victor Malm has written: ”In short, one could view [Burrau and Axfors] as part of a larger Scandinavian formation, where the Norwegian chapbook publisher AFV Press stands in the center and where influence is drawn partly from the American blognik poetry (a word Tao Lin, only ironically, uses in Shoplifting from American Apparel), partly from the young Danish poetry, which has reclaimed the lyrical ’I’, by letting the ’I’ become weak, vulnerable, something that is created rather than creates.”

 

”Veckan innan” contains seven poems, in which Axfors uses a personal, outspoken and very intimate first person address. The collection revolves around the everyday life of a young woman and touches on a number of topics: loneliness, sexual encounters with men, a painful love story, working a full-time job, having to masturbate after work to keep oneself awake. Axfors’ style of writing is on the one hand marked by the elevated and poetical, on the other the colloquial and pop-cultural, fluctuating quickly and playfully between the two.

 

She consciously plays with clichés, poetical platitudes and exalted moods – in one moment quoting Clarice Lispector, in the other lyrics from songs by Britney Spears and The Weeknd, or referring to the Swedish pop music artist Carola. Her writing is characterised by humor and irony, but the frequent use of clichés and worn out phrases does not only convey ironic self-distance, but also expresses an earnestness and sincerity: an aesthetic that could be called post-ironic. Her style of writing shares characteristics with and draws influences from authors such as Swedish Inger Edelfeldt and French-Algerian Nina Bouraoui.

 

There’s surprisingly little blood in the documentary about the Holocaust

which makes me think this:

we can say what we want to

we can spread all over the sky

the blood is still secret in our bodies

 

*

 

I probably have the ability to drive someone crazy

I promise that no one who’s met me will ever forget me

no money, no family, 16 in the middle of Miami

 

Axfors writes penetratingly about being young and living in a consumerist society. ”Veckan innan” could be described as tragicomic everyday realism: a depiction of a contemporary social reality where the membership catalog from the department store is the only thing that for a moment can bring colour to a disenchanted existence.

 

i work full-time now. to avoid lying down in bed and fall asleep directly when i come home i make my bed and on the top i put my blanket that i bought for 600 crowns on Åhléns. and that smelled so disgusting after my aunt had used it, because women smell disgusting. and it was because of this knowledge that women smell disgusting that i bought a perfume on Åhléns for 800 crowns because i know i’m becoming a woman

Yves Saint Laurent Paris

 

In ”Veckan innan”, Axfors depicts a distinctively female sphere of experience, on the verge of adulthood. The poems are permeated by a longing for love and intimacy, but also a disillusioned realization of the struggles and hardships of being a woman and trying to love in a sexist and misogynist world:

 

When I thought I had experienced love:

It wasn’t love, Anna, it was sex

When I thought I had experienced sex:

it wasn’t sex, Anna, it was prostitution

 

In November 2016, Axfors’ debut novel ”Kärleksbrevet” (”The love letter”) will be released by publishing house 10TAL Bok. ”Kärleksbrevet” is a fictional letter addressed to a dying mother by an adolescent woman. In 22 short passages the narrator describes, through introspective monologues, how she has been affected throughout her childhood by her mother’s drinking and lack of commitment. The literary style is characteristic of Axfors, shifting between romantic elevation and parodic self-irony, creating both a moving and humorous effect.

 

Viola Bao

Download Poetry booklet
by Anna Axfors