Morten Langeland

Norway

Morten Langeland (b. 1986) had his debut with the critically acclaimed poetry collection Æ æ å in 2012. In 2016 he was awarded the Stig Sæterbakken Memorial Award for promising young writers. Langeland also works as a literary critic in the norwegian left wing newspaper Klassekampen`s weekly literary supplement Bokmagasinet, and he is a part of the editorial staff at the independent publishing house H//O//F. The well read and respected daily Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten called him «one of our most exciting poets» in 2020. In the atumn of 2020 he published his first book of prose Barbar, also to critical acclaim.


Thus spoke the baboon

 

Noen ganger i livet ta på seg bavianansiktet/ få øye på menneske, med dets sprekker/

Now and then through life wear the baboon face/ get a glimse of human being, with its cracks 

 

So speaks Morten Langelands narrator in his not-so-known second collection of poems, Bavian (Baboon) from 2014. Like a portrait of a very young poet, the sentence may serve as an illustration of Langelands method as a poet: 

 

It is Langelands vision; the way he regards life, the world around him – and the litterature from which his own writing derives – that makes his authorship unique. With an open and – as far as time is regarded – sensitive glance, Langeland writes poems that touches upon almost any theme or motif. 

 

“Something as rare as poetry that gives voice to a mackerel,” writes a critic of Norwegian student paper Studvest about Langeland’s debut ÆÆÅ in 2012. But even though the poems dives into the ocean, they depict deeply human issues. They are songs that glides like just another silvery and shimmering fish, through the landscape of the underwater. It is humouros, yet always written with a sense of importance. What’s in play in the book? Ecology; the complex interaction between individuals and society. 

The poems of his debut were written in Langelands dialect – the language of the south of Norway. By coincidence, writing in dialect was a trend amongst debutants that year. And Langeland was in the midst of this – his dialect differing quite a lot to the Norwegian written languages.  

 

But it would not be the dialect-part of his authorship that Langeland cultivates when writing his second book. Bavian, 2014, has also taken a step up from the water onto dry land, where the poet looks upon everything with this langelandesque glance. The way this narrator views human kind is again humorous. And always regarded within the context of zoology.

 

“Meaning requires a certain naivety,” writes Langeland in his third collection – Den egentlige kommunen (The real municipality - 2015), and discloses “the real poet”. These poems show the mature and complete poet. Langeland succeeds in writing the most traditional genres in a way that feels new and unknown: nature poems and love poems as you knew them will look different after reading this collection. And Langelands rather meta-like statement about meaning and naivety, which introduces the book, proves to be a key sentence of his work. In this way Langeland fuses his linguistic work with the theme – be it the more basal or the most sophisticated of issues. Natural history. Love.   

Now perhaps Langeland’s background too comes to its right. Afterall his profession is analysis of litterature and of ideas: 

 

Langeland was born in the southern, Norwegian town of Kristiansand in 1986. He attended the Katedralskole, which is the more demanding gymnasium in town. 18 years old he had his first poem published in the national newspaper Dagbladet. And after graduation from Katedralskolen, he moved to Oslo. He studied literary studies and history of ideas, before emarking on training as an author at Hordaland Academy of creative writing, and the Creative writing studies in Bø. He is himself an experienced and awake reader, whom works as a literary critic for the leading literary newspaper Klassekampen Bokmagasinet. Langaland’s been teaching creative writing, and he is a part of the editorial team of one of the most exciting indie-publishers of Norway: House of foundation. 

 

His books coming will to an even fuller extent show the trained author. The genre is sonetts, title Zoonetter (Zoonetts), and the motifs just what the awake Versepolise reader imagine. Yes, yet again we’re within the realm of the animalic. The newspaper Fædrelandsvennen voted this book as one of the best books of the year. The critic nominated the book commented “This book is so full of oddities that it has an instant fascination factor.”

 

Last but not least of his poetry books is his 2019 collection Svamp (Sponge), which made the acclaimed critic Preben Jordal exclaim: No doubt – Morten Langeland is one of the most interesting poets there are (in Norway). This collection, perhaps his most personal to date, Langeland depicts childhood – through poetry, body, knowledge and forgetfulness – and via mobbing, collecting porn, and general laziness or playfullness. The book was on the long list for The Young Reading Critics Prize 2020. 

 

In the year of COVID-19 Langeland released yet another book. This time his first collection of short prose. Barbar (Barbarian) was published by Flamme Forlag, and confirmes the consistency of this authorship: call it prose, call it poetry: Langeland’s pieces of text will always create whole and complete works.

 

There is all reason to glimpse past cracks in our baboon faces and keep an eye out for this young yet established poet, whom so far has been rewarded the prestigeous Stig Sæterbakken Memorial Prize. 

 

Langelands debut came at the choosy publisher Kolon. His last four books are published by Flamme Forlag, a semi-indie imprint of the largest publishing house in Norway – Cappelen Damm.