Fra oversætterens introduktion til engelsk udgave af Brev i april
From the translator's introduction to"Light, Grass, and Letter in April"
New Directions, N.Y. 2011


“ … The Letter in April poems were written in collaboration with graphic artist Johanne Foss, who began their project with a series of charcoal-on-parchment drawings of Etruscan artworks and places. "The violent elements of Etruscan art fascinated me in those days," Foss recalls. Christensen and Foss had known each other for several years. Both had stayed, at one time or another, in an artists' residence (San Cataldo) near Amalfi, Italy. Both had explored Etruscan ruins. Both had studied the Etruscan collection at Copenhagen's Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum. Christensen, taken by Foss's images of things they both knew well, chose a set of drawings from the series and began a manuscript in response to them, folding the images into her writing. Foss continued to create drawings, feeding them to Christensen as they were completed.

Over the next two years, the project progressed. During the summer months Christensen and Foss worked from a cabin in southern Sweden while their children played together, the days long and light, wood anemones carpeting the forest. During the rest of the year they worked at their homes in Copenhagen -- again, while their children played. From her father, a tailor, Christensen had inherited a sewing machine and innumerable spools of colored thread. The children would festoon the rooms with thread, weaving it into multicolored webs and mazes, as Christensen wrote, weaving together elements of her life and the philosophical, metaphysical, linguistic, and semiotic issues that have consistently informed her work. (Note her incorporation of Heidegger's concept of worldlessness into Letter in April, as well as her focus on sign systems: "Tell me / that things / speak their own / clear language").

Christensen completed an initial prose manuscript but discarded it, dissatisfied. She began again. This time a poetry manuscript emerged, a slender ribbon of short lines and simple words in verbal and visual counterpoint to Foss's drawings. Of course, the poems' apparent simplicity is deceptive. Set against the lions, gorgons, shadow landscapes and grave mounds of an Etruscan netherworld, the poems wind inward, tracing an archetypal descent into a darkness where language itself fails, a labyrinth with a monster at its core.Yet the images also include the trees, fruits and flowers of a timeless Italian summer. And the poems turn, winding back outward again, following their threads away from the labyrinth and toward everything that has been in place all along: the natural world; the languages, spoken and unspoken, of everyday tasks -- the sign systems of child-rearing, daily errands, living as one human among others -- a rebirth into light. The white anemones of northern forests appear, as do the children's thread mazes, innocuous toy labyrinths as easy to navigate as any plaything.

... Fittingly, its first two pages also function as a double dedication. From poet to artist, a nuanced eight-line inscription in honor of their friendship and collaboration, "...our work with images, words, to bring all things back to the landscape they come from." From artist to poet, a delicate line of wildflowers from the hills of Italy.”

Susanna Nied