Að laufferjum (1972) + Að brunnum (1974) is a poetry collection in two parts by Icelandic poet Ólafur Jóhann Sigurðsson that won the ‘Nordic Council Literature Prize‘ in 1976. Sigurðsson grew up under simple rural circumstances and was taught school during winters by a travelling teacher: at the age of 15, he walked to Reykjavik with the objective to become a writer and after a great deal of initial trouble, he was able to study in Copenhagen and New York. His early works are novels written in the social-realism style, depicting Icelandic society’s modernisation process during the 20th century. He also published poetry, short stories and children’s books. ‘Að laufferjum/Að brunnum’ was the first Icelandic work to receive the ‘Nordic Council Literature Prize’: Sigurðsson expressed himself in a traditional lyric style in it. His poetry is imbued with a strong sense of nature, and he also uses natural phenomena in more symbolic ways, water in particular becomes an ambiguously used symbol: water as a source of life, as the origin, as a stream – he remembers a well, as hinted in the Icelandic title. According to the Adjudicating Committee, Ólafur Jóhann’s lyrical art and message connects traditions in Nordic poetry with the consciousness of the conflict-ridden situation of modern man, which, for this poet, is expressed in the tragic contrast between nature and a society controlled by technology.
Books, Copenhagen, Culture, Iceland, Literature, Reykjavík