Four Poems by Tóroddur Poulsen

Translated by Randi Ward

Under Black Sails


questioning why the fog’s green

is my goodnight to the godless

and my good evening

to a hasty summer

of trains that don’t run on time

and rain that always wants to be first

with the freshest of the fresh

so the dance can bloom

on the great sloom’s deck

as it heads straight into a glare of cold

where the comatose lie

awaiting passage home to the dull life

the superficial love

because they don’t think

there’s anything else

when a person can’t be

like a garbage truck in paradise

that’s forgotten its way

to the incinerator


Red-Hot Day


a red-hot day

under slanting walls

where book dust

phlegm and words

rally to the beat

of a heart

that wants out

to go sledding

and then pound

inside the snowman

it built

to that end


Dry Snow


when you cross the line

without leaving any tracks


for the sun to strike

and the hounds to run


you become barbed wire

snagging bird wings


and children start singing muffled songs

in dreams that take after this




he drives

his glass truck


while delivering

yet another pane

to replace

the smashed window

at the house

where poems

are condemned


Tóroddur Poulsen (1957) is a pioneering poet, graphic artist, and musician. He grew up in Tórshavn, the capital city of the Faroe Islands, during a period of intense socioeconomic and cultural transition. Since his literary debut in Varðin, Poulsen has published nearly forty books and become an inimitable force in Nordic literature. His colorful reading style and rebellious alter ego, The Garage God, have earned him a reputation as the “Punk Poet” of the Faroe Islands. He has twice received the M.A. Jacobsen Literature Award and recently won the Faroe Islands’ most prestigious cultural prize, Mentanarvirðisløn Landsins. Katrin Ottarsdóttir’s film, A Line A Day Must Be Enough (2008), documents the day-to-day life of Tóroddur Poulsen as well as his complicated relationship with his native archipelago.

Randi Ward is a writer, translator, lyricist, and photographer from West Virginia. She earned her MA in Cultural Studies from the University of the Faroe Islands and is a recipient of The American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Nadia Christensen Prize. Ward is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee whose work has appeared in Asymptote, Beloit Poetry Journal, Cimarron ReviewWorld Literature TodayAnthology of Appalachian WritersVencil: Anthology of Contemporary Faroese Literature, and other publications. For more information, visit her personal website.