Peter Nyberg, the chief editor of a foremost Swedish poetry magazine, Popular Poetry is making a visit to Dhaka to take part in the National Poetry Festival and book fair in February this year. Prior to his visit, this Scandinavian literary critic, essayist, poet and novelist talks to Bengali poet and playwright Anisur Rahman talks to this Scandinavian literary talent.
What are you expecting to see and do during your visit to Dhaka and participation in the National Poetry Festival in February 2015?
Most of all I want to see Dhaka and get an impression of Bangladesh as a country and I am curious about the citizens' cultural habits. For a swede Bangladesh is very exotic. On the poetry matter I am going to read my own work and talk a bit about the Swedish poetry scene and the state of our literary magazines.
How do you see the prospects of literary exchange between Bangladesh and Sweden after the 100 years of the Nobel Award 1913 to Rabindranath Tagore?
The invitation to your National Poetry Festival is significant for a literary exchange between Sweden and Bangladesh. During my visit I am going to talk with some of your poets about travelling to Tranas (the small town where I am living in Sweden) for a three week long period during which he/she will have time to write and live together with five other authors from Ireland, Sweden and Wales in what is called Yeats International Literary Residency - from another of the Nobel prize winners: W. B. Yeats. Tagore is, though, a poets? poet in Sweden. During this last year I have heard many poets in Sweden claim that Tagore has been the basis or even the main inspiration to their work.
What is the state of literary magazine for instance poetry magazine in Sweden today?
Poetry has a double role in Sweden. For most of the people it is very strange and insipid. I think poetry has become an exclusive elitist and intellectual movement during 1990-2000. On the other side poets get space in newspapers and magazine as experts on the subjects they write about. Though, this implies that Poetry Magazines is very small but Literary Magazines that have a broader entry to literature and can explore the most popular of our writers, such as the Swedish Noir-tradition (which content of detective stories), has a lot of readers and gain a larger public. After 2010 I think there have been some efforts to make literature more public as a result of bad reading result in schools. That?s where my Poetry Magazine, Popular Poetry (in Swedish Popul?r Poesi) comes in. We try to make this quite elitist poetry common.
How much do you know about the state of post-Tagore Bengal poetry?
Not much at all, I have to admit. In Swedish there is only one translation from Bengal, as far as I now, and it is called Bengaliska moln (Bengal Clouds) and content of 17 modern Bengal poets. As I remember I enjoyed Taslima Nasrin best, I recall her poetry as sharp and dark humoristic and I really enjoyed reading her. My magazine Popular Poesi published a review on this book.
What are you reading and writing now?
I got two personal writing projects: Poetry about the Swedish school from teacher perspective and short stories with a magic realism influence. I translate the Bengal poet Anisur Rahmans poetry and I Irish poet, Anthony Jones dito. Right now I am reading way too much at once: A great finish poet, Helena Sinervo, whom I will write a review about. I also read one of my favorite Swedish authors, Sara Stridsberg, and especially her four novels, to write an essay about the perverted family situations in her authorship. For my own pleasure I read The Best American Essays from 2013 and Lars Gustafssons novel Tennisspelarna (The tennis players in translation).
How the literary scenes in Bangladesh can be benefited from the modern tradition of Swedish literature?
I have no idea! Basically because I don?t know much, hardly anything, about the literary scene in Bangladesh yet. But I think literary exchange is an excellent start to get to know some about our different literary qualities and I am sure to be influenced by visiting Bangladesh and the National Poetry Festival in February.
In 2009 Peter, together with an associate, founded a magazine on poetry, Popul?r Poesi (Popular Poetry) which in 2013 was awarded by The Swedish Academy.
The magazine is published in two ways, in paper and on the web. It is published four times a year. Popul?r Poesi tries to broaden the way ordinary people in Sweden relate to poetry, for instance by analysis of lyrics in songs, classic poetry and newly written poetry.
As an essayist Peter Nyberg won a 2 000-euro-award in the Hans Ruin Competition by triangulating the American reporter Nelly Bly, who for ten days infiltrated a psychiatric institution in 1885, with his wife's depression and the hopelessness of being next of kin.
He has also published an amount of essays on poetry and one essay on the western way
of living compared with currents of the romantic era in western literature.
Peter Nyberg studied History, Literature, Swedish language, Religion, Psychology at various universities.
He teaches Swedish, History and Religion in Tranas at Holavedsgymnasiet, a pre-university college. In 1995 he was an examiner on writing course at a Swedish college.
He is the initiator of a poetry contest for high school students and for professionals and also this year co-organizer of the Dylan Thomas Literary Residence in Tran?s.