The poetry of Sigurbjörg Þrastardóttir is posted for all to read inside the elevator at the Reykjavik Public Library. Along with Andri Snær Magnason and Auður Jónsdóttir, Þrastardóttir is one the leading voices of the youngest generation of Icelandic writers. Readers in Iceland have known Sigurbjörg Þrastardóttir since she published her first volume of poetry, Blálogaland (Land of Blue Flames), in 1999. Since then she has published various dramatic works and prose texts as well as three other books of poetry. She has won prestigious national literary awards and her poetry has been translated into eleven languages. In recent years Sigurbjörg Þrastardóttir has presented her work at poetry festivals in countries including France, Italy, Germany, and Croatia. After originally appearing exclusively in Icelandic, the poems presented in this issue of eXchanges are now available in a bilingual Icelandic-English edition entitled To bleed straight, published by Forlagið. To bleed straight is dedicated to the memory of her English translator, Bernard Scudder, who passed away in 2007. Sigurbjörg Þrastardóttir worked closely on the poems presented here both with him and with her German translator, Kristof Magnusson.
Sigurbjörg Þrastardóttir, born in 1973, grew up in the small town of Akranes and is now living in Grafarvogur, a relatively new suburb of Reykjavik. Suburban life has always been an important topic in Sigurbjörg’s poetry. For many decades prosperous Reykjavik has been sprawling further and further, every five years a new outpost was cut into the lava to make way for ever bigger houses, connected by well-lit streets to the closest shopping mall—where driving is essential in order to maintain relationships and avoid isolation. It is this very backdrop of suburban austerity that enables the speaker in many of Sigurbjörg’s poems to contemplate modern life and raise the question of whether, even in suburbia, boredom is at all possible—or if normalcy has already stumbled over itself and given way to frantic hysteria.