Erling Kittelsen, from Norway, has been writing since he was 14.years old, “as a way to survive,” he says. He was one of the poets in the 2015 Kistrech Poetry Festival, and says he was happy to participate in this festival, as he “loves the feeling of Africa.” Kittelsen has been to Africa four times before. He reminisces, “ I was in Tanzania long time ago, for my own writing and understanding.” His second trip was to “Mali because of a theatre play,” and as a result of his participation in that production, he traveled and performed “all over the country.” Another trip took him to, Namibia/Botswana, where he attended a dance festival in Kalahari, but the main reason for his visit was to learn about the San people.
Poet, novelist, children’s writer, playwright and translator, Kittelsen made his literary debut in 1970 with the poetry collection, Wild Birds, which he describes as “meditation pictures.” His poem, “How to Fly,” is one such example.
we throw you
off the cliff
do you know how to fly?
Considered an experimental poet with a strong social consciousness, Erling Kittelsen draws from fables, legends and oral poetry from various cultures. His work is in defense of social and cultural concerns, as well as the environment and some of the negative effects of technology. Kittelsen was awarded the Mads Wiel Nygaard’s Endowment in 1982, the Aschehoug Prize in 1990, and the Dobloug Prize in 2002.
Speaking about his participating in the Kistrech Poetry Festival, Erling Kittelsen says, “It was very interesting for me because of the other participants and the good feeling of Africa that learn me a lot.”