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- The Music of Failure
Bill Holm

Address of the Fjallkona (Mountain Woman)
From Gimli 1944

Bókmenntir
- Settlement poems
by Kristjana Gunnars

The Sunfish
by David Arnason

Viđtöl
The Secret of the Vínarterta
A Series of Radio Broadcasts 1996

Jóhann Briem
Settlement poems by Kristjana Gunnars

Kristjana Gunnars was born in Iceland in 1948. She moved to the United States when she was 16, then moved to Canada in 1969 and has lived there since. She writes in English and is a well known poet and author in Canada. She has written poems, novels and short stories. She created a lot of interest when her first poetry books, Settlement Poems 1-2, were published in 1980. These came out following her research of various historical references, notably Icelandic and Western Icelandic. In the poems she interprets these references in her own individual way. The two poems below are taken from a section of the narrative of Jóhann Briem, which can also be found on the web. Published with cordial permission from the author.

JÓHANN BRIEM 2, V

no, not angelica
she doesn't kill
not the kind that grows
in the mountains in

hjaltastadathinghá

the root jón thorkelsson
from klúka ate
september 6, 1876

wasn't angelica, place

the gravedigging shovels
over him in a cross
carry his coffin around

the church, carry him
on your shoulders, turn him
around three times

clockwise, when the priest
throws open the spades
fill the grave quickly

trample down the mountain
with bare feet, two times

leave his grave flat when you go

let him throw no sundial
shadow when day circles over
when you finish his grave

leave no reminder
of angelica mountains, no
not angelica

she doesn't kill


JÓHANN BRIEM 2, VI


the weather on the day of death
depends on the deceased

a brutal man will be hard
to bury, like bjarni

sýslumadur halldórsson from thingeyri
buried 1773 in hailstorm
(they dropped the coffin head first
into a ditch

where he still lies
on his head, but he was a brutal
man) you go the way
of the life you lead

but anna, why anna the widow
(gudmundsdóttir from stedji
in thelamörk) what has she to do
with the old law

it may not work in new iceland
nothing works

the way anna walks
out on lake winnipeg, late winter
1877, the way she goes

without returning
that's how it is
you disappear out there

& depend nothing on goodness
it will always be brutal
with hail, blizzard

strike hard if you are


Efnisyfirlit Heimildir Tenglar Gestabók Póstur
Ritsjóri:  Ritstjórar:  Viđar Hreinsson og Jón Karl Helgason
Höfundur meginmáls:  Viđar Hreinsson
Hönnun og samsetning:  Anna Melsteđ
Vefur c 1999 RÚV 1999