La scrittice della Fær Øer – Umtala í Italia / Italian Interview

Í heyst fekk eg fyrispurning frá einum italskum tíðindamanni og høvunda, Anselmo Roveda, ið arbeiðir á italska barnabókmentatíðarritinum Andersen. Hann spurdi, um eg hevði hug at gera eina samrøðu til blaðið í samband við, at eg varð tilnevnd ALMA viðrislønina fyri 2019. Sjálvandi takkaði eg ja.

Samrøðan var gjørt við teldupostið, men tíverri fái eg ikki lisið greinina, tí italskt er tíverri ikki eitt mál eg havi lært, hóast eg sera væl kundi hugsa mær at duga tað.

Beint upp undir jól fekk eg blaðið sendandi. / Just befor christmas I recieved the magazine by mail.

In the fall, I got a question from an Italian journalist and writer, Anselmo Roveda, who works at the Italian children’s book magazine Andersen. He asked if I would like to make an interview with him on the occasion of my ALMA nomination for 2019. Of course I accepted.

The interview was made by mail, but I can’t read the article, since Italian is unfortunately a language I still have to learn.

Greinin “Rakel Helmsdal – La Scrittice della Fær Øer candidata all’Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award” er bygd á hesa samrøðuna, sum varð gjørd á enskum: / This is the interview behind the article “Rakel Helmsdal – La Scrittice della Fær Øer candidata all’Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award”. It was made in English:

Anselmo Roveda: It’s a great source of satisfaction to be nominated at the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, but, I suppose, it’s also an honour and a great recognition to the whole Faroese literature. How did you get to know about it? How did your country get the news?

Rakel Helmsdal: It’s Rithøvundafelagið, the Writers Association in the Faroe Islands, that nominates the Faroese author for the prize, so I was told by the association. It’s of cause a great honour for me to be chosen as the only Faroese author ever nominated for the prize.

AR: You are a children’s books novelist, but you also write for puppetry theatre and for adults and young adult’s readers. How do you usually understand that the story you’re imagining and writing fits for a certain public of readers? 

RH: I don’t so much think of myself as a writer for a specific age, I’m a storyteller, so I tell stories to people, to human beings. When I work on an idea, the age of the receiver is not really in my mind, it comes later, as the idea develops. In this way my stories, (books, plays, artworks) very often somehow fall between age groups. Many of my children stories are best when they are read by adults and children together.

AR: Where do your interest in children’s literature come from? Which characteristics do you think a book for children and young adults should have?

RH: I think I never grew out of children literature. I have always liked them best, and it has been an unmeasurable joy for me to share these books with my own children.

It’s like there are less limits and boarders in children literature, everything is permitted, only the imagination is the limit of what you can tell and how you can tell it. I feel freer when I create for children.

Really, I don’t think, there is such a difference between adult and children literature. Good literature has no age limits. For instance, take the books of Tove Jansson. I have read them over and over again, both myself and to my children and both the ones that are classified for children and those, who are classified for adults have been a joy to us all.

If I should try to define, what a children book is, then it is a book for everybody, while a book for adults mostly is for adults. 😊 The topics is subordinate, it’s just a different ways to tell the story. There are things you might leave out in a children book, but children are clever, they understand most everything, even the bits you leave out. And also, it is not overly important to understand everything, there are different ways to understand, and there is not one way, that is more correct than another. That’s the wonder of art.

AR: And what about your passion for puppetry? Where does it come from? In which ways is a text for a book different from a text for a show? Which are, in your opinion, the main strength on one side and the limitations on the other of these two kinds of writing?

RH: My passion for puppetry is related to my passion for theatre. I was only 9, when I first wrote a play, and later I have participated in all stages of a theatre production, such as actor, director, producer, light, sound, scenography and costumes.

To turn my own stories into marionet theatre was a way for me to combine 3 passions, storytelling, theatre and creating things with my hands. The marionet theatre has also opened a path for me to make pictures so I have now found a way to illustrate my own stories. The marionet theatre has given me a way to live of what I love, to tell stories. My books get another dimension when I stage them for the theatre and both artforms complement each other.

AR: You’re a bearer of Faroese literature and culture (you was president of the Faroese writer’s association Rithøvundafelag Føroya and the awards get by your books grant a lot of exposure to Faroese literature), but your literary perspective is quite international, thanks to the languages which dot your life and your books: there’s English as a contact language; French, because of the years spent in France; Danish, of course, and other Scandinavian languages, but also, thanks to the translations, there are Spanish and Chinese. What does identity mean for you? How do languages affect identity?  What kind of relationship there is between particular (promoting one’s cultural and linguistic tradition) and universal (relating with other people and the rest of the world)?

RH: Identity is very closely related to language, it influences the way we think and therefore how we express ourselves. It links people together, and it can unfortunately also be used to exclude people.

Being bilingual from birth (my father is Danish, and my mother is Faroese) my own identity is mixed. I find it easy to switch between languages so even if count myself as Faroese and have deliberately chosen the Faroese language as my written language, the language I create in, I also feel cosmopolitan, just a small part of a wide world.

I think it is very important to continue to write in the small languages, as these are a part of the universal mind. A language is a way of reflecting, thinking and dreaming that has a certain aspect that you will not find in another language, that was formed and shaped by the other circumstances. A language is formed by time, nature, politics and more and these are particular to any place on Earth. If we lose any of these languages, we will lose a little part of the human mind.

I find it important to write in Faroese, even if the subjects I write about are not particularly Faroese and that most events don’t happen in Faroe Islands. The language is what makes the difference and what identifies the work. The language affects my mindset.


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