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Translation Tuesday: Why am I so sad when I am so cute / Por qué estoy tan triste si soy tan mona (Ingvild Lothe)

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Translation Tuesday is an on-going series of translations focused on contemporary Scandinavian literature. In this first edition of Translation Tuesday Sheri and Neus have translated two poems from Ingvild Lothe’s Hvorfor er jeg så trist når jeg er så søt into English and Spanish.

Why am I so sad when I am so cute is a collection of isolation and longing, of childhood aches and adolescent sorrow, of shame and desire. Throughout the collection, the most mundane activities (bathing, shaving) contort painfully into grotesque, darkly absurd images, as the narrator’s innards are repeatedly flipped inside out, and hung to dry. The book swings between brutal honesty and irony, as she tries to find her place within a contemporary Scandinavian society steeped in Netflix and devoid of human connection. The body becomes a physical medium through which the text presents and exposes the female self.

Ingvild Lothe is a Norwegian poet born in 1990. She studied creative writing at Forfatterstudiet in Bø (Norway) and lives in Oslo. Hvorfor er jeg så trist når jeg er så søt is her first poetry collection.




I miss being eight years old and not having ruined my life
we’re talking about extreme conditions here that I neither can
nor want to talk about
like for example              being eight years old and not having ruined one’s

when the waves hit
it’s with a tenderness
that you don’t find in other hitting
like for example              when dad hits mom

when I hold my breath under water
it’s for practical reasons
not because I’m afraid
like for example              when I hold my breath
and tiptoe from my bed to the bathroom
to pee on the porcelain
and never in the water

when my brother and I sit in the bathtub until our skin looks like
we’re a hundred years old
and the water gets cold and we pee in the water
just to stay warm, to bear it




Echo de menos tener ocho años y no haber destruido mi vida
estamos hablando de estados de los que ni puedo
ni quiero hablar
como por ejemplo              eso de tener ocho años y no haber destruido su

cuando las olas rompen
lo hacen con una ternura
que no existe en otros golpes
como por ejemplo              cuando papá pega a mamá

cuando aguanto la respiración bajo el agua
es por razones prácticas
y no por miedo
como por ejemplo              cuando aguanto la respiración
y voy de hurtadillas de la cama al baño
para mear en la porcelana
y nunca en el agua

cuando mi hermano y yo nos quedamos en la bañera hasta que nuestra piel parece
tener 100 años
y el agua se enfría y nos meamos en ella
como para mantener el calor, como para aguantar



I washed my body, my hair, my hands,
took off my nail polish.

I shaved my armpits, my vagina, my head,
scrubbed the shiny skull.

I washed away my mouth, my lips, my ability to speak,
everything I’d ever said.

I took out my contacts, pulled out my eyeballs,
everything I’d ever seen.

A clean slice across the middle,
and my skin slid off in every direction.

I pulled out my insides, rinsed them in the sink,
hung them up to dry on the balcony.

Small intestine, large intestine, rectum.  



Me lavé el cuerpo, el pelo, las manos
me quité el esmalte de las uñas.

Me depilé los antebrazos, las ingles, la cabeza
exfolié el cráneo brillante

Me lavé la boca, los labios, el habla,
todo lo que alguna vez dije.

Me quité las lentillas, me arranqué el globo ocular
todo lo que alguna vez vi.

Un corte limpio en medio,
y mi piel salió disparada en todas direcciones.

Me arranqué las entrañas, las enjuagué en el fregadero,
las tendí a secarse en el balcón.

Intestino delgado, intestino grueso, recto.


This excerpt from Hvorfor er jeg så trist når jeg er så søt is published by permission of Kolon Forlag and © Ingvild Lothe. Translation copyright © 2018 by Sherilyn Hellberg and Neus Casanova Vico.

Featured image by Krister Kanck

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