Johan Jönson's slaughterhouse

by on May.17, 2012

In case you didn’t see it, UK poet Michael Peverett (who by the way helped me a great deal with the translation of Transfer Fat) wrote a comment to the previous post about Johan Jönson with a link to his translation of a part of Jönson’s book Restaktivitet (Residual Activity). Here’s an excerpt:

139. The second feed was at one. You went with a large feed wagon in the corridors between the sties and dispensed pig feed, mixed with antibiotics and vitamins, into the feed-chutes. Your mouth and throat went dry from the dust that whirled up. It stuck a little in the eyes. You sweated. The dust-mask itched. Through the protectors you heard pigs’ noises when they ate and drank.

140. She says: What did it sound like?

141. I say: Like beings. Like animals. That crawl about. That emit sounds: gurgling, swallowing.

142. She says: Are they so helpless?

143. Well, they are looking forward!

144. There is no way back!

145. There is no way forward, either.

This part made me think of Ariana Reines’s The Cow, the way she uses appropriative techniques but with a keen interest in affect. In some ways, I think Reines is the American poet most like Jönson (though he’s of course older, more acclaimed, has written a great deal more): the interest in the grotesque, the use of appropriation as well as kind of “plain-spoken” editorializing, and perhaps most of all the challenging of easy division between author/speaker.

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