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PIP Biographies

Janus Kodal



Janus Kodal was born in the town of Aabenraa in the southern part of Denmark in 1968. The first of three children of Jens Kodal and Anne-Dorte Christensen, he received a closely attended upbringing by his young parents with a focus on vitality and activity. He father worked as a journalist for the National Danish Broadcasting organization and his mother was a supervisor for kindergartens.

Kodal was only 20 when he was accepted by the noted Copenhagen School of Creative Writing, at which time he moved to that city. At the age of 23 he published his first collection of poetry, Antologi (1991), with the noted publishing house Gyldendal. Two years later he received a national grant to write his second book, the long poem, ingentings mestre (masters of nothing), which has been described by some critics as the first major work of young Danish poetry.

During the mid-1990s Kodal widened his knowledge of world literatures through his editing of Copenhagen-based magazines, Banana Split and The Blue Gate, both of which were involved with translations and interpretations. He was responsible for the presentation of an array of voices in Copenhagen, including Gennadi Aygi, John Ashbery, Andrej Bitov, Haraldo de Campos, Michael Palmer, and Rosmarie Waldrop.

It was with Fyrsten Zibebes Bekendelse (The Confession of Prince Zibebe) that Kodal came into his own, poetically speaking, as he expanded his theme of the search for identity combined with his unique brand of irony. In his next book, I provincen (In the Rural Landscape), Kodal returned to his rural Danish upbringing.

Throughout these years, he also has traveled extensively, receiving a grant to study the oral literatures of West Africa. In 2004 his fifth collection of poetry, Seks suiter (Six Suites), was published, a work which reflected his new ethnic studies.


Antologi (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1991); ingentings mestre (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1994); Fyrsten Ziebebes bekendelse (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1998); In provinsen (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 2001); Picasso & Chronmeyer (Copenhagen: Basilisk, 2002); Seks suiter (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 2004)


Reprinted from Susanne Jorn, ed., The PIP Anthology of World Poetry of the 20 th Century, Volume 8: In Transit—Sixteen Contemporary Danish Poets (Los Angeles: Green Integer, 2007).

Copyright ©2007 by Douglas Messerli and Green Integer.

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