Founder of Hammer and Horn Productions, Michael Favala Goldman translates, promotes, and publishes Danish literature. Over 115 of his translations have appeared in more than 35 journals and his original poetry was published in Poet Lore, the Aurorean, The Fourth River, Silkworm, and other journals. He plays jazz clarinet and makes his home in Florence, MA. Books and more at: www.hammerandhorn.net.
Michael's piece appeared in Pond 45
Why do you write?
About six years ago I hung up my contractor’s toolbelt and transitioned to translating Danish literature, which I had read with adoration for three decades. The occupation of inhabiting Danish poets jump-started my own poetic voice, which had been semi-active my entire life. I write to try to be honest with myself, to communicate what I’m afraid to say, to recount the humor in the paradoxes of life, and share my findings with others.
What other creative activities are you involved in?
As a Danish translator I usually have multiple projects going at once. In the spring my translation of selected poetry by Erik Knudsen will be published. This fall my twelfth book, a translation of Tove Ditlevsen’s Dependency will be published as a Modern Classic by Penguin Random House. I also play jazz clarinet in Now’s the Time Jazz Ensemble. I just got a bass clarinet for my birthday and I’m humbled by learning a new instrument. I also love growing organic vegetables and managing firewood.
Who is your favorite author and why?
My favorite Danish poets are Benny Andersen, Knud Sørensen, and Marianne Koluda Hansen, all for their ability to intertwine accessibility with profound emotional depth and humor. My favorite American poetry book is probably The Porcine Canticles by David Lee. His use of dialect and stories of the farmer’s plight and duty is hilarious and tender. How many poets make you laugh out loud? When I am marooned on a desert island (which I often am) I want a book that makes me laugh at my predicament.
Tell us about the mechanics of how you write.
My method is to start anywhere and don’t pay too much attention. I most often write early in the morning, before I even get out of bed. My to-do list has not yet risen above the horizon, and I grab my pen and blank book. Sometimes I rehash the same ideas that have been plaguing me for a month or my entire life, sometimes I take inspiration from a book of quotations which I have been compiling since my teens. I try to let the words fall downhill out of the pen. I’m usually exhausted after five minutes. My goal is to write a poem every day. When I look at what I’ve written a week later perhaps, I often don’t remember writing it. Then I edit.
Finally, what do you think about Carp, the fish, not our website?
I was surprised to find out that my uncle left his carp in his little garden pool all winter. I guess I thought the humane thing to do would be to bring them inside so they could keep swimming around and have a normal life. But what do I know about fish. I stopped eating fish about five years ago. Now I only consume fish in poetry journals.