Paleontology and poetry: new poem by Ulven in translation

Posted on 23 Oct 2023
Image of Archaeopteryx lithographica.
Archaeopteryx lithographica, specimen displayed at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin.Image by H. Raab

Inspired by an ongoing discussion with Matthew Keenan on surrealism and poetry in the Ereignis forum and elsewhere, here is a new translation of one of the earliest published poems by Tor Ulven (1953-1995).

Ulven’s early work is playful, with surprising turns and unusual imagery. The central figure in this collection is the urfugl, or “original bird,” whose shade has given name to the book. The Archaeopteryx or “Urvogel” (German), was a genus of avian dinosaurs. Unlike contemporary birds it had teeth and jaws instead of a beak. The name derives from the ancient Greek ἀρχαῖος (archaīos), ancient, and πτέρυξ (ptéryx), feather or wing. In Ulven’s lifetime Archaeopteryx was regarded as the oldest known bird.

In this poem imagery from paleontology and sorcery meet with Ulven’s unique world-view. Read the poem in full here.

About Torgeir Fjeld
I have taught at many universities in North America, Europe, and Africa, including the University of Minnesota, Roehampton University, the University of Gdańsk, and the University of kwaZulu/Natal. I am Head of the Ereignis Center for Philosophy and the Arts, Publisher at Tankebanen forlag, and Editor-in-Chief of Inscriptions. My latest books are Introducing Ereignis: philosophy, technology, way of life and Perversion’s Beyond: life at the edge of knowledge. I have published many articles, editorials, and op-eds; you can read many of them for free by following links on the articles page. And here is a page entirely dedicated to poetry in translation! This site has a cookie policy.