from Roman Nights
by Martin Glaz Serup, translated by Christopher Sand-Iversen


Outside the hotel a boy is at work with his father
they water the lawn green
they inspect the little bushes and beds
there’s such a tenderness in the way
the man introduces his son to the rules of the labour market
the little pleasures of everyday life, the breaks
something they share
with Capital, if it actually exists
ensconced in such a gloomy singular
Capital that glues everything together
like a kind of wallpaper paste
Capital which never sleeps and so on
unlike me: I’m as tired as a rocking horse
I’m as tired as a sock, I’m more tired than the train

Last night I awoke with a shock in my body
I shook and shook but couldn’t get it out
it was cold, I was hungry and tired
I went to bed again, I should have got up

It’s normal not to give a shit about anything
and simultaneously constantly want to be loved by everybody
I want to be loved by everybody -
but where do I go to do that

It’s as if the coagulated clot of smokers
in front of the establishment’s doors
share something
I don’t have

I stand outside outside
and without rain the grass doesn’t grow
it’s a fact
I speculate on all the way home to the hotel
where it’s grown so dark -
you can’t see the grass
but apparently I comfort myself with such images
even though it’s not clear to me what grass has to do with identity
or loneliness
it grows from the middle and the colour is hopeful
what else, there’s loads of it, everyone has it

Then I get a feeling that the image is wrongly composed
then I get my keys in the reception
then I go up to my room
then I feel just as sad as an electric lamp
         which has been on all night
         must feel when daylight comes
then I lie down in my freezing cold bed sheets
then I sleep









Being able to remember your dreams is a strange privilege
all these dreams

The feeling in your hand the day after chopping firewood
the soreness, where does it come from
the joints ache, as though looking for an answer, indeed, from the axe
from the tree, from their meeting

This is what the mornings are like in my little house

The first thing I do is to search for these names
which stay in the body after sleep
like a residue, directionless
clouds, friends you could have had, ghosts
but they’re gone
Paula von Seth, who’s she
she’s gone
the rest of my day remains, or rather:
it hangs across me, like a discreetly judging agent
Strange slogans roll out of the dream
The state is witty and weedy! The radio is growling!
the radio isn’t growling, the radio is clearing its throat, the radio is emptying me
with a programme about space travel and children’s rights

The morning in fog has an albino-like glow to it

I once heard a woman say of white horses
that she hated them -
all of them -
because she could see the veins through the skin
outside the elder blossoms in a ghostly bloom
the elderflower has many eyes, ghostly

This is also what the mornings are like in my little house

They see nothing, the rest of the day remains
they sniff their way along, like a discreetly judging authority
like a life that importunes, an importunate gaze, a movement that’s underway
carefully: pushing
towards something, a point, an edge

It’s okay to write the story of how you learned to write
with your left hand, the right was broken
in an ugly fall down the stairs at two in the morning
but to write the story of how you found yourself
through strong will, luck and talent
how you became everything, everything you see before you
a dagger, a heat-oppressed brain, this glowing
this glowing being, this glowing intellect
lord preserve us, do spare us those words

Tell about the time you stood in your kitchen
and scalded yourself on purpose
and wanted to exist
and were afraid of being found to exist
but I don’t want to hear any more about it

I fall asleep in the strangest places
I have to keep myself awake
fear doesn’t exist in the dark
at night the others are asleep, the telephone doesn’t
ring, no one wants anything of me, it’s a relief
to founder, the others are all about to slosh over
the others are all waiting for someone to confide in
they miss the high spirits, the carefree student days, the quietude
of the nights when they sat in their rooms and read until late
we all do, for life is different now –

Other thoughts also spread a rare joy, a glow, at the bottom of it all
a flower, a fire, a careful white autumn sun
so heartening, waning, yes -

This is what the mornings are like in my little house
silent, white, alive -











Martin Glaz Serup was born in 1978 and lives in Copenhagen. He has published seven children’s books, most recent an illustrated collection of stories entitled Yana and Eliah (and many other children) (2013, illustrations by Lilian Brøgger), four chapbook-essays, as well as seven collections of poetry, most recently Roman nights (2013, forthcoming in Sweden 2014)and the long poem The Field (2010), which was also published in USA (2011), Sweden (2012) and Finland (2013). In 2013 Serup published his first booklenght theoretical essay Relationel poesi. Serup was the founding editor of the literary journal Apparatur (2001-2004) and of the Nordic web-magazine for literary critism Litlive (2004-2008). Also he is the former managing editor of the poetrymagazine Hvedekorn (2005-2007). He has been teaching creative writing at The University of Southern Denmark and at the writer's school for children's literature at The University of Aarhus and is now working as a ph.d.-student at the University of Copenhagen. In 2006 Serup received the Michael Strunge Prize for poetry and in 2008 he recieved a Gold medal from The University of Copenhagen for his dissertation of Poetry and Relational Aesthetichs, which is now being prepared for a book at the University Press of Southern Denmark. In 2012 he was awarded the prestigious three-year grant (approximately 145.000 USD) from the Danish Art's Council. He is blogging at and with the literary collective Promenaden at 


2010-(14)    - Ph.d.-student at the University of Copenhagen
2010-11      - External Examiner at the Writer's Preparation Course (FGK) in Holsterbro 
2009-10      - External Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Southern Denmark
2008-          - External Lecturer at The Writer's School in Copenhagen (Forfatterskolen)
2008-10      - Lecturer at the Writer's School for Childrens Literature (Forfatterskolen for Børnelitteratur) at the University of Århus
2008            - External Senior Lecturer in Comparative Literature at the University of Copenhagen
2007-           - Member of the Nordic Free Seminar of Literary Critism (Fria Seminaret i Litterär Kritik)
2006-2007 - Secretary for the Nordic Network of Avant-Garde Studies
2006             - Danish Editor on the Nordic poetrymagazine Nypoesi (member of the editorial board 2004-2006)
2005-2007 - Assistent Editor of the poetrymagazine Hvedekorn
2005-           - Member of the Literary Critic's Guild (in the board 2006-)
2004-2008 - Student of Modern Culture and Cultural Dissemination at the University of Copenhagen (MA 2008)
2004-2008 - Founding Editor of the Scandinavian literary review Litlive.
2002-2004 - The Writer's School in Copenhagen (Forfatterskolen)
2001-2004 - Founding Editor of the literary magazine Apparatur (editor-in-chief  2002-2003, member of the editorial board 2008-2012)
1999-2002 - Student of Danish Literature and International Art History at the University of Southern Denmark and the University of Copenhagen (BA 2002)
1998-1999 - Conscript in the Royal Danish Army (13 months)
1994-1997 - Rødovre Gymnasium


Regular reviews, articles, columns etc. in various magazines and papers - among those is Kristianstadsbladet (Swedish, 2002-2005), Fyens Stiftstidende (2002-2005), Bogmarkedet (2008-2009) and Standart (2009-2011)

Readings in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Finland, The Czech Republic, Bosnia-Herzegovina, USA, France, Indonesia, Russia, Lithuania, Scotland, England and Nicaragua.

Translations published in magazines and anthologies in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Bosnia-Herzegovina, India, Canada, USA, Nepal, Nicaragua, Iceland, Lithuania, Serbia, Indonesia, Guatamala and Mexico.