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Seriously Well by Helge Torvund

Seriously Well by Helge Torvund

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From one of Norway's best-known poets, Helge Torvund's Seriously Well is a book-length poem that explores the charac­teristics and limits of poetic incantation in relation to memory and illness. With spare lines and simple language, Torvund layers intimate recollections of nature, childhood, and ultimately a personal illness, and his deeply affecting acceptance of death. But Seriously Well is not a poem of mourning; rather it is one of expectation, experience, and of "a confidence that told me/ the very best thing to do for me/ was to be where I am, / be alive/ in that which is." Translated from Norwegian by its author, Seriously Well is the first full-length book of Torvund's poetry to appear in English.


This far-reaching and highly readable book-length sequence by the prize-winning Norwegian poet Helge Torvund begins as a poetic treatise on the power of poetry and the imagi­nation, then shape-shifts to become a personal journey and phil­osophical search that ranges through memories, vivid passages of natural imagery, and stories within stories that sometimes read like real-life parables. The eventual crisis of the speaker's illness leads through a darkness which, once embraced, gives way to an expansive acceptance that feels both particular and, as in an ancient text, beyond time.
- Jeffrey Harrison

In this extraordinary poem, Helge Torvund, one of the finest living Norwegian poets, contemplating the magical role of poetry turns to a series of meditations on the mysteries of life and death, memory and place, love and homelife, illness and acceptance. We are given a vision of "a connected whole / where we can / open our hearts / and be filled by / peace, confidence, / by light."
- Micheal O'Siadhail


Helge Torvund was born in Ha, Norway in 1951, and lives with his wife near the South-West coast of Norway. He has pub­lished over two dozen collections of poetry, along with children's books, essays, and translations. In 2018 he was awarded the Dobloug Prize from the Swedish Academy. His children's book Vivaldi (NYRB, 2019) was included in Flavorwire's 20 Most Beautiful Children's Books of All Time.

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