The Green Tent, translated by Harry Man

Culturally, Norway’s history as a mediator for peace and reconciliation dates back to the Cold War, setting the stage for historic agreements such as the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Accords, the civil wars in Mali and the ongoing efforts between Farc-EP and the Colombian government. This is in part what made 2011’s attacks so dissonant. On the 22nd July 2011 a lone wolf terrorist detonated a bomb outside the Government Quarter’s office blocks in Oslo, killing eight people and injuring a further 209, before driving 38km north to Utøya Island and the AUF (the Labour Party Youth) summer camp, committing a mass-shooting, killing 69 people. Afterwards, thousands took to the streets, holding up roses in memory of those who died. The 22 July Commission’s Gjorv Report described what occurred as, “the most shocking and incomprehensible acts ever experienced in Norway”. Many survivors and victims’ family members continue to suffer with PTSD and prolonged grief now, including difficulties holding down a job and building new relationships. It has been referred to frequently as the day Norway lost its innocence and was changed forever. In Ruset’s poem, he repeats the word ‘forvandlet’ meaning to ‘transform’ or ‘convert’. In English both have an aspect of ongoing mutability; a chest of drawers can be ‘transformed’ by a bold choice of colour, or a barn ‘converted’, though the physical dimensions of both might remain unaltered. The etymology of ‘forvandlet’ in Norwegian shares the English word ‘for’ with the Greek ‘and’ meaning ‘one’ or ‘man’ – so a kind of ‘for-one-ing’. Single or multiple things are ‘changed’ immutably into this one thing. Working closely with Endre Ruset, I inserted the adverb ‘forever’, keeping the labio-dental fricative sounds of ‘f’ and ‘v’ through the word ‘forever’ as well as preserving his desire to painfully echo responses to the events.

Original poem by Endre Ruset. Reproduced by kind permission of the poet.