148. Anne: Gerður Kristný

Iceland is the home of one Nobel Prize winner, Halldór Laxness, a prose writer whose most famous work in English is “The Atom Station” and his working of classic Icelandic sagas, but I decided on something more contemporary. Gerður Kristný is a young woman who has not broken much out of Iceland.

Anne Frank is the eponymous subject. She has been raised to saint status by our culture, as many people have either not read her diary, read only excerpts, seen the movie, or have not revisited her diary since reading it in grade school. She is a memory linked to a horrible time, and we treat such people with respect because they are no longer fleshed out people with strengths and faults. Frank deserves better.

While Kristný remains respectful, she also makes Frank human. That’s important for anyone to understand.

She offers an interesting backstory to her own life, Icelandic culture, and the origin of this particular poem. You can watch the video here.

There is much to like about this poem. Historically, it is an interesting view of a historical figure. It allows for an examination of Frank as a writer, and the protagonist of her own memoir. Readers can also look at themselves (if you wish to explore reader response criticism). Give it its due.

Gerður Kristný

By day there’s not a peep
from Anne who lives
in widowhood overhead
– except when she dozes off
over her diary
drops it on the floor

Otherwise not a peep

It’s another matter at night
then there’s all hell of a hubbub
Anne’s friends pound up the stairs
hollering their hellos
and crack open a feast
Some with a bottle of buttermilk
others nursing eggs

Towards dawn the neighbours are fed up
of fiddles and folksongs
The guests depart in haste
melting into the walls

When the police force the door
Anne sits at the kitchen table


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