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Saddling Bloodhoof

Posted by Arc, 10th October 2012

Ahead of her forthcoming readings across the UK as part of the Arc Ventures Tour, Gerður Kristný spoke to us about her book, Bloodhoof, published this year by Arc Publications. She will launch Bloodhoof and her series of readings at the Icelandic Embassy on Wed 17 October.

As a child I loved reading the old Nordic myths. One story stayed with me. It is the tale of Freyr, the fertility god, who falls in love with a woman called Gerður Gymisdóttir. She lives in the world of the giants and since Freyr is unable to forget her he sends Skírnir, his servant, to fetch her. Skírnir sees the trip as a business opportunity and asks for Freyr's horse, called Bloodhoof, and his sword as a payment. Freyr agrees to those terms but it will have consequences. Since he will not have his sword in the final battle of Ragnarok he will die.

From viking times this has always been considered a very romantic story. A man offers his sword for love. What troubled me though with this interpretation was the fact that Gerður does not want to leave with Skírnir and refuses to do so. He then threatens her with physical and mental pain until she gives in.

I knew I had to retell this tale from Gerður's point of view and decided that poetry would provide the best method. The volume is called Bloodhoof (Blóðhófnir in Icelandic) and was published by Arc earlier this year in English translation by Rory McTurk. In a few days I will saddle Bloodhoof and travel to England for a tour of readings. It has already carried me to poetry festivals in India, Indonesia, Finland and Denmark among other countries. I does not matter where I go, Bloodhoof knows the way.

Details of all Gerður's readings in London, Manchester, Nottingham, Hebden Bridge, Leeds, Hull and Bangor can be found here.