A writer’s hunger

Text: Solveig Hansen, 2018

In one of their daily prompts, NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month: write one poem a day in April) asked us to write a “book spine” poem based on titles in our bookshelves.

One of the titles in my bookshelf is Knut Hamsun’s Hunger (1890). It describes the painful birth of a writer, an unnamed young man who wanders the streets of Kristiania (former name of Oslo), trying to keep his dignity and sanity. His hunger is both physical and mental, and at one point he almost eats his pencil. Occasionally, he earns a little money by selling an article to a newspaper, but he is unwilling to take other jobs (he deems it unfit for someone of his abilities). In the book, he relates his experiences from his walks and from his encounters with people. He ends up signing on a ship and leaving the city. I think any aspiring writer can relate to the drive inside that anonymous writer.

There are seven book titles hidden in the poem. Find them if you like. 🙂

 
HUNGER

I am an undernourished author,
hungry to create

I walk the city streets
in a ceaseless chase for words
and, in all honesty, recognition,
to become a king on writing

I can hear the bells toll ten, eleven, twelve times,
as if to put a number on my
failed, once great, expectations

Just after sunset,
I stumble through the door
at the inn where I lodge

Another long day’s journey into night
comes to an end

Hurt feet, hurt pride,

but not willing to settle for
the God of small things

Not yet.

(c) Zol H, 2016

 
Photo: Mag Pole/Unsplash

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