Malene Engelund grew up in Aalborg, a city grown from a former Viking settlement in northern Denmark. She moved to England in 2002 and holds an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway University of London. She currently lives in Copenhagen.
She is co-editor of the Days of Roses poetry anthologies and was highly commended in the Faber New Poets 2013/14 competition. Her poems have appeared in various magazines and anthologies, including Poetry Wales, Magma, Best British Poetry 2014 (Salt) and Pocket Horizon. Her publications with Valley Press include her debut pamphlet The Wild Gods (2016), and her translation of Christel Wiinblad's Danish collection My Little Brother (2020).
A Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation for Spring 2020.
Click here to read an introduction to the book by translator Malene Engelund, and a sample poem.
My Little Brother is a sequence of ten poems by Christel Wiinblad, which work both as a loving portrait and celebration of her younger sibling, and an unflinching, direct account of his battle with schizophrenia. The book's scope allows the author to recount and consider the events leading up to her brother's suicide attempt, from his birth and childhood up to the text message which gives the book its distinctive subtitle: "I’m hidden away near the college ... I don’t know if I’m dead and already in heaven, but I’m at least in green.” Never sensationalising this event, or her experience of it, this is a beautiful, brutal and valuable document, both of a single life and the wider human condition.
The original Danish edition of this book, Min lillebror (2008), came with a CD featuring an album by Mother Sparrow, an indie-flow band from Svendborg in Denmark, who counted Christel's brother Jannick among their members. The band have generously allowed us to offer an MP3 version of the album to readers of the Valley Press edition; you can click here (or right click and 'save link as', depending on your system) to download the album in a ZIP file.
From the author: 'The book and the music have always been intertwined – they belong to each other, they are different words for the same thing. The music is tender, fragile and raw and concerns itself with nature, love, suffering, spirit, and the recognition of spirit. The band was dissolved in 2009 with the death of Jannick Wiinblad, but their music lives on.'
The eighteen poems that comprise Malene Engelund’s debut pamphlet, The Wild Gods, reveal a distinctly Nordic imagination, punctured with rich colour, shadows and light.
Here are letters, portraits and prayers, composed with an almost painterly precision. Searching and clear-eyed, each poem a compact saga that revives folklore and extends it into the present, Engelund’s wild gods take their places between borders: of home and belonging, darkness and dawn, the silenced and the lost.
“Malene Engelund has a lovely liquid way with verbs. Her phrase ‘DNA of flight’ applies not only to the birds who preside over these poems but to language itself as it flows through them, creating a haunted, Northern Lights habitat where snow, sea and night trace the inner bones of the relationship between every I and every you.”
— Ruth Padel
“Malene Engelund’s arresting debut leads us into a landscape of snow and silence, of characters submerged and on the brink of madness; ‘I write in black.’ But against the darkness we find the colours of a painter’s palette, of birds making for the sky, of voices refusing to be muted and claiming for themselves a new language.”
— Lorraine Mariner
Be part of our story. Join the Valley Press newsletter.