Folk Poetry Folklore is first and foremost the literature of the people. Folk poetry and narrative has always been an inherent part of Iceland's culture, as mentioned earlier medieval literature traces its origins to oral tradition, and the poetry tradition is still going strong today. Self-publishing of poetry is common in Reykjavík and has increased with cheaper and more accessible printing, and occasional verse is also widespread as there are numerous poets, bards and skalds in the country. Icelandic epic poetry, called rímur (lit. rhymes) is preserved in old manuscripts, such as the work of Steinunn Finns dóttir (1641–1710) who was one of the few women who took on this form of poetry. Her work is the oldest example of women's poetry that has survived in any quantity to speak of.
Ríma (plural: rímur) is a traditional form of narrative Icelandic epic song chanted or intoned in a specific manner called “ad kveda”. The inner structure and content can partially be traced to Eddic and Scaldic poetry of the Viking Age. The rímur rely on the complex metaphors called “ kenningar” (singular: kenning) and the poetic synonyms called “ heiti”. The Scaldic poetic stanza was an extremely intricate construct with a unique poetic vocabulary and syntax, frequently employing metaphors within metaphors in a manner reminiscent of the cryptic crossword. Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, Chief Godi of the Icelandic Pagan Society
The association Kvædamannafélagid Idunn was founded in Reykjavík in 1929 with the aim to maintain, preserve and introduce the rímur. The association collects folk poetry, old and new, “this folk art that through the ages has been one of the critical aspects of Icelandic folk culture”³, as it says on the association's website. It also hosts monthly events during winter, at which members intone and teach the art of doing so, as well as introducing the form itself. This poetry is sung or intoned in a specific way, and in addition to teaching the method the association keeps recordings of people chanting or singing the rhymes. At the association's 80th anniversary in September 2009, it handed its manuscript collection over to The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies for safekeeping, and its Department of Folkloristics now preserves the manuscripts and makes them accessible to scholars and the public. Steindór Andersen, one of the country's prevailing rímur singers, is the president of Kvædamannafélagid, and he has collaborated with the renowned band Sigur Rós, to international acclaim. One of these collaborations resulted in the music piece Hrafnagaldur Ódins (Odin's Raven Magic), together with composer Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson. They performed the piece at the Barbican Centre in London in April 2002 and again at the Reykjavík Arts Festival in the same year.
UNESCO City of Literature
Published on Jul 23, 2012