Formandens tale til Jakob Martin Strid
Good evening ladies and gentlemen, both from Denmark and abroad. My name is Anne Christine Seidelin, and I am chairman of BØFA, who, together with Ballerup Bibliotekerne is your host tonight. Tonight I am going to give away the BØFA Award, also known as The Children’s Libraries’ Cultural Award.
BØFA is the children’s librarians’ occupational group under the Union of Danish Librarians. The BØFA Cultural Honorary Award is given every year to promote an original danish cultural product for children and young people. It is given to a person or a group of persons whose work contain new and experimenting qualities or who otherwise has yielded a special contribution in the field of children’s culture. And this year a majority of children’s librarians in Denmark has voted the writer and illustrator Jakob Martin Strid as the winner.
I wanted to make a most hilarious speech in your honour, but unfortunately I was stunted in the making by remembering one of my favourite poems about a very bad frog. In a free English translation, it goes like this:
A frog decided to rob the bank With a knife and a steak that was wet Confused the doors and made its’ escape Not to freedom, but to the toilet
The policemen came and knocked on the door Unlock, we’ll put you in prison You’ll never get me, cried the frog And flushed itself in the basin
In danish it is obviously even more funny, so for my danish collegues’ pleasure I’ll repeat it in danish:
En frø begik et bankrøveri Med en kniv og en kotelet Tog fejl af dørene og flygtede ud På bankens toilet
Politiet kom og bankede på: Luk op du skal i brummen I får mig aldrig, svarede den Og skyllede sig ud i kummen
I hope that you all realize that this poem was, in fact, written by this year’s BØFA Cultural Honorary Award-winner, Jakob Martin Strid.
Strid (which in the danish language may mean rough, bristling, harsh, or even annoying) was born in 1972 and has made the world a stranger place ever since. I first heard of him when my eldest son at age 3 came home from kindergarden and laughingly talked endlessly about being a cheeseholeshooter and loving the danish dish biksemad so much that one would eat it for breakfast, dinner, midnight snack – and at the end soak your feet in it! It turned out that these strange wordpictures came from a weird picture book filled with weird poems and weirder pictures, called Mustafas Kiosk. Some years later, my younger son had absolutely no problems reciting the poem about the poor minister of medister sausages whose story ends sadly when nineteen norwegian nudists in an anarchistic frenzy burn down the minister’s table before taking off with all the danish sausages. The poem was accompanied with Jakob’s own distinctive drawing where the nudists absolutely and undoubtedly are naked. This fantastic book with weird pictures and poems is called My grandmother’s false teeth.
Both of these books have an abundance of crazy stories told in verse, often absurd and anarchistic and also insanely funny. Jakob turns the world upside down, showing it from a point of view where hermits living in giant pears are less strange than the life of the lions in zoo. At the same time he positively sides with the small people in the world – quite a few of his poems are about people you might easily meet in the melting pot of Copenhagen.
His poetry fall trippingly off the tongue; and a moment later the reader has to stop reading in order to read the pictures – and possibly find granny’s runaway teeth. Jakob not only tells the story, but goes on to fill the imagination with pictures that both complement the story but at the same time tells even more. This is how we learn just how bad it looks afterwards you go crazy and bust everything in your home with a maul!
Dear Jakob. You have voiced that it is hard to do picture books, but even so we all hope that you will take the time to make more delightful nonsense, absurdities and fascinating beautiful ugly pictures. All in all, we want Little Frog, Mustafa and Åge Emmanuel Ordkløver to have more friends and maybe keep rats as pets (until they escape the cage and elope with the lioness called Gitte).
May this award inspire you – congratulations!
Anne Christine Seidelin, formand for BØFA