A tree at St. Hanshaugen. (Have a closer look at what is hanging from the branches…)
Et tre på Tøyen
Da jeg var liten så mistet jeg ei stygg brun lue.
Det var et uhell men mora mi trodde at jeg mistet den med vilje.
I dag liker jeg brun. Den er en av mine favorittfarger.
Men på den tiden hadde alle jentene i klassen min luer som var rosa og lilla og glitrende.
Men det var et uhell at jeg mistet den stygge brune lua.
Kanskje grunnen var at det var kaldt på vei til skolen og på vei tilbake skinte sola og jeg ville at håret mitt skulle ta til seg litt lys.
Noen dager senere fant mora mi den stygge brune lua i midten av en stor dam.
Hun tok en pinne og fisket lua ut av det skitne vannet.
Mora mi tok den stygge brune lua hjem og vasket den.
Og den nyvaskede lille brune lua var på hodet mitt dagen etter.
Det er lenge siden, men jeg tenkte på det på grunn av en flott liten brun vott.
Den votten henger på et tre i Botanisk Hage.
Der er det et skilt som sier «Norsk vinterklærtre».
Om våren får det knopper.
Om sommeren er bladene grønne som vanlig.
Om høsten blir bladene oransje og gule og brune, også som vanlig.
Men om vinteren så blomstrer ensomme votter, fortapte skjerf og mistede luer.
This project is from my perspective as a foreigner living in Oslo. I bet you’re wondering what kind of foreigner. Well it’s a long answer, in fact I have a Tumbr blog which is wasting away wherein I try to the answer the question, “Where are you from?”. The short answer is that my culture is a mixture of influences from Jamaica (where my grandparents are originally from), England (where I was born and also moved back to as a young adult and began my working life), and America (where I grew up and was educated). I am also starting to notice small things about Norway that make me feel I belong here, but I wouldn’t go as far as to refer to myself as partially Norwegian… yet.
I’m taking a few risks by starting this project with Grünerløkka. First of all, by first impressions Grünerløkka might be the coolest bydel [borough] in Oslo. So, if this is the coolest blog post of them all, everything is downhill from here. The second risk is that the first poem I have written was inspired by something I saw at Botaniske Hage [the Botanical Gardens] which is in the neighbourhood of Tøyen. There is some debate as to whether Tøyen is in Grünerløkka or Bydel Gamle Oslo. The lines separating the two boroughs have been redrawn at different points and I think the best people to make a final call on this are the residents who live on the border. I am choosing not to involve myself in the debate. For those of you who feel strongly on the subject I can I assure you that I will revisit the topic when I write about Gamle Oslo. Based on the maps I have access to I have established that the part of Tøyen that the Botanical Gardens is in, is the area that is considered Grünerløkka. Finally, Grünerløkka is very large. This may also be the longest blog post of them all.
One of the first things that stands out about Grünerløkka is its name. What is that “ü” doing in there?! That’s not Norwegian! According to Wikipedia Grünerløkka is named for Friedrich Grüner. I couldn’t find any information about him, but other notables with the same surname are primarily German. The “løkka” part is the Norwegian word for “the paddock”, so “Grüner’s field”.
There is a lot to do in this bydel so I chose to pick some highlights. For nightlife and dining Blå [Blue] is a nightclub with good DJ’s and nice drinks. They also have live gigs sometimes, I haven’t been to one yet, but I am aware of it because I’ve stopped by before and it was too full to get in. Right next door is a bar called Ingensteds, I love the name of this place the direct translation is “No Place”. I imagine, some drunk person being asked where they have been and responding “Nowhere”. Nighthawk Diner is an American style diner which I personally love. Their pancakes are the real deal. Mathallen is a huge complex with many restaurants, bars, food boutiques. I work with oslo soup, which is a micro-funding foodie experience. Our most recent event was at Smelteverket in Mathallen. Smelteverket has the longest bar in Oslo and really very nice ambience.
As for culture: there is Black Box teater, which seems to have a reputation for experimental theatre. Munchmuseet is also in the part of Tøyen that is included in this bydel. Edvard Munch is one of the more famous Norwegian artists. I remembered him from my university days in Art Appreciation 101, as the “scream guy”. I also work with the Oslo International Rumi Festival and we have moved to Victoria Jazzscene, but I am familiar with Riksscenen from having the festival there in previous years. Riksscenen is located in a vibrant area of Grünerløkka near a former beer factory.
I am not an outdoorsy person so when I speak of outdoor life I’ll probably be referring to parks and the like. In this bydel we have Torshovdalen which is known for it’s grassy knolls and a huge statue of a baby’s head and the aforementioned Botaniske Hage. The gardens are a part of the Naturhistorisk Museum [Natural History Musem] which is part of Universitet i Oslo [the University of Oslo].
There is even a Norwegian book about a missing glove.
I’ve concluded that for me that the heart of Bydel Grünerløkka is in the midst of the Botanical Gardens. It is a serene, beautiful, poetry inspiring space which is set apart from a neighbourhood that could otherwise be described as bustling.
Throughout 2017 & 2018 poet and blogger Leeanne Stoddart will travel around Oslo searching for the heart of each borough. She will write blogs, take photos, and write poetry from each place she visits. You can trace the journey here, and follow @hverbydelharethjerte on Instagram. The blog posts will be in English, whilst the poetry is in Norwegian.
Leeanne performed “Et tre på Tøyen” under Andre Historier
på Det Andre Teatret 19th January 2017.
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