Tag Archives: Viggo Mortensen

Nostalgic Reckoning: Viggo Mortensen, Poet and Photographer

Monday, February 19, 2019 —- Nostalgic Reckoning: Viggo Mortensen, Poet and Photographer

Linda and I saw “Green Book” at the Art Theater last night, and were very impressed with the acting and the screenwriting. While the entire ensemble of actors in the film was superb, the two lead actors held our attention throughout what might have been a tedious biopic. The film seemed closer to an hour and a half, rather than its actual running time, and that is a more of an accomplishment than one might guess.

I had never seen Mortensen in a film before, so it was a pleasure to see just how fine an actor he is. Once again, I wish to thank him for being part of the Beyond Baroque’s 50th anniversary celebration, during which his books were featured at BB’s bookstore. I have been savoring two of them, “Canciones de invierno / Winter Songs” and “Ramas para un Nido.” The latter is a survey of his exquisite work as a photographer; in the former, on page 31, is a poem called “Hillside” / “La Cuesta.” It is one of the best short lyrics I have read in many months, and deserves memorizing in both English and Spanish. If I had some easy way of getting permission to include the entire poem in this blog, I would do so, for it is a poem that deserves to be much better known. Mortensen, it should be noted, did the translations himself.

If memory serves me correctly, the last actor to be nominated for an Academy Award who was also a writer was Sam Shepard, who won a Pulitzer Prize for playwrighting, but deserved it more than once. Mortensen’s volume of photographs concludes with a comment by Shepard, on a page by itself: “I feel like I’ve never had a home, you know? I feel related to the country, this country, and yet I don’t know exactly where I fit in… There’s always this kind of nostalgia for a place, a place where you can reckon with yourself.” In both his poems and photographs, Mortensen makes himself sincerely vulnerable to an intense nostalgic reckoning with himself as a disguised nomad.

“Canciones de Invierno / Winter Songs,” which constitutes a selection of poems written between 1989 of 2010, can be obtained by writing to Perceval Press, 1223 Wilshire Blvd., Suite F, Santa Monica, CA 90403. www.percevalpress.com