Blog Our Sweet Old Etcetera

Behind the scenes at the Scottish Poetry Library

Seventy Years of Ruste

Image: Arne Ruste enjoys his 70th birthday party, supplied by Christine De Luca

Poet Christine De Luca writes:

I first met Arne Ruste in Edinburgh in 2002.  We were part of a small group of poets from several European countries about to spend a week at Moniack Mhor, translating each other’s poems in a workshop run by the Scottish Poetry Library and Literature across Frontiers.  It was one of the most seminal weeks of my life. 

During those few days we got to know each other, and each other’s poems.  Arne was friendly, modest in his manner; precise, sympathetic and careful in his translating.  He liked to extract all possible meanings from a poem, the best equivalent metaphor, the most appropriate word or phrase.  His poems were fascinating in their detail and overall strength of purpose. 

Arne has been involved at many levels in Norwegian cultural life.  For several years he was head of the Writers’ Centre, involved in supporting the careers of other writers.  He was also an editor.  But it is as a poet, translator and writer for children that he is best known and loved. His 70th birthday falls this year, which also marks the publication by Tiden of a wonderful selected poems, Kretsløp (‘Circulation’), representing his ten volumes of poetry (1973-2012).  I was honoured to be invited to a special event in his home town of Son, on the Oslo Fjord, to mark the occasion.  We were joined at the local café-gallery by a 7-piece jazz band and another well-known Norwegian poet, Thor Sorheim who, with Arne, had been one of the Stunt poets of the 1970s and 1980s.  Thor also came to Scotland – in fact to my native Shetland – for another SPL/LAF workshop in 2005, and we had worked together at that time. 

The sun came out just in time for the event.  Many people had come a distance but many were also local.  Arne has lived in this small community for exactly 40 years and is obviously much loved and admired.  The previous day, at the supermarket, Arne had taken his time chatting to staff as well as acquaintances.  The staff were delighted to be stocking the local newspaper with its double page spread about Arne.  He mentioned that he looked very solemn in the photo. They disagreed.  ‘You look wise, Arne.’  

After the event we retired to Arne and Anne’s garden.  Kaisa, their old collie, wandered hospitably among the 40 or so friends who were enjoying  huge platters of local prawns.  The weather held and guests lingered, some till late.
Next morning the gazebo tent was tilted over – it had been a good party!


Image: Arne , Christine & Thor