“You may not hear us yet
you may not see us
but we are here
and we are preparing to take over”
That is how your collection of poems Kallskänken ends and we the elderly can only say: Thank you for that promise!
Today you receive Jan Myrdal’s small prize – the Robespierre Prize, and you really deserve it. When I went to school, Robespierre was introduced as an ugly, murderous revolutionary, who liked to execute as many as possible. But from Jan Myrdal, among others, we have learned better. It was Robespierre who first formulated what later became Human Rights – the ones we must continue to fight for.
The fact that after a couple of hundred years they still exist only as a hope or something to demand with uncertain results, the right to work, including the right to a non-life-threatening work environment, you show with frightening clarity in your poems.
It’s something terrible You write about: the risky, hard work, slippery floors, sharp and dull knives, burns that you cannot bear to think about… and many other horrors. There you stand in an old tradition of Swedish proletarian literature, a tradition to be proud of. You enter it as a supreme innovator.
Your language is elegant, with a humour that in no way detracts from the clarity of your message you describe the most absurd and frightening situations, and you manage to convey a hope. You find this hope in socialism – a word that has been taken from us, but which you continue to blow life into and use. You talk about and show the solidarity that overcomes the fear of the employer’s opportunities for oppression:
”And the greatest of all
was when they marched in a united troop into the boss’s office
asked why I was not allowed to continue my employment”
It is far from the world revolution and it is far from the thousand-year reign, but it is a very good start.
Welcome to take over and welcome to the award you so well deserve!
Let us not forget the two laureates who are not here today. I think they would have liked to be here, and it is certainly not their fault that they are not.
Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye.
Had they been here we would have greeted them with applause and cheers.
Now I suggest that our tribute may consist of us buying every single copy of their magazine that is for sale at the exit, preferably in connection with Advertising is fatal with a refractory use of the advertising slogan for socks and underwear:
That is: Buy one, pay for two, three, four!