29 August 2011

this book is great

Ara Shirinyan's Your Country Is Great is a poetic almanac covering the nations of the world from Afghanistan to Guyana. Shirinyan, an Armenian-born poet, publisher and musician now based in Los Angeles, used found text from Google searches to make a poem for each country listed in the CIA World Factbook from A to G. For countries that were in the Factbook but there was no information on them on the internet (!) - and there are a few - he left the pages blank, a nod to the fact that there are too few English-speakers who think of Antigua and Barbuda, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea as countries.

I loved the end of "Germany Is Great":
The atmosphere in Germany is great
and it's just like Africa here -
there is beautiful sunshine and it's
absolutely magnificent

But the poem that resonated most with me was, of course, "Denmark Is Great."

delicate but sweet cheese
made in Denmark is great
for melting or sliced

Upon reflection,
I have concluded that,
Denmark is great for a holiday
if you go with friends,
it's a beautiful country
with lots of interesting history,

Denmark is great for family holidays
because of the safe, relaxed and informal

Denmark is great, especially
down by the water where there are some great
there is that hippy community
in the middle of town

Denmark is great.
all the men are at least 12ft tall.

Denmark is great.
There is free health care for everyone
and students get paid to go to school.
their weather sucks!
You get one sunny day a week

Denmark is great country,
but the taxes/fees
are a bit to crazy,
whish also scares a lot of good foreign labour,
like professors,
doctors, soccer players

Shopping in Denmark is great;
some cheap stores. are H&M and Mango.
I found that toiletry and make-up were
more expensive

Denmark is great,
I have yet to master the skill
of ordering healthy food.
I think Denmark is great because everything's
wrapped up in a neat package -
it's got tons of culture,
relaxed, free lifestyle,
loads of history,

Denmark is GREAT!
Keep fighting the good fight!
"No immigration
without assimilation!"
And if they don't like it
they can just go home

Yep. This poem pretty much sums up how it felt for me to be an outsider in Denmark: It's great... if you go with friends. It also managed to capture how the capital city is viewed as the entire country (or vice versa), when really the huge mental gap between cosmopolitan and rural exists as much in Denmark as anywhere else.

Danish friends, I miss you.


geneviève bjargardóttir said...

this was lovely and entertaining - i remember seeing Denmark is Great before somewhere, but i never knew where the text had come from, so thankyou for sharing <3

Maya said...

oh, whoa! neat.