Monday, April 24, 2017

Blog of the Week ~ Bjorn Rudberg and the Aged Librarian

I am sure you have all come across Bjorn Rudberg's series of poems about the Aged Librarian, which he has been writing all winter at Bjorn Rudberg's Writings. This is a series that has interested me very much, and I thought you might like to hear more about it as well. Pour yourself a nice cup of afternoon tea and draw your chairs in close. Let's find out about this intriguing character, and the poet who created him!

Sherry: Bjorn, I have been so intrigued by the series you have been writing about the aged librarian.  How and why did he appear, the first time? Tell us about him.

Bjorn: My very first idea of the aged librarian came from a prompt about Jorge Louis Borges. One of his more famous short stories called “The Library of Babel” has always been close to my heart. I don’t think it was so much the library itself but the sense of a librarian that fascinated me. The idea or a concept of an ancient scholar is a great attraction to me. I think many people reading about him recognize themselves in him. 


The aged librarian collects ideals:
he’s saving fragments, bulbs and seeds
of scribbled shorthand, notes and antidotes.
He shuffles words and stanzas
tries to set them juxtaposed against his memory of youth:
the boisterous marketplace before he closed the doors;
the recollections of the lips he never dared to kiss,
her breasts, her hair and music that he failed to play.

He’s lacking soil and sun of conversations,
Stiff from loneliness and books his life is hushed,
it’s slow and collected possibilities have withered in a corner.
Ideas gather dust and resolutions rust
as the aged librarian is waiting for a crust of metaphors
to grow, connect his dreams.
The aged librarian closes his eyes, sighs.
December 22, 2016

Sherry: I can see him, and he looks a bit like my dream man. Smiles.

Bjorn: Thank you. I think he lacks some social skills in dealing with women. An influence for me is Stoner from the great book with the same name by John Williams about a man who is lost to the world, but still survives with his words. There is something tender and vulnerable with him, yet something very strong. I often draw inspiration from opposites in my poetry, and I think I have poured a little bit of that into the character.


His finger traces spines; blind
he reads the gilded letters
embossed as braille
he’s forming stanzas in his mind.
Heart of darkness, beating.
Craving fleur de mal.
But the aged librarian can only dream in sepia
of nyloned legs
her heels, mischievous curls she’d kept hidden;
the way she used to eyelash him;
loins were longing.

his lips are parchment (dry from poetry)
forever reaching
back in time to the moment she moved out and left him pressed
between the pages
as a bookmark (one of many) in her books unread
January 5, 2017

Sherry: A lonely librarian, pressed between the pages of a book. How poignant!

Bjorn: I always think of the librarian becoming indistinguishable from the books. I think he represents our collective memories, so I also wanted to use him as a character talking about the end of times. Some of the scenes are apocalyptic, and I think the library can be the last refuge of humanity. That's why I refer to Plato and Atlantis in a few of my poems. He only sees the shadows on the wall through his books, but yet I think he sees much more than most of us. I want to capture him as a metaphor about everything we are about to lose.

Sherry: I love that description, and insight. It is hard to see the writing on the wall of these times we live in. I love the idea of the library (books) as the last refuge. Certainly, books have always been mine.

The Stockholm Library


He always thought that
could be built as essays (unabridged).
That if he listened — after-
wards he’d be allowed to speak his mind.
“It’s like crossing ridges —
once you reach the highest point it’s downhill
to the valley below”
But timeslots slips; the aged librarian
and builds his thesis,
breath by breath,
strong with reason — walled with words
and punctuated,
it’s perfected
juxtaposed to synthesis;
“My mouth is filled with pebbles”.
He believes that chasms of treason
can be closed
if just once
he’d be allowed to speak his mind.

He lights a candle. Sighs.
Cause bridges crumble and his pens run dry.
That’s why
the aged librarian just makes sense in
January 10, 2017

Sherry: This has been a wonderful unfolding, with great development of character. Once he was here, what kept him coming back?

Bjorn: Already from my first poem I felt that he can be my spokesperson. Not an alter ego, but maybe a persona that is only part of me. He has begun to appear in my thoughts, and whenever I feel lost for inspiration I think… what my aged librarian wants to say. He has become a voice that whispers words of sorrow, and a bit of hope.

Sherry: That’s pretty cool, Bjorn, "a voice that whispers words of sorrow, and a bit of hope”. We can all use an inner voice like that. Or maybe we all have aged librarians inside us. What are you seeking to express in this series of poems?

Bjorn: I think I want to say many things, but to a large extent he is a metaphor for everything that we are losing. He stands up against stupidity (though he has his own stupidity). I feel that libraries are changing, that the written word has lost its ground. This is why he is often alone, by himself in his large library. I think he has lost a lot of things in his life, but he has gained some things as well.

Library in the Rijks Museum of Amsterdam


On new year’s eve he lets the ancient sunshine in
to dust beloved shelves.
He sits beside the window drinking tea
and watches specks of dust transform from books to stars.
He notices their subtle scintillation
before they fall to rest.
Seemingly so random
dust becomes
(in Brownian movements)
the harbinger of matter,
a silent voice of molecules, an echo of what’s real.
The aged librarian (used to reading shadows)
finds how close to Plato’s cave this daylight really is.
‘It’s like my youth’, he mumbles,
‘I harvest now in aftermath of thoughts,
the random movement
that I once attributed to hormones’.

The aged librarian sighs:
‘I think that Plato knew that only
when you’ve aged with books,
you know how little you have seen
and tomorrow yet another year has passed.’
And in the setting sun the aged librarian
waits; his tea is growing cold.
December 31, 2016

Sherry: You identify with him in some ways, it is clear.

Bjorn: As I said, I think there are things I identify with, but many other things are just the opposite of me. While he is shy and silent, I am loud and boisterous. He would probably like me way less that I would like him. Part of him is an ideal, part of him is a fear of what I once could be.

The tea set by Claude Monet


“Is the library like woods or sea?
Do books resemble trees or waves?”
Maybe they are both, the aged librarian ponders
as he stirs his Oolong tea
while sifting through his childhood memories.
He recalls his mother’s hand in his,
still warm with spring
she taught him trees,
how boughs had voice,
how leaves were syllables
each tree a changing poesy,
each path a syllabus to follow.
The library is woods.
He feels his father’s hand in his,
callous, salt with brine
he taught him of the sails and waves,
how sea is meter, wind the strings
of songs; each wave another iamb.
He taught him
how the stanzas can be storms or doldrums,
how a lighthouse is another path to shore;
another syllabus.
Hence library is sea.

He sips his Oolong tea; he smiles;
his world is woods and sea;
his words are waves and trees;
his home the library, as he was taught.

Sherry: Sigh. I love this poem the best of all. You have developed this character so well, I feel I know him. To wrap up,  I would love to include "Books and Gardens" here, just because it is beautiful and fits so well with the librarian. Let's read:

Books and Gardens

My garden is a library, my books are flowerbeds.
When leafing through my books I find how flowers
in my garden are like poems. A few are buds,
in splash of color, shy, still sparked from hope;
they need my care and warmth of voice before
they bloom. But books are also thistles, thorned
unwanted, proud and wonderful in purpleness.
My garden bulbs are words, my garden is a place
for poesy and posies, for sense and sentences
and even in the winter I can hear a voice of violas.
Words can be like fir-trees, stern but comfort givers,
my shelter when the winds have teeth and claws,
My garden has a hermit’s cave with walls of books
and there I am alone librarian: I am gardener of
willows; I am the caretaker of growth and spelling.

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.
Marcus Tullius Cicero
November 15, 2016

Sherry: This is lovely, Bjorn. I completely agree with Cicero: with a garden and a library, we have all we need. I have been rich in both this lifetime.

In closing, would you like to tell us your plans for this series? Do you foresee a book?

Bjorn: One of the reasons I keep writing about my aged librarian is that I had a vague idea of making him a character in a poetry book. I would really love to do a book that is not a chap book, but a poetry book that you can read from start to finish.  I would probably add information between the poems, and poems yet unwritten. At some point I will write about the library itself as well. But I am open to any ideas on how such a book would be.

Sherry: Your outline sounds absolutely wonderful to me. I am a big proponent of self-publishing our own books, as it is easy and affordable. But your series sounds so original and intriguing, I think a publisher would be very interested. We'll watch with interest for the book to appear. We can launch it here!

Thank you, Bjorn, for telling us more about your aged librarian. Since we have been enjoying this series so much, it is nice to get a more in-depth look at him. I have developed a little crush on him. LOL.

Wasn't this interesting, my friends? I look forward to reading more about this appealing character. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


  1. This is the best post. I love Bjorn's work. I feel like I know him personally. What a great collection.

  2. Thank you so much Sherry for featuring my librarian poem. There will be more poems coming on the theme... :-) and I will reserve some yet unwritten for my book.

  3. Lovely to feature you, as always, Bjorn. It is my pleasure. When your book is ready maybe we can launch it. Smiles. It will make an awesome book!

  4. As I read Bjorn's thoughts on structuring his book, I thought of Nick Bantok's "Griffin and Sabine", and the very innovative way Bantok wove a story around his art. I enjoyed you conversation with Bjorn very much!

    1. I have not read that book, but it would be nice to weave the poetry to a narrative... I do have my ideas.

    2. Oh, you should look up Griffin and Sabine! It's enchanting.

    3. Yes, it absolutely is....there is a series of gorgeous books.

  5. Yayy!❤️ We have Bjorn this week! Thank you so much, Sherry for featuring him this week. Bjorn, your aged librarian series is such an intriguing one, I have read and adored each and every one but am especially enthralled by "He can only speak in Poetry." It's something that I can relate to as I often find it easier to express myself by means of poetry rather than conversation. Guess I am a bit reserved as a person.❤️

    I second Sherry's idea of making the series into a book and yes publishers will definitely be interested! Wish you loads of happiness and success in the years to come ahead.

    Lots of love,

    1. Thank you Sanaa... I wonder if I have the energy to make this into the world of publishers.

  6. Sherry, this was a wonderful feature! I have been intrigued by Bjorn's series. A library to me is a house of time, with endless possibility.

    Bjorn, I think you should do a poetry book in the form of a story poem. It could go so many places.

    On a side note, you're looking dashing in that photo.

    1. I love the sense of "House of time"... a very interesting thought.

  7. Another scintillating interview, Sherry. I love Bjorn’s work so much and I have really enjoyed the Aged Librarian series. A book sounds like a fabulous idea. Put me down for a copy. It’s funny but, in my mind, I have been reading the ‘Aged Librarian’ as the ‘Ancient Librarian’, all this time. Almost as if I felt a mythic – somewhat other worldly – quality in this character. I really zeroed in on Bjorn’s remark that: “He has begun to appear in my thoughts, and whenever I feel lost for inspiration I think… what my aged librarian wants to say”. I love the concept of creating another poetic mind to delve. I try to take my poetry in different directions but, thus far, I haven’t tried writing from the mindset of a character (other than myself). That approach, for me, has intriguing possibilities. I just might try it. Wonderful catching up with you, Bjorn. Thank you for making this happen, Sherry. Great job on this, both of you!

    1. Thank you Wendy. I think it's something ancient about the librarian. There is a streak of mythology over him, and an early image was a library of Atlantis just before the disaster...

    2. Wow! A library of Atlantis. Very cool.

  8. I appreciate the backgrounder and I really admire how that character comes to life in your poetry ~ This is a lovely theme to make into a chapbook Bjorn ~

    And thanks Sherry for featuring Bjorn ~

    1. This is a project that I will let take some time... but it's good to have a character to use.

  9. I so much enjoyed reading Bjorn's poems. Don't know how I've missed this Ancient Librarian series but the ones featured here are certainly spectacular. Bjorn you have such a poetic mind and now you have a poetic internal character who speaks to you in poetry. How wonderful. I look forward to the book, which I'm sure will be a tremendous success.
    Sherry this was such good read. I'm so glad you brought these lovely poems to us today.

    1. Thank you Myrna, I need that voice speaking to me... it's a great help actually.

  10. This is a wonderful article, Sherry; and Bjorn, I love the idea behind these poems. I like the idea that he is your spokesperson....a voice that whispers sorrows as well as hope. I think perhaps I should find some kind of spokesperson like that....maybe we all should. It would breathe fresh life into our poems. Bjorn, I do think you should use him in a book....I could see a whole book featuring him.

    1. I find that having a persona helps me a lot in being inspired to write. You can decide how much of yourself to pour into that voice...

  11. A fascinating post and insight

  12. Loud and boisterous, eh? I wouldn't have guessed that from the poetry! While often witty and scintillating, it is also profoundly thoughtful, so I had imagined a more serious persona ... though not so withdrawn and introverted as the Aged Librarian.

    I must confess I had to overcome some barriers to relate to this character. As a real librarian for 18 years (when I was younger) and a library user all my life, I would have a lot of criticisms of the way the ancient library of the poems is run – that is, if it were a public library. But eventually I realised there are never any other people in the poems; this is his private library, amassed over his lifetime, perhaps started by his ancestors and kept in the family, added to by successive generations. I know people who have personal libraries like that. My own was too, for quite a time, but I no longer have the space to accommodate such abundance (except of course on my iPad). Once I understood that about the Aged Librarian, I was able to enter into the world of the poems and the psyche of the character. I agree that he is intriguing, and that a book of these poems would be good. Lovely to get your own ideas about your creation in this interview. I love all 'his' poems themselves.

    Thanks Sherry, for yet another wonderful feature.

    1. I was thinking of something of public library that have become "private"... a library with only a librarian and the ghosts of the past is to me a strong image for a future where books are not burned, just forgotten.

    2. Yes it is, a very strong image. And poignant.

  13. Love this series Bjorn, as I keep repeating whenever you post one of these poems. And yes, a book would be great! I think finding a character to be your spokesperson of sorts is a great that I've tried to experiment with as well! Sherry how lovely that you pulled them all together like this! Thanks both of you.

    1. Your dialogue with Marcus has been a great inspiration actually... it is great to always have a person to talk to.

    2. Thank you.. that's very kind. Conversations with Marcus started as an experiment, am so glad it has found friends. Maybe Marcus will discuss your librarian one day!

  14. It is good to have a companion to help us find our words and flow - the aged librarian and the sanctuary of libraries is close to my heart - great to read your work and hear the conversation

    1. I love your dialogue with Alice, maybe we all need that type of companion.

  15. A lovely conversation, my friends. Bjorn, I await more songs from the librarian with great pleasure.

  16. Here is something fun, dear poets. Last night a delegation on the Clayoquot Writers Group, of which I am a founding member, addressed the Tofino District Council, reading poems about local events in honour of National Poetry month, as a prelude to suggesting Tofino have a Poet Laureate. It was well received and we will now put together a serious proposal. Cool, Hey? I am finally back at home, among my people. Sigh,

    1. So very cool... I wonder if we can do the same here... maybe in the local library.

  17. I think the library is either condemned and dilapidated or a figment of his imagination or his memory. Regardless, I think the librarian is dead, refusing to let go of a former time in history. He's a ghost, clinging to a location, keeping it alive even though he's a ghost. That's how I perceive the series culminating, anyway.

    1. I think he might be a ghost... there is such an element of him.. and I'm sure that the library is part real and part imagination.

  18. Since I missed these it was wonderful to catch up....thanks Sherry and Bjorn!

    1. Thank you Donna, it's a pleasure to share my poetry this way.

  19. What a great post. I love Bjorn's work, too, and I'm happy to see a book emerging from the mists. One of my Poetry Friday friends was listing verse novels and noting that there are none for adults. They tend to be MG, but there are a few YA. This would make the beginnings of a great adult verse novel, especially if you had another voice, perhaps with another character, elsewhere, longing for the library (and the aging librarian)?

    1. I have had an idea of another voice and it would be great to add it.

  20. Hi Bjorn, even though I've distanced myself from PU, today was the day when I got fortunate to read some excerpts from your series about librarian. First of all, your style, your powerful stroke has changed. I see deeper look into details, more complexity and interactions of words and phrases. I feel your librarian like a spiritual guide, or even your writing teacher, muse in some way, which raise your poems on different level, a new spiritual perspective. Do we need this inner voice, connection with it? Absolutely, this is how we connect with our intuition, with our soul. Very good idea to connect all these series in the book. Thank you, Sherry! Good luck,Bjorn!

    1. Thank you, I do think he is my muse... and I hope to evolve my character.

  21. How beautiful these librarian's biographical poems are. Curiously both my mother and one of my daughters worked in libraries and my wife owned a bookshops so I can fully relate to his contemplative thoughts. Once you become an avid reader you never feel alone again. What a stunning post this is and thank you both so much Bjorn and Sherry.

    1. Thank you, I grew up with books and there is an element of my father in the story... and possibly my grandfather too... With books you are never alone.

    2. I so agree. Books have companion ed my life since I was five. A weekly trip to the library every week since. Smiles.

  22. Bjorn, I loved your poems. Your bio was a poetic encounter and I enjoyed it very much. Thank you so much for sharing....
    Thanks Sherry, for featuring Bjorn... who deserves all the recognition he can ever receive!! What an honour and a joy to be with you both in PU. Thanks again...

    1. Thank you Panchali, I enjoy writing the story poems.

  23. Thank you so much to each of you. I loved the interview, the poems and Born's ideas about the old librarian.

    1. Thank you Annell... I think having this post has helped me on how to proceed with the librarian.

  24. There are no words for how much I love this. Love Bjorn's work. Love libraries. Love the smell of old books. Shall be buying the collection when it comes out.

    Thank you, Sherry. Always.

    1. Thank you De, I look forward to go ahead and write it... :-)

  25. I was I was so pleased and excited to see this interview with an extraordinary poet. Bjorn, I have enjoyed this series, as well as your other poetry. Your talent never fails to amaze me. A book sounds like a splendid idea. Perhaps a glimpse of the aged librarian's younger days up to the present, or maybe interspersed between the present as sort of a flashback. Write the book!

    Sherry, thanks for this wonderful interview. Your usually wonderful way of drawing people out.

    1. Yes, I do want to present it just like this... and some of my poems have already tried to present him as young....

  26. I have been visiting and reading Björn's Aged Librarian poems, and really Luv his series. What I find really striking is hid attempt to hold on as long as possible to what seem to be a loss to this generation of techies.

    Thanks Sherry for the up close here of Björn's series

    Much love...

    1. Thank you... yes he is an antiquity, but he is also standing for something worth saving.


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