The Self in Verse

A Lyrical ‘I’ Beyond Fiction. Yahya Hassan and Autobiographical Poetry in Denmark After Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle.




Autobiographical Poetry, Contemporary Self-Representation, Yahya Hassan, Karl Ove Knausgaard


This article focuses on contemporary autobiographical Danish poetry following the publication of Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard’s novel Min kamp [My Struggle], originally published between 2009 and 2011 [My Struggle (2012–2018)]. Focusing on the 2013 poetry collection Yahya Hassan by the Danish-Palestinian poet Yahya Hassan, this article argues that the lyrical autobiographical voice escapes its narrative construction in fiction, illustrating a lyrical ‘I’ in contemporary autobiographical poetry that is ‘beyond fiction’. Paradoxically, this is due in part to Knausgaard’s novel, where moving beyond fiction is about discovering an artistic and authentic way to re-establish a proximity to the world. Through the examination of Hassan’s poetry collection and the immediate literary context, this article explores the underlying moral, aesthetic, and mediatized aspects of lyrical self-presentation in contemporary Danish poetry, and more generally. Self-disclosure and the use of private material are therefore not strategies for doing away with the subject but, rather, ways of reclaiming it.

Author Biography

Stefan Kjerkegaard, University of Aarhus

Dr Stefan Kjerkegaard is associate professor for Scandinavian Literature at the School of Communication and Culture at the University of Aarhus, Denmark. His research focuses on contemporary Danish and Scandinavian literature, and in particular how literature and literary theory change in a time of new media. Stefan has published various articles and monographs on autobiographical literature, humor, autofiction, modernist poetry, and on the interplay of literature and media.





The Self in Verse