Ellen Heiberg

1930 - 2013


Ellen Heiberg was born in Jutland and moved to Copenhagen in her youth, where she worked as a secretary and laboratory worker. She made her debut in 1972 with songbooks and in the late 1970s was one of the leading minimalist lyricists linked to the publisher Klitrose, which also published Lola Baidel. The poetry collection Kærligheden er en fugl was published in 1978 and was soon followed by poems, songs, and ballads, including Viser mellem sorg og glæde, 1978, the poems Tillid, 1981, and Klovn med mange munde, 1983. She has contributed to several anthologies, such as Kærligheden dør aldrig en naturlig død, 1981, which came into being in connection with a highly successful tour in 1980-81.

Ellen Heiberg’s poems are unpretentious: simple syntax and plain words pin down a universe of female experience consisting of palpitating hearts, want, panic, and vulnerability. Lovers kiss and argue in her verse, and the dreamy and floating state of love rarely endures in the oppressive routines of daily life. Her poems retell fairy-tales with flair, imbuing them with relevance and the simple punch lines which went straight to the heart of the gender role debate of the day. Ellen Heiberg later went on to write texts for songs and cantatas, including for the Sankt Annæ Gymnasium girls’ choir.