Kittelsen had his debut as a poet in 1970. He has since than published several poetry cycles and collections, as well as fables, dramatic works and translations of poetry.
He is known for his dialogues, partly with colleagues and partly in the work with the translation of poetry from distant languages in relation to the Nordic language area like Arabian, Persian, Korean, Latvian and Sumerian.
He also has poetical dialogue with the most ancient poetical traditions in the Nordic Countries – the Old Norse Poetic Edda where at first he translates the old text and than presents a contemporary literary answer. Erling is known as a writer who renews language, a poet and storyteller. He is a writer who moves in untraditional ways, both with the language in his books and dramatic works and his literary activity through events and happenings. His last play has been translated and performed several times in the Middle East.
He has received several literary prices, amongst them The Aschehoug Prize (awarded on a binding recommendation by the Norwegian Critics Organization), The Dobloug Prize (awarded by the Swedish Academy) and Vindtorn-Prize (The national poetry prize).
Here are a few quotes about Erling’s work:
«Poems that give goose-bums.»
The political poetry is not dead. Not as long as Erling Kittelsen keeps up his writing.
He challenges both George Bush and the Norwegian politicians.
Still his poems are so much more than political statements. They are strong literature.
Kittelsen´s writing create images, gives me deep emotions, attitudes and intentions and meaning in an often wordless way. In this sense the book is scary but at the same time endlessly exciting. At its best (or worst, depending on the moment..) it even challenges me existentially.
Tonje Tornes, Vårt land 19.11.2005
«Turns society upside down.»
Kittelsen proves that fabel and myth can be of much use as a doorstep to most things in life.If you want to characterise his works its social modernism with mythological goods. The rhythmic poems start in the outer world. To Kittelsen no culture is distant. It´ s all near to those who want to keep their eyes open.
Henning Howlid Værp, Aftenposten, 31.10.2010
«Dangerously good stuﬀ.»
The poems are sailing. Give in and follow them on their journey, become a part of the strong images. You will be taken to places you´re guaranteed never to have seen before and yet it´s like you recognise something. The recognition striking in several directions at the same time, because this poetic universe is supernatural with over- and outside worlds interwoven.
Arne Hugo Stølan, VG 4.12.2005