Jóhannes úr Kötlum, born Jóhannes Bjarni Jónasson (November 4, 1899 – April 27, 1972) was an Icelandic author/poet and a member of parliament. He is one of the most loved Icelandic poets – not least for his verse for children and how beautifully his words flow in the Icelandic language – making them ideal for songs. Indeed, his poems have been a constant inspiration for composers, songwriters and musicians in Iceland. More than two hundred songs and compositions have been written based on his poems/lyrics, some even performed by internationally recognised artists such as Björk here performing the song about The Christmas Cat.

One of the salient figures of modern Icelandic poetry, Jóhannes mastered both the intricate traditional forms and the modern, but as an outspoken, idealistic and sometimes scathing critic of political institutions, he courted controversy and often drew the ire of political opponents. Jóhannes began his career as a neo-romantic poet in the 1920s, but later became a leading force among the radical poets of the depression era. After WWII he revolted against the traditional form, renewing his poetry through his originality and artistry. He was a spokesman for peace throughout his life and fought vigorously against Iceland’s occupation by foreign armies.

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