May 29, 2006
I picked this up for $4 at Half Price Books in Berkeley a couple of months ago when I saw Ibsen's Master Builder around the corner at the Aurora Theater.
There are moments in Olofsson's first English appearance (he's Swedish), as in "In Memory of Me and Gunnar Ekelof":
One has to be practical
I develop myself
at every moment
in rapid series
without a single copy.
Whatever is shall be irradiated
and rinsed clean of shit
and the sheen that shines from borrowed light (ll. 1-8).
But outside of these few moments, the poems are perfectly safe and nicely structured, most having that aha!! twist at the end that delivers the requisite message of the poem; take for example the last three lines of "Freeing the Shadow":
You set your shadow free and watch it run
along roads no one else can see.
And then, in the night, you follow it.
These poems could easily stand alongside the best of what gets into survey poetry course anthologies; they're just abstract enough, use just the right amount of nature symbolism, etc... They kinda read like a reread of an old issue of Poetry.