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En kväll i oktober rodde jag ut på sjön Tua Forsström, En kväll i oktober rodde jag ut på sjön (One Evening in October, I Rowed Out on the Lake)

Schildts & Söderströms,  2012.

Reviewed by Murrell Martin and Anna-Lisa in SBR 2013:S

Review Section: Poetry


Translations of several poems from En kväll i oktober... appear in the special SBR issue Cool Swedish Titles from Finland.


Each of the 32 poems in this little volume, the author’s thirteenth, could have an explication devoted to it, running to a monograph. However, the individual items not only have a life of their own but are inextricably linked to one another: they work together as a community, like bees in a hive. Despite this, one comes away from the work feeling there is still much more one could do – to enrich one’s experience, to continue to listen to the individual inner sounds and meanings, to arrive at a perception of even greater overall coherence and cohesion. It is not an easy text to absorb; learning the whole work by heart might be a necessary first step.

While a handful of the pieces are in couplets, and one in quatrains, the lines are irregular in length, and rhyme is eschewed.  Free verse, or what William Carlos  Williams refers to as the ‘variable foot’, is the structural basis of Forsström’s poetry. Of the various levels of metrical analysis, the predominant one here is the natural rhythmical rather than the traditional metrical or musical with the result that, when the metrical does appear, it makes a special impact, often having iconic or mimetic force. The poet surprises on a number of occasions in this way with a series of structurally similar feet, echoing parts of the three-lined prologue. The first line of this opening sets the scene, extracting an essence of central images in its initial trochees, while the second, in musical scansion, slips into triple-time dactyls: An evening with roses that sink to the bottom. Further on, in context, such unexpected foregrounded cadences startle with their striking relevance.

The poems are splattered with raindrops, strong winds, darkness and snow, with syllables creating embedded  haikoids, with extended images of parallel  realities, where the smallest particles are fragmented further, and the momentary brilliance of fireworks is replaced by Yayoi Kusama’s installation, her eternal Gleaming Lights of the Souls. And in those points of luminosity are we all, appearing as reflections of one another – reflections of reflections. The poet believes we are made of water, longing, and particles in the wind that blows repeatedly, in poem after poem. We live in dreams, not necessarily  our own, in a dark that’s shared equally,  and roses return at the end to rain over all the animals, as the mature poet tells the child in herself she need no longer be a scared little hare. A breath-taking, uplifting experience.


Other reviews in SBR 2013:S


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