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Tre Vägar Katarina Frostenson, Tre Vägar (Three Routes)

Wahlström & Widstrand,  2013.

Reviewed by Anna Tebelius in SBR 2014:1

Review Section: Fiction


With Tre Vägar (Three Routes) the poet  Katarina Frostenson has written a hybrid  text combining prose poem, journal,  autobiography and travelogue. Described  by its publisher as ‘words en route’, it  is a fragmentary pilgrimage to three  seemingly disconnected places. In the  first passage, ‘Svartmålningen’ (The Black  Painting), Frostenson takes the reader  to the area where she grew up, one she  has written about in previous poetry  collections. In ‘Strandränderna’ (The  Sand-Lines), she explores a recurrent  theme in her poems: the shoreline,  the beach and the sand formed by the  elements. Finally, ‘Konstvandringen’ (The  Art Hike) recalls a journey to see a  painting that has captivated and inspired  her. 

I used the word ‘pilgrimage’ because  it connects the three routes taken  for the sake of wandering. Walking is  as important as the goal, the creative  process of writing as important as  the poem. It is through the idea of the  journey and the pilgrimage that I can  understand this book. Each section  touches upon something essential in  Frostenson’s writing – the idea of being  in the moment, of describing a state. 

The word pilgrim comes from the  Latin peregrinus, meaning foreigner.  From this, a group of devout itinerants,  who set out in the early years of Celtic  Christianity to found monasteries  and churches on the wildest, most  inaccessible parts of the British and Irish  shores, were named as peregrini. Robert Macfarlane describes their desire to  seek out the wilderness as a longing to  achieve correspondence between faith  and place, between inner and outer  landscapes. Their poetry spoke of an  intricate and precise relationship with  nature and their pilgrimage was to seek  the wild to find their faith.

Frostenson becomes a pilgrim, a  peregrine, when she attempts to describe  her own inner and outer landscapes and  evoke for the reader both a wilderness  and an otherness. In Tre vägar, this desire  is manifested in the three diverging  routes, each singing to the reader about  intersecting aspects of what make up  Frostenson’s poetics. 

The first and longest fragment  touches me most by its personal  intimacy and the glimpse it offers of the  workings of the poet’s mind. As the poet  discovers her own words crossed out,  graffitied over, on a plaque in recognition  of her, it initiates remembrance of past  beginnings. Underneath the obscured  words, other words emerge, about her  mother and about being from ‘here’.  We follow a route through a familiar  landscape, its poetic topology charted  in previous poems. It starts with  remembrance for me, too. As I read,  I realise that I recognise the bridges,  abandoned spaces and tower-blocks.  They are equally mine. I, too, have left the  same suburbs behind. It ends with a Bach  concert in Uppenbarelsekyrkan – the  Church of Revelations – near to where I  was born, high above the city. 

In its poetics, Tre vägar certainly  reveals more about the poet Katarina  Frostenson than a traditional biography  could. It allows the reader to join her  on a pilgrimage through a personal inner  landscape of rhythm, inspiration and  language, where she is still wandering.


Also by Katarina Frostenson

  • Flodtid (Flood Hour). Reviewed by Anna Tebelius in SBR 2012:1.
  • Karkas fem linjer (Karkas Five Lines). Reviewed by Frank Perry in SBR 2005:2.

Other reviews by Anna Tebelius


Other reviews in SBR 2014:1


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