Monday, April 16, 2018



(Malmö: Dracopis Press, 2016)

Swedish Poetry Nowadays: An Anthology of 6 Poets in the 21st Century is not a comprehensive anthology of Swedish poetry, but it does not try to be.  Kristian Carlsson, the editor and translator, presents the work of six excellent poets who use innovative techniques.  Three men, three women—all with distinct styles, and with each, we get enough of a selection to get a sense of their writing.  This feature is what makes this collection so worthwhile—the reader can put it down with a sense of really having encountered a vibrant element of Swedish poetry now. 

And each poet in the is quite different.  For example, Johannes Anyuru presents poems that contain characters and elements of story:

A young girl plays the hollow metal
receptacle shaped as a saucer, crouching
by a wall

The squad car stops, rotates
into a corridor
of glimmering mirrors

The global state of violence
is the hollow core
of existence (20)

This story is, of course, brief, but in its condensation, we are left with many questions that are intriguing.  The last stanza especially pulls in a political theme.  We are not guided in what to think about it, but just given it to think about. 

Eva-Stina Byggmäastar’s work is quite lyrical but with an almost surreal element.

            my wilderness poets, I’m feeding them with blueberry
            porridge, they like that—yes, I was like a mother to them.
            but poets, if they existed.  live, in small. houses, their
            sofas ought to be comfy. 

In the short space of these lines, we have several layered images of poets who appear more like birds than people.  Byggmäastar’s poems contain narrative, but the narrative is metaphoric and pensive.  The reader is left with questions about the nature of the poetic act and the poet’s relation to it. 

Naima Chahboun, Martin Högström, Freke Räihä, and Matilda Södergran all present work that is compelling.  I knew Freke Räihä’s work already, but the rest were relatively new to me, and it is not easy to find their works in English.  In fact, the one thing I wish the book had was the poetry also in Swedish.  The English translations are so easy to ready, they almost seem like they are not translations, so it would be nice to look at the originals in comparison.  Either way, this collection makes a great step into presenting some Swedish poets in English, and it would be great to seem more collections like it. 


William Allegrezza edits the Moria Books and the e-zine Moss Trill.  He teaches at Indiana University Northwest. He has previously published many poetry books, including Step Below: Selected Poems 2000-2015, In the Weaver's Valley, Ladders in July, Fragile Replacements, Collective Instant, Aquinas and the Mississippi (with Garin Cycholl), Covering Over, and Densities, Apparitions; two anthologies, The City Visible: Chicago Poetry for the New Century and La Alteración del Silencio: Poesía Norteamericana Reciente; seven chapbooks, including Sonoluminescence (co-written with Simone Muench) and Filament Sense (Ypolita Press); and many poetry reviews, articles, and poems.  He also edited The Salt Companion to Charles Bernstein. He founded and curated series A, a reading series in Chicago, from 2006-2010. In addition, he occasionally posts his thoughts at P-Ramblings