From Publishers Weekly
This ambitious, sprawling book-length poem from one of Sweden's leading lights aspires to consider almost everything: music in composition and performance, friends' illness and death, cosmology, sex, and metaphysics: Within myself I hear the dichotomies, recurrent/ on many levels, ontologically, epistemologically Also/ emotionally. Such abstract musings cut against Sonnevi's striking lyric interludes, as when he evokes The whirlwind of ash at my feet, invisible/ Where shall I set them down. Composed between 1992 and 1996, its 164 sections also react to European politics, including Sweden's vote on whether to enter the E.U. and the conflict and slaughter in Bosnia. Political economy makes an appearance, too (The sea of finance capital, of over 7 trillion dollars,/ moving freely over the surface of the globe). He wants, also, to see how social and artistic life and the sciences can merge and interact in his own mind, where There's no end to analyses We stand at the beginning of everything. Sonnevi's sentences sound admirably idiomatic in Lesser's rendering. Yet even Swedish readers (as Lesser notes) remain both fascinated and baffled by Sonnevi's informality and by his reach: for every American drawn to these long meditations, another may regard them as merely journals, a thoughtful poet's lengthy notes for an unwritten poem. (Oct.)
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“This ambitious, sprawling book-length poem from one of Sweden’s leading lights aspires to consider almost everything. . . . Sonnevi’s sentences sound admirably idiomatic in Lesser’s rendering.”—Publishers Weekly
“A massive poem that breaks almost every poetic convention. . . .The poem lures us, step by step, to suffer, to care, to mourn, and to live in an enlarged state of awareness. So large, finally, that it brings microcosm together with macrocosm, and brokenness together with wholeness, in a visionary ending that does not really end. . . . In this majestic, original, and painful poem, Göran Sonnevi has released a new form of fertility into the world.”—Rosanna Warren, from the Foreword
“Göran Sonnevi is one of the most unique and most accomplished poets writing anywhere in the world. There is no one like him in terms of the scope, the magnificence of his ambition for his work, and few come close to what he can technically manage…Brilliantly translated, Rika Lesser’s verse in English is supple and capacious.”—C.K. Williams
“Göran Sonnevi tries in this book something that’s impossible and breathtaking: a poetic synthesis wherein our knowledge and emotions should merge. . . A synthesis is not possible but what we’re given here is a wonderful meditation on the world of pain and beauty, of politics and music, nature and human relationships. A fantastic poem and fantastically translated by Rika Lesser!”— Adam Zagajewski
“Just what we need, another poem that can never stop being read, only entered, continued, lived. . . Lesser (what a name for the translator of the latest “wisdom literature” to hit the fan!) had to hear Sonnevi’s voice before she could (or would) do the work. In other words, loved the poem. And that is why we may read it, not well but as well: to hear the voice, in English now: entered, continued, lived. . . Yes, just what we need.”—Richard Howard