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112 THE MINNESOTA REVIEW Thomas McGrath. Open Songs: Sixty ShortPoems. Uzzano Press: Box 169, Mount Carroll IL 61063, 1977. no pagination. $2. McGrath, one of this country's best poets on the left, has not received the attention he deserves. Open Songs are not haikus, or not many of them are, but they have a haiku brevity and polish. Many are thoughts dressed in imagery: Anonymity has a name; Which Terror knows. Some seem direct transcripts ofexperience: The wind groans through the trees, Dragging its heavy cargo Of coarse fur. Though sharp, the tones are muted. A leash is kept on the eye. Henrik Nordbrandt. SelectedPoems, tr. Alexander Taylor and Nadia Christensen. Curbstone Press: 321 Jackson St., Willimantic, CT 06226, 1978. 83pp. $4.50 This is a very good book. Everywhere in it language is used with precision. This is not to say that Nordbrandt writes about concrete things like lawnmowers and boots. He usually focusses on process, which gives his poems an abstract quality that resembles, but definitely is not, contemporary surrealism. His processes are as definite and as complex as lawnmowers, as a "A Life": You struck a match and its flame blinded you so you couldn't find what you were looking for in the darkness before the match burned out between your fingers and pain made you forget what you were looking for. Few of the poems have this traditional sense ofwholeness. More often, the experience is one of being in the presence of—as opposed to being brought to—a kind of airy energy. The poems are like slabs of bright limestone, cut but still sitting in the quarry. A good bit of the book is taken up with Mediterranean landscapes, real and imagined. Nordbrandt's fascination with this world isn't clear to me yet, but it produces the effect of an encounter with something ancient and, because of that, important. The ways in which these ancient worlds are brought into the present are often brilliant. "Our Love is like Byzantium" ends: When I turn towards you in bed, I have a feeling of steppinginto a church that was burned down long ago and where only the darkness in the eyes of the icons has remained filled with the flames which annihilated them. My favorite of these poems, "Baklava," again about annihilation, involves not ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
p. 112
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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