Tag: Books: Poetry


Review: Bloodhoof

Posted 10 June, 2019 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Bloodhoof
By: Gerður Kristný, Rory McTurk (Translator)
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Bloodhoof is the re-casting into compulsively spare modern verse of an ancient Eddic poem – but this only begins to hint at its attractions. It is a minimalist epic telling of the abduction of Gerdur Gymisdottir from the land of giants to the court of Freyr of the ‘wolf-grey eyes’, and the subsequent events culminating in the birth of her son and her hopes of being saved by her own kin.

It is full of iron-hard rocks and ice, serpents in the breast gnawing at the harness of hope, but also wide-reaching fields of corn whispering in the breeze and a throne carved with beasts and dragons-heads. You could read the whole book in perhaps half an hour but it will take many months or years to begin to clear the ghosts and long-dead heroes from your mind.

I first encountered this book while I was in Iceland; there was this bookstore I had visited the first time I was there and revisited it again recently. However I didn’t pick up a copy of this book until I returned to Canada–bought way too many books as it was at the time!

Bloodhoof was a wonderful read. I don’t remember encountering the original Eddic poem when I read the poems a few years back, but thankfully this book has an introduction that introduces the original poem and where Kristny draws her sources from to write this book. I especially love the fact that this book is bilingual, with the original poem in Icelandic set at the top and the English translation at the bottom; Icelandic is a complex language but I always appreciate it when a book is bilingual like that, you can refer to it. The poem itself is minimalist but rich in imagery and feeling.

Suffice to say I really enjoyed this poem and glad I picked it up 🙂

Rating: ★★★★★

Learn more about the author on Wikipedia || Order this book from The Book Depository

Two Book Reviews

Posted 5 June, 2019 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The following are two reviews (sort of) that didn’t warrant a post of their own. Unfortunately this post is a bit of a downer, but I also didn’t want to pass them off and not post about them, if that makes any sense lol.

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Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was
By: Sjon
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

The year is 1918 and in Iceland the erupting volcano Katla can be seen colouring the sky night and day from the streets of Reykjavik. Yet life in the small capital carries on as usual, despite the natural disaster, a shortage of coal and, in the outside world, the Great War grinding on.

There, sixteen-year-old M·ni Steinn lives for the new fashion – the movies. Asleep he dreams altered versions of them, their tapestry of events threaded with strands from his own life. Awake he hovers on the fringes of society. But then the Spanish flu epidemic comes ashore, killing hundreds and driving thousands into their sick beds. The shadows of existence deepen and for M·ni everything changes.

Capturing Iceland at a moment of profound transformation, this is the story of a misfit in a place where life and death, reality and imagination, secrets and revelations jostle for dominance. With not a word wasted, this mesmerising and original novel is the work of a major international writer.

It’s funny, I was actually eyeing this book the last time I was in Iceland but didn’t pick it up at the time. So this time around when I went I did have it on my mind to pick up a copy 😉

It’s my first Sjon novel so I’m not sure how it holds up compared to his other books. I thought it was an interesting read, reading how the Spanish flu affected Iceland, what life was like in Reykjavik in the early 20th century. There is also the added factor of what it was like to be a homosexual in Iceland in the early 20th century (though Mani I think was bi? I wasn’t sure if it was intrigue or infatuation re: Sola).

All in all it was an interesting read, although the epilogue chapter seemed tacked on and a bit of a leap for me. Nonetheless I’m glad to have picked it up and to have finally read a novel by Sjon.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Visit the author’s official website

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Waitress in Fall
By: Kristin Omarsdottir
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

For over three decades, the work of Kristin Omarsdottir has thrived in the vanguard of Icelandic literature. Waitress in Fall offers anglophone readers the first substantial selection of her poems in translation. Spanning thirty years and seven collections – from her first to her latest – this wide-reaching introduction celebrates a vital voice in contemporary European poetry.

Kristin Omarsdottir’s work resists the sweet, the neat or the certain. Her poems delight in the lush mess of actual life, in its hands and fingers, lemons and clocks, socks, soldiers, snow, knives, mothers, nightstands, sweat, and crockery. The domestic is at the heart of the poems, but it is a domesticity tinged with threat: something `clear and ominous’ persists between the lines.

These are surreal, unsettling landscapes, in which children lap milk from trees and car tyres are `soft as skin’. But Kristin’s poems are also full of laughter, sex, and love. They accept vulnerability as a condition of intimacy. Erupting `wherever thirst is ignited’, they are not afraid to strike, to rage, recognising a right – a responsibility – to risk the necessary word, even to `wound the language’.

This book kept following me in Iceland: at the bookstore, then at the airport, so I decided to pick it up, lol. As I haven’t heard of this poet until I visited Iceland this time around, picking up a book that spans much of her work these last few decades seem like the best place to start. It’s a great collection that indeed touches on the above topics, especially that of love and intimacy, and certainly raises that of everyday things we see, touch, and do to new heights. Definitely worth checking out.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Learn more about the author on Wikipedia || Order this book from the Book Depository

Review: Poems

Posted 25 June, 2018 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Poems
By: Anne Michaels
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Prior to her stunning first novel, Fugitive Pieces, Anne Michaels had already won awards and critical acclaim for two books of poetry: The Weight of Oranges (1986), which won the Commonwealth Prize for the Americas, and Miner’s Pond (1991), which received the Canadian Authors Association Award and was short-listed for the Governor General’s Award and the Trillium Award. Although they were published separately, these two books, along with Skin Divers, a collection of Michaels’s newest work, were written as companion volumes.

Poems brings all three books together for the first time, creating for American readers a wonderful introduction to Anne Michaels’s poetry. Meditative and insightful, powerful and heart-moving, these are poems that, as Michael Ondaatje has written, “go way beyond games or fashion or politics . . . They represent the human being entire.”

I read her latest poetry collection, All We Saw (review) earlier this year and really enjoyed it so I decided to check out her earlier poetry. I’m glad they released it as a collected volume, which is quite handy.

Reading this collection was really interesting. Definitely felt different than her latest collection, a lot of the poems were longer (All We Saw I found had more shorter poetry, in reflection of the themes and experiences she was writing about) and they all told a story–mostly biographical–in lyrical language. i loved some of the descriptors she used, I never thought of using them in such a way but they were absolutely wonderful in her writings. Stories about her family, her experiences, about love…I can’t say it lingered long after I read it compared to other poetry collections but I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless and highly recommend checking out her poetry if you’re looking for more Canadian poets to read.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Visit the author’s official website || Order this book from The Book Depository

Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 3 May, 2018 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Hallo everyone! This is my first review here on the blog in quite a while, and suffice to say I’m starting off small because I read a small bit in the last few weeks but unfortunately didn’t jot down enough notes to remember them all in-depth. So here we are instead 😛 Included in this batch are:


Drafts, Fragments, and Poems: The Complete Poetry
By: Joan Murray
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

The first appearance of this award-winning writer’s work since the 1940s, this collection, which includes an introduction by John Ashbery, restores Joan Murray’s striking poetry to its originally intended form.

Though John Ashbery hailed Joan Murray as a key influence on his work, Murray’s sole collection, Poems, published after her death at the early age of twenty-four and selected by W. H. Auden for inclusion in the Yale Series of Younger Poets, has been almost entirely unavailable for the better part of half a century. Poems was put together by Grant Code, a close friend of Murray’s mother, and when Murray’s papers, long thought to be lost, reappeared in 2013, it became clear that Code had exercised a heavy editorial hand. This new collection, edited by Farnoosh Fathi from Murray’s original manuscripts, restores Murray’s raw lyricism and visionary lines, while also including a good deal of previously unpublished work, as well as a selection of her exuberant letters.

Okay, I never heard of Joan Murray until I saw the Instagram account for NYRB post about this upcoming collection and posted a few snippets of her poetry. I was intrigued–read a lot of high praise about her work–so I decided to check her work out. Admittedly I read this book a few months ago and did not write any notes anywhere so my memory of my reaction to this book is a bit hazy but I remember enjoying it, the imagery choice she uses was quite intriguing. But the impression that was left in my mind first and foremost was that reminder that poetry can be whatever you make it to be, however you want to express yourself using the words at your disposal, arranged by way your mind, perspective, and creativity makes of it.

So yeah, if you’re looking for new poets from the early twentieth century to check out, definitely look in to this book! It’s great that NYRB is showcasing so many different poets from different periods, I’m finding out about lots of new poets this way 🙂

Rating: ★★★★☆

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So You Want to Read… (Poetry, Part IV)

Posted 27 April, 2018 by Lianne in Lists / 0 Comments

So You Want to Read… is a monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! 🙂

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts. Anyway, in celebration of National Poetry Month, I figured it’s a good time to bust out these feature again and talk about some of the poetry books and poets that I would whole-heartedly recommend on checking out, whether you’re already a big reader of poetry or if you’re checking them out for the first time.

  • Louise Labe — Ever been in love (reciprocated or unrequited)? Well, her poetry captures it all–the highs, the lows, the hopes, and the in-betweens. What’s also really cool if you’re a language buff or enthusiast is that the NYRB collection is bilingual so you can read the poem in its original French or Italian (review).
  • Miguel Hernandez — Easily hands down my second favourite Spanish poet after Federico Garcia Lorca. His use of imagery, the emotions that he captures in his words is just amazing and gripping…I don’t know what else to say about his poetry, it’s something to experience; I’m so glad NYPB published his works for an English-speaking audience (review).
  • Giuseppe Ungaretti — I likened his poetry to that of Federico Garcia Lorca’s; there’s something about his use of imagery, the sparse but perplexing and illuminating themes he tackles in his works. This collection of selected poetry (review) is the only one I could find that’s available in English but it’s worth checking out, especially as I hadn’t encountered much Italian poetry until last year.
  • Faraway — There’s a lot of micro-poets out there on Instagram that it can perhaps be a bit fatiguing. But I’ve been following Faraway on Instagram for more than a year and what I find that resonates with me with their work is how, despite its briefness and its micro nature, it doesn’t feel bogged down in stylistics compared to Leav Lang or Nayyirah Waheed; it’s accessible and they write about experiences and feelings we can relate to on a daily basis. Anyway I was delighted to see they collected their poetry into a book, Sad Birds Still Sing (review).
  • Anne Michaels — My brief review of her latest collection, All We Saw, won’t be published here on the blog until…next week, I believe, but nonetheless her sparse but introspective prose has definitely resonated with me. I can’t believe I didn’t read her stuff sooner…and she’s Canadian! Based here in Toronto! But yeah, her work first caught my attention when Penguin Random House, in promoting her latest book, posted one of her latest poems (not included in her latest collection by the way, which was a bit of a bummer), May Love Seize You.



And that’s my list! Do you read poetry? Curious on checking these out? If you want to check out more poetry, there’s of course my poetry books to check out 😉 Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂