Icelandic Light

I sampled her Strawberries. I was impressed by Beth Follet's Pedlar Press production of Small Arguments with its spacious and airy layout of these delicate poems. The perfect pairing of publisher and poet returns with Light by Souvankham Thammavongsa. Look at how she handles the liveliness of un-English line endings in "Ljós".

In Icelandic the word for light is ljós

And the word for poem is ljóð

What happens at the end can change everything
And there follows a whole plotting of possibilities based in the description of the letters. And the next poem is a meditation on the Lao word for "fire" in a collection given over the modalities of Light.

What is often memorable about these poems so infused with white space and effects of indentation is how they come to turns of phrase that do not suffer from being lifted and learnt by heart. Take the ending of "A Starfish" where the reader comes to a general and portable saying, takes it up as his or her own: "looking back / at where it was / / as where it was / looks back / at where it could be". Makes a fine statement about how we use the past to bridge our way to a future.

And so for day 1094