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Eva Runefelt, I ett förskingrat nu (In a Scattered Present)

Albert Bonniers förlag,  2007. ISBN: 9789100113063

Reviewed by Frank Perry in SBR 2009:1

Eva Runefelt’s work has long been celebrated for its particular ‘fusion of language, sensibility and time’. One of her great accomplishments as a poet is an ability to reveal in the objects of the phenomenal world a ‘music’ of embodied experience, a music that may haunt the reader’s imagination.The dead – their words, images, memories – provide both the resistance and the motivating force for that creative process. As prelude to the four suites of poems it contains, In a Scattered Present – Eva Runefelt’s eighth and most recent collection – opens with ‘The Three Letters – For Horace’: a ‘dialogue’ between the Roman poet and the author on the conditions of poetry. This is a thoughtful, sometimes comical and rather beautiful coming to terms with what the contemporary writersees as the closed door of a classical approach. But then, as the poet wonders, isn’t it at the closed door she listens most keenly? Moreover, Horace is ‘port i porten’, the gate in the gateway – no poet of the present can write without hearing, listening, remembering the poets of the past. The past, the sense of its presence, is scattered through the present of these poems.The way the dead resist oblivion may signal the poet’s grief at the loss of a much loved mother or the ending of a relationship, the absence of a lover, but it also has to do with the writing of poetry. The dead in question include not only the poet’s loved ones but also other poets including both the author of the Ars poetica and the great Finland-Swedish modernist Edith Södergran. Among their companions in In a Scattered Present are the key figures of the Egyptian goddess Isis and the sixteenth-century Spanish Infanta Juana.The myth tells us that Isis wandered over the face of the earth collecting the scattered and dismembered parts of her brother/husband Osiris so that he could be resurrected. Juana, the daughter of Isabella and Ferdinand, refused to allow the body of her dead husband to be buried. Amidst the scattered instants of the present come moments of illumination, of connection, of a resurrection (and here I mean both that of the dead and in the sense of language being able to resurrect experience and memory) whose potentially overwhelming force is conveyed here in an extract from the poem ‘Tanke’ (Thought): If I were here, merry-go-round and mindful, marbled and Alhambra blue, I would be a roan rushed from the earth too big for its bridle And it is no accident, perhaps, that a creature with nine lives should also feature in this collection. In ‘Kattpupill’ (Cat Pupil), Runefelt marries the sensitivity of her awareness with a keenness of observation to capture the strange immediacy, the very presence, of a different kind of mind: Squirrel-tailed wolf in disguise on this furtive, nocturnal planet where things fork in abrupt scents

Also by Eva Runefelt

  • Minnesburen (The Memory Cage). Reviewed by Anna Tebelius in SBR 2014:2.

Other reviews by Frank Perry

Other reviews in SBR 2009:1

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