Wednesday, April 15, 2009
With Deer's Inhumanity
There's a very interesting review of Aase Berg's "With Deer" (tr. Johannes Goransson) on Coldfront.
The reviewer claims that Berg is "channeling a voice that is not quite human" and in so doing exposes us as "intellectual animals," while generating in us "something ancient about the human intellect."
For me this is why With Deer is so attractive. The voice of the poems is scarcely human. It is animal. It is creature. But the poetry's completely under control. So, you have this rare and strange combination of Art that is very controlled (masterful and in this respect uniquely "human") while at the same time wild and dangerous-- filled with the shadows and lights of keen animal "consciousness.
A kind of wild-child. Or an insane person. Someone always on edge. Always on the edge.
Reading With Deer I get the feeling that the voice/force of the poem could at any point just cut my head off. Gut me. But just as much I have the feeling that the voice could harm itself. That I'm always about to walk in on a suicide: A pale body in a pale bathtub in a pale room (or in the middle of a field strewn through with flowers and/or bodies.)
I admire and sometimes delight in the artistic personality of With Deer (the strange language, images, constructions, juxtapositions) but I relish being in the presence of such a dangerous life-force personality (or "animality" or "creature-ality.")
It's rare for these two things to come together. An artist completely in control of a voice that's so high-strung, that's so completely in its own nerves and blood-- about to kill or self-kill at any moment.
The voice, feel and "personality" of Sylvia Plath's artistically accomplished poetry is the only comparison that comes right now to mind.
This sort of poetry, for all its greatness, isn't for everyone. Most people, instead, want this from their poets: