Hip Hip: "Ideals Clearance" by Henry Parland, trans. Johannes Goransson, UDP 2007

I'm not Swedish, but then neither was Henry Parland, and that didn't stop him from writing lines like: "Visst/ar havet som en kvinna." It doesn't stop me from enjoying them, either, thanks to Johannes Goransson's new translation, Ideals Clearance. That line, by the way, in English is, "Sure/the ocean is like a woman."

The book contains an introduction to the Life and Work of Henry Parland, "a Finno-Swedish Russian German Lithuanian teen prodigy from the 1920s," as Eliot Weinberger puts it. The chapter headings are: STAINS (FLACKAR), SOCKS (STRUMPOR), FLU (INFLUENSA), and GRIMACES (GRIMASER). When Parland first published in 1929, the critics decried his work as nihilistic, childish, and fragmentary. On one hand, yes to all of the above, but that's the beauty of it. They just didn't get the kid's sense of humor. Despite some incomprehension on the part of Parland's contemporaries, each poem suggests a perceptible thought. All the poems are short, marked by irregular rhythm. Some are simply descriptive, evocative, but most end (or begin) with a twist and a smile. In his life as in his poetry, Parland evidenced a tendency to flow with idiosyncrasies, to shrug and sometimes dance with them. Each pause of wonderment, contemplative frown, and spark of laughter is an insight into the world he saw around him. Preoccupation with: nature, ideas, advertisements, technology, women's legs.

Instead of dregding my own brain for words to convey how clever and fun this book of poetry is, I really just want to flip around to random pages (or rather, a choice selection of my favorites). Read them and then you'll know!



who think
Satan wears golden clothes
Satan doesn't wear any clothes!
In all of hell
there are at most two or three
pairs of shabby discount pants.
at hell's howling nudity.



No no no!
We have to lie larger
up to the heavens!

Spit out
all the rotten truthleftovers,
trample, tear
their twitchstick bodies.



Tales without meaning
mumbles the ocean
to the wind and the beach-pines
- old, cruel tales.

Wail wind,
turn away pines,
flee white clouds!
- these are old, cruel tales
without meaning.


All I have left to say is: Hooray for Johannes Goransson and Ugly Duckling Presse for creating this book.


-Sally Zebrick 

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