Woods and Chalices
Inspired by Rimbaud and Ashbery, the Slovenian poet Tomaž Šalamun is now inspiring the younger generation of American poets—and Woods and Chalices will secure his place in the ranks of influential, experimental twenty-first-century writers. Šalamun’s strengths are on display here: innocence and obscenity, closely allied; a great historical reach; and questions, commands, a...more
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published April 14th 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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I wanted to decide that the emperor had no clothes and set this aside. The poems toy with meaning, with places, with pronouns, but there are few entry points for the reader. The rich sonics kept me going, wondering how such language could drive the English lines and at what remove from the Slovenian originals. Finally I started using old bus passes to mark favorites and waiting expectantly for the next break in the fog that would make me go "yeah." The yeah-poems aren't any more coherent than th...more
I like Salamun's poems in the same way that i like first-wave European free jazz--it is folly to pick and choose chunks of it to pay attention to because it is all of a piece and mostly too densely packed to allow for intricate strands to emerge. Periodically, moments of clarity arise and you glimpse the poet and amidst the surrealism and the history and the post-logical jumps, beauty winks at you and disappears back into the swirling chaos.
Salamun's style of poetry is a bit surrealist for my taste in general, but I adored this collection. Will definitely be purchasing to add to my library and reread. There are lots of surprising and striking juxtapositions that accrete to something more than the sum of the individual ideas or images.
I was really looking forward to these poems after giving Salamun five stars for his Selected Poems I read years ago. This book though just didn't have the same impact on me. A little flat and unremarkable, though there were several I was fond of.
Tomaž Šalamun is a Slovenian poet, who has had books translated into most of the European languages. He lives in Ljubljana and occasionally teaches in the USA. His recent books in English are The Book for My Brother, Row, and Woods and Chalices.More about Tomaž Šalamun...