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A Tenant Here
Selected Poems, 1977-1997. Poetry Europe S. No. 7
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What Reviewers Are Saying
Though Holappas first collection of poems was published in Finland in 1950 and he has produced a large body of work since then, in poetry and in prose, this volume represents the first of Holappas writings to be translated into English. Clearly, few readers will miss the Finnish originals and fewer still will be able to comment on the accuracy of Lomass translation, but the Holappa that emerges here is urbane, measured, and able to address an admirable mixture of themes and dilemmas. The foreign reader immediately recognizes the unfamiliar ground merely by listening to a list of Holappas fears in The Last Time But One: Theres no hope / If arctic erosion will crush into sludge the land / I belong to. Ecological disaster is a consistent worry, but Holappa is perhaps primarily a love poet. His poems do not aim for subtlety, and yet they can charm in their brusque simplicity: I listen to Jung on the radio, / pricking my ears at death and folk tales. / My dog barks at imaginary noises. / The point is: I want your love. In this poem and others, love often figures as a quasi-apocalyptic force whose bare naming always risks overstatement. The lover is usually far away, sometimes impossibly far, as distant as the poet from his readers. Holappas poems do lack a certain tonal range; they often sacrifice nuance in the name of probity. This is no doubt an unfashionable strategy for American poets at the moment, but its rarity here makes of Holappas limitations a modest opportunity to read differently and see our own habits in a clearer light. Lomass translations are smooth, and as close to idiomatic English as one should ask. The poetry itself is well worth the effort it demands. (Kirkus Reviews)