cover image The Warmth of a Taxidermied Animal

The Warmth of a Taxidermied Animal

Tytti Heikkinen. Translated by Niina Pollari. Action (SPD, dist.), $16 trade paper (116p) ISBN 978-0-9831480-6-7

Confounding and thought-provoking, shocking yet wise, this first appearance in English from a celebrated enfant terrible of verse in Finland has something Americans won’t, or shouldn’t, ignore. Stanzas, pages, paragraphs, and sequences offer a postmodern perspective at once bracing and perverse, proclaiming “You are here, and here continues in every direction,” or deciding that “Characteristics whose worth is evident only when measured against eternity are particularly hard to value.” Yet, beside these uncanny meta-poetic, meta-fictional statements, come outbursts of shocking sexuality, violent, orgiastic or comically casual. Asking how to “scramble ‘subjects’ and/ ‘objects’ ” or penetrating “a hallucination whose shape is like our imagination,” Heikkinen heightens the weirdness of everyday life, most often in language that seems clear until scrutinized. Anomalous and sure to get outsized attention is a sequence called “Läski XL” (“Fatty XL”), composed in semi-literature text-message English and overflowing with self-loathing: “It’s cold when I/ lay here and im an undisciplined fatty… Other ppl don’t gotta/ comment.” Such passages could endear Heikkinen to American proponents of the intentionally dodgy poetry called Flarf. Yet Heikkinen’s project seems broader, and weirder, than theirs. (Nov.)