cover image The Collected Poems of Anselm Hollo

The Collected Poems of Anselm Hollo

Anselm Hollo, edited by John Bloomberg-Rissman and Yasmina Ghiasi. Coffee House, $55 (1,000p) ISBN 978-1-56689-685-6

Presented in one generous volume for the first time, Finnish poet Hollo’s avant-garde poems are drawn from over five decades of musings and ruminations that display his blend of humor, sagacity, and whimsy through unexpected observations about daily life, history, and art. “In the Land of Art” begins: “the artists/ work on the art farm.// They store the art they make/ in the art barn.// Once in a while, they take some out/ & take it to the art store.// When the art store sells some,/ they take their share/ & put it in the art bank.” The list grows more absurd (“they wash their clothes at the art laundromat,” and stay “at the art hotel”), playfully emphasizing the presence of art in all the artist does. The tenor and tone of Hollo’s work is markedly different in “Last Poem,” which the epigraph calls a “ ‘just the facts’ account taking form as poetry” after the poet’s second brain surgery. The piece evocatively opens, “wild dreams// getting dressed in odd tweed suit/ to catch train in helsinki call up papa mama/ to hurry up ‘train is leaving at ____’/ it appears we’re still living in soviet days.” This is a valuable and comprehensive retrospective. (Aug.)