Beautiful Chaos

By rob mclennan

A review of Beautiful Chaos by Sonja A. Skarstedt

Published on April 1, 2001

Beautiful Chaos
Sonja A. Skarstedt

Empyreal Press
$12
paperback
108pp
0-921852-27-4

Sonja A. Skarstedt has done impressive things over the years as a publisher under the Empyreal name, even though she keeps starting the rumour that she’ll stop – No, this book is the last – for years. In her third poetry collection in ten years, Beautiful Chaos, her sense of order betrays, even through the veil of chaos. Skarstedt’s poems are to be read slow, and long, like a flavour of seasoning. Her poems read like individual narratives, with titles like “Emergency Room, 2:20 a.m.” or “Thursday Evening Trumpet Player.” In grand poems, she uses a lot of words to say a little – of the Dudek school, certainly, writing modernist poems about the moon. She reads most interesting when she steps outside the bounds of her own experience, such as in “Van Gogh on Rue Goyer,” or “Lovesong for Two Dying Meteors,” subtitled “contemplating a myth of Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera,” where she writes

whenever I reach for the latch on our door

my body in its fetal way

collapses back in the brine of sheets

and also in how she uses Artie Gold lines interspersed with her own, as in “A Photograph of Artie Gold,”

more of a statement than a question

his radius, as prearranged as the seasons

the earth coheres

to his nucleus of wisdom. mRb

rob mclennan is an Ottawa poet, editor and publisher.

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