In the House of the Sun

By Bert Almon

A review of In the House of the Sun by Sonja A. Skarstedt

Published on April 1, 2005

In the House of the Sun
Sonja A. Skarstedt

Empyreal Press
$12.00
paper
100pp
0-921852-33-9

Sonja Skarstedt’s In the House of the Sun deals with Hawaii. The poems often read like travelogues, guidebook materials with line breaks. The average length of a poem seems to be three pages, and there is rarely enough substance for the length. The reader is given long descriptions of places in Hawaii and redactions of some rather obscure myths. Most of the poems are written in a second person point of view: it so obviously stands in for the first person that the reader quickly tires of the mannerism. Another unfortunate tic of style is the frequent use of parentheses to provide information and afterthoughts. Such materials could be incorporated into the narrative.

Visitors to the Hawaiian island of Maui often come away with t-shirts or bumper stickers saying “I survived the road to Hana.” These poems are a superhighway through the islands – the easy line breaks make that clear. Skarstedt is a talented writer who has been seduced by the charm of Hawaii and relies too much on simply telling us what she has observed or read about. The journey shouldn’t be that easy: as on the road to Hana, a rough trip makes the scenery more memorable. mRb

Bert Almon lives in Edmonton, Alberta. Retired from teaching, he follows the careers of his former students.

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