Sunday, May 20, 2018

Nelson — Dag T. Straumsvåg (Proper Tales Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Nelson.  Dag T. Straumsvåg.  Proper Tales Press.  Cobourg, Ontario.  2017.

Not that Today's book of poetry won't/can't take responsibility, but I do have to tell you that Milo, our head tech and digital Prince, isn't in the office this morning.  That I was able to take a photo of Dag T. Straumsvåg's Nelson is an accomplishment.  I had help.  Odin, our former head of security, returned for a visit this morning and we were so damned happy to see him that we felt drunkAll of that before mumbling out an apology to Dag, Today's book of poetry is sorry our cover photo is sideways.  Damned Commodore 16.

As any of our regular readers knows — Today's book of poetry is a big fan of the Canadian poet Nelson Ball.  Nelson is the current champion of doing the most with the least, but his lean poetry is never sparse.  Today's book of poetry is not alone in our admiration (we have written about Nelson Ball several times over the years) of Sir Admiral Nelson Ball.

Norwegian poet Dag T. Straumsvåg wrote Nelson with his Highness Mr. Ball in mind, a tribute to be sure, but Dag wasn't intending to mimic Ball's style.  And he doesn't, Straumsvåg is a little closer in style to Stuart Ross, the irrepressible poet/publisher and all around mensch.

Dag T. Straumsvåg does capture Nelson Ball's whimsy though, a bit of his clear light.  These poems fall like a light rain but every image acts like a seed.

Winter Morning

of the year.
The fly
the windowsill
its front
to make 


Old Dag T. had a dark hue to his sense of humour, just the way we like it.  Today's book of poetry wanted to ask him about the Death Metal scene in the Botswana of his memory.  Now there's a poem that packs a Kung-Fu poetry punch.  

For such a small press Proper Tales Press continuously ups the ante with the breadth of their titles and authors.  Regular readers of this blog will know that Proper Tales Press publisher Stuart Ross (who we have written about several times on our blog) is a close friend of Today's book of poetry.  Our guest room is named after the man.

Mr. Ross casts an awfully wide net and it shows.  Proper Tales Press has a long and consistent record of original voices and Dag T. Straumsvåg joins an excellent chorus.

Many of the poems in this collection were written in English, those that were translated from Nynorsk read like they were written in English as well.  Invisible.

At The Bar

you'd better leave now

the waitress says in a friendly voice to the man
she points toward the door and the grainy dark outside

you'd better leave now


Our morning read was flat out zany.  Odin was back in the fold for the day and that brought a tear to my eye that I wanted no one to see.  I pretended I was sneezing when I pulled out my big hanky.  Thomas was happy to see Odin as well, Odin taught him what he knows.  So we let Odin lead the show.  These short poems were worth reading slowly.  This little collection left a big impression on us all.

Sometimes poems just seem to fit into your head space,  Dag T. Straumsvåg seems to have whittled his work down to fine, smooth projectile that always finds its mark.


We're offered amnesia
and we accept.

We can make good friends
out of blue clay.

We can count
the buttons on our shirts,

make history.
Our sleep is calm, roaming

with darkness in the hills,
learning to whistle.


Today's book of poetry hopes that every time someone reads Dag T. Straumsvåg's Nelson the poetry Gods nod a little more gently in Nelson Ball's way.  Nelson won't barge in uninvited, remains polite and well behaved.  That sly Nelson.  That sly Dag T. Straumsvåg.

Related image
Photo: Kapitonova
 Dag T. Straumsvåg 

Dag T. Straumsvåg was born in 1964 and grew up on the west coast of Norway. He is the author and translator of four books of poetry, most recently The Lure-Maker from Posio (Red Dragonfly Press, 2011), translated by Robert Hedin and Louis Jenkins. A selection of his poems is included in Robert Hedin: At the Great Door of Morning—Selected Poems and Translations (Copper Canyon Press, 2017). His poems have appeared in numerous journals in Norway and North America. He lives in Trondheim.

A poem by  Dag T. Straumsvåg 
Video: Motionpoems



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