This is the first "selected poems" by Claes Andersson to appear in English. Drawn from his 18 collections published in Finland, they are generally short (less than one page) poems without titles. As the Introduction notes, Andersson's early poetry features blunt language, while his later work strives for more musicality. Drawing on his psychiatric experience, Anderson uses "private life as a foundation for an investigation of all that shapes our identity."

Friendship is a frequent theme in these poems, as in "Philemon and Baukis": "If you become a fir / I'll be a birch/ Thus you protect and warm me / through the cold seasons / In return I'll dance for you / in the summer nights . . . " (p. 75) One of the most striking poems in the collection is "the new theology," which begins: "Disease is the conscience of the body / What would we be without our ailments . . . " (p. 112)


Andersson's poetry combines realistic detail, gnomic utterance, psychiatric dream work, and infectious humor. A versatile writer, he has also worked in the performing arts and served as a member of the Finnish parliament, in addition to practicing psychiatry. He looks upon his poems as a form of "language research," in which he tries to explore the eccentricities of the human condition.


Introduction by Bror Rönholm. Translated from the Finnish by Lennart and Sonja Bruce.


Bonne Chance

Place Published

Cleveland, S.C.



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