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A Child Is Not a Knife:
Selected Poems of Göran Sonnevi
Göran Sonnevi
Translated and edited by Rika Lesser

Winner of the 1993 Translation Prize, American-Scandinavian Foundation

Paperback | 1993 | $31.95 | ($19.17) / £21.95 | (£13.17) | ISBN: 9780691015439
218 pp.
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Göran Sonnevi is one of Sweden's most celebrated, respected, and prolific poets. For this first book-length selection of Sonnevi to appear in English, Rika Lesser has chosen works written between 1971 and 1989--although most of the poems come from the last decade and from Sonnevi's last three books, which form part of the single oändlig [unending/infinite/interminable] poem that he continues to write from book to book. Of Lesser's introduction to the work, Richard Howard writes, "Lesser's wonderful prose texts at the outset provide not only an ingress into complex and baffling matter but one of the most determined statements of the translator's text since Walter Benjamin."

From "Åby, Öland; 1982"

We are here in the ultimate lives of our bodies
negations of the ultimate negation
We are complete parts of the world
We rise up out of infinity
like the limestone flats from the sea Like the stars
We are denials of infinity
One day we shall reach all the way there


"Göran Sonnevi's presence in Swedish poetry of this century is a powerful one. He holds to creatures such as birds and worms and to the patterns of politics with the same passion. He won't turn his eyes away from the delights of sensual married life or the horror of capitalism. At his best, he is a sensuous, ethical poet, a surprising union. Rika Lesser's translations are skillful and true."--Robert Bly

"Through the power of Rika Lesser's brilliant translations, Göran Sonnevi's poetry is shown to be what it is: the work of one of the world's major poets."--Lawrence Joseph

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