Artwork by Deborah Hake Brinckerhoff
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She-Giant in the
Land of Here-We-Go-Again
Kristina Bicher writes delicate/brittle, tender/brutal, transparent/opaque lyrics all at once. We move, page-to-page, from a hardened Icelandic terrain and abandoned human heart to Arizona desert and emotional heat. The thermostatic range of these poems is immense. Bicher is a master time shifter bringing us from the mythic to contemporary poem-to-poem. The speakers in the poems are at once unhinged and deeply grounded. These are such complicated (a good word), dynamic, and compelling poems that are wonderfully navigable. A fully-realized book, start to finish.
Bicher’s language is full and ripe in this collection of poems that feel plucked from another time, and melded seamlessly with the present. There is an evanescent, fleeting, fantastical precision in her sword-wielding lines, like “This is how you break the children— / This is how you sever the husband— // with ice and flame” that get you right in the gut. She-Giant in the Land of Here-We-Go-Again is dazzling and earnest, and has a fierce heart at its center.
In She-Giant in the Land of Here-We-Go-Again, Kristina Andersson Bicher has carved a book of beautifully mysterious, spare mythologies where “fathers chop their way into brightness” and mothers “will eat their own moss.” In the villages and cities of these poems, widows, wives, brothers, mothers, husbands and sons refuse to behave predictably; instead they churn and tumble. Bicher’s poems shape an uncanny relationship with Time, bending this way and that in poems that speak with urgency that “I might not make it back from the future” while acknowledging, “All over the past we walk without thinking.” This is a mature debut, one I welcome and celebrate.
Surrealism, vivid imagery, and spare language draw on tradition to forge a new species of contemporary fairy tale in these poems about love and its demise, family, and identity. Bicher’s language is brilliantly spare, and her images are precisely and vividly cut, but pain is the whetstone that hones her lines to their keen, sometimes near-lethal edge. I especially appreciate the attention to sound and music in these poems, as well as their innovative uses of form, as in the surprising list in “How to Get Out of a 20-year Hole” and the series of questions in “The Woodcutter’s Wife.” A remarkable book!
I walk around gathering up my garden for the night, a poetry collection by Marie Lundquist, translated by Kristina Andersson Bicher, will be published in a bilingual Swedish/English edition by Bitter Oleander Press in the fall of 2020. Stay tuned for updates.
Artwork by Kurt Bicher
Just Now Alive
(FLP, New Women's Voices Series, 2014)
"[W]ho among us / would claim / that it’s safe /to come out?" asks the world of Just Now Alive. It's a placid world that can suddenly reveal itself to be death-plagued, a place where those who live quietly are unexpectedly prey to what "rips [them] slowly / out of this world." The poet contemplates all with careful, elegant observation, which yields realizations of wisdom and grace. This collection disquiets and comforts with its spare apprehensions and its solid grounding in the lived life of small intimacies.
–Kathleen Ossip (The Do-Over, The Cold War, Cinephrastics and The Search Engine)
"In relaxed colloquial tones the poems in Just Now Alive pull you in with a mixture of memorable images and wide-eyed wonder along with a mature personable embrace. The narratives are always grounded in rhythms that are controlled as they encounter and explore the poet's own personal universe that is familiar to us all and universal in scope. Here are poems of loss, birth and celebration. Kristina Bicher's collection offers a unique perspective on what it truly means to be human."
–Kevin Pilkington (Summer Shares, Spare Change and Ready to Eat the Sky)
"The poems in Kristina Bicher’s debut collection, Just Now Alive, are, ultimately, life- affirming songs in the face of both small and large tragedies. In the poem, “We Live Here,” the speaker admits, “So much bad news / so much malignancy…Maybe we should all/ be soldiers once/ to practice dying /hard.” What unites these poems is a voice of quiet self-assurance, attention to detail, and empathy. When she imagines the moments before a tragic car accident she writes, “I would like to think they were singing…” Bicher’s poems show us how to appreciate the moments of joy when we are compelled to break out in song."
–Jennifer Franklin, (No Small Gift, Looming and Persephone’s Ransom )