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Violent Contingencies

Violent Contingencies

Purge, by Sofi Oksanen
Purge, by Sofi Oksanen

I’m a bit more than half way through Sofi Oksanen’s extraordinary novel, Purge, and wanted to jot down a few impressions before doing a complete review later. Ms. Oksanen is a young Finnish-Estonian writer, born in 1977. Purge is her third novel, and grew out of her original play of the same title (“Puhdistus”). Deceptively simple in style and structure, it’s a wonderful example of the power that art has to make us see the universal in the particular. In the details of family life, in the interaction between sisters, in the struggles of one small town, we see the wild swings of history. We see the violent shifts in power alignments. A family drama points us to the drama of time and the chaotic march of humanity.

So far, the book has concentrated primarily on the 30s, 40s, and early 90s. An Estonia ravaged by West and East. Minds ravaged by fateful decisions made generations ago. Oksanen writes with an old soul and directness about a way of life that is quickly disappearing from the planet. Her characters make their own soap, grow most of their own food, can everything in sight, and do this while the world around them is falling apart.

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On our Front Page, we’ve added new poetry by Alan Britt: Love Poem That Leads me
To a Florida Canal.

 

 

The Cantinas of Summer: Poetry by Alan Britt

The Cantinas of Summer: Poetry by Alan Britt

 

LOVE POEM THAT LEADS ME
TO A FLORIDA CANAL


The bandoneon transports me
to your lips
relaxed as they are
like orchids
on a late summer trellis.

Orchids climbing the trellis
of your throat.

Orchids like verbs
struggling
with existence.

Orchids
like lovers
from the grave,
as lovers
often appear
from graves.

Beautiful.

Impossible to resist
in their splendor
of Spanish moss
with night herons
perched on giant oak shoulders
circling the moon’s silver waist.

Oak moon.

My moon,
tumbled dry
so many times
that wisdom
separated
itself
from young poets
who occasionally slip
from their conscious minds.

A caballero strikes a match
in a Juarez cantina;
older women
sway;
young girls flock like minnows
beneath a swollen crust of bread
floating on a Florida canal.

 

— by Alan Britt

 

 

 

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Alan Britt’s recent books are Hurricane (2010), Vegetable Love (2009), Vermilion (2006), Infinite Days (2003), Amnesia Tango (1998) and Bodies of Lightning (1995). Britt’s work also appears in the new anthologies, American Poets Against the War, Metropolitan Arts Press, 2009 and Vapor transatlántico (Transatlantic Steamer), a bi-lingual anthology of Latin American and North American poets, Hofstra University Press/Fondo de Cultura Económica de Mexico/Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos de Peru, 2008.

 

Politically speaking Alan has started the Commonsense Party, which ironically to some sounds radical. He believes the US should stop invading other countries to relieve them of their natural resources including tin, copper, bananas, diamonds and oil. He is quite fond of animals both wild and domestic and supports prosecuting animal abusers to the fullest extent of the law and then some. As a member of PETA, he is disgusted by factory farming and decorative fur. Alan currently teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University and lives in Reisterstown, Maryland with his wife, daughter, two Bouviers des Flandres, one Bichon Frise and two formerly feral cats.

Copyright © 2010 by Alan Britt. All Rights Reserved.