Cole Swensen

Book Review for Seventeen Summers:

Subterranean Blue Poetry

Volume VII Issue IX


Byline: Subterranean Blue Poetry

Title of Book: Seventeen Summers

Author: Cole Swensen

Publisher: above/ground press

Date of Publication: 2018

Pages: 20

(I hold you close,
under starry skies; the milky way
tries to bring us to the end)
- from The Breathtaking Days (Via Lactea) by Klimt 1918

Seventeen Summers is original lyric poetic prose that tells the story of the famous painter Gustav Klimt through the study of his landscapes and photos, exciting ephrasktic poetry, through the lens of time by Cole Swensen and above/ground press. Cole Swensen is born in California, a Poet, translator, copywriter, editor and teacher. She is much celebrated and has won the Guggenheim Fellowship (2006), 2 Pushcart Prizes amongst others. She has written 17 literary collections of poetry and translates works from the French.

A postcard in time of life, love and the Artist, Gustav Klimt and his constant companion Emilie Floge from the late 1800's to 1917, a travelogue told through Archives information, impressions of historical photos and the landscapes of the Artist. How Klimt's landscapes play on light and texture, soft, the brilliance of flowers and trees that loom as if through a looking glass. A play on moving flowers and water, the weaving of brilliance, light and Summers. The Poet describes the affect as "not contained by the frame", "as if growing" and uses the image of the broken frame throughout the series of poems, an act of destruction and overflowing that celebrates the Artist and his gift of brilliance. Not only does Swensen bring to life the Artist's work, the poetry is also a celebration of history, how he designed dresses for Floge's dress shop, the emancipation of women by not using corsets, how he painted through opera glasses or a telescope, his love of flowers, how he didn't have a telephone and wrote beautiful poetic lines on postcards to Emilie and his family.

Seventeen Summers, describes a painting lost in a fire, gives an idea of the impermanence of things, a haunting, a play on time, how death comes in the night. The entire series of poems has the love affair of Klimt and Emilie Floge in the backdrop, a quiet revelation that is underdeveloped, they were constant companions since the late 1800's, the poetry reflects their love affair in the subtle brilliance of symbols and in the impressions of the grand beauty of the paintings.

A poetic celebration of the life and work of Gustav Klimt, his life and times, a history, a love affair and a celebration of some of the most beautiful art ever created. On a Summer evening of warm rains, a brilliant read. Seventeen Summers by Cole Swensen.

Available at above/ground press.

Subterranean Blue Poetry

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