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This review is taken from PN Review 163, Volume 31 Number 5, May - June 2005.

FILLING THE SAIL JAAN KAPLINSKI, Evening Brings Everything Back, translated by Jaan Kaplinski and Fiona Sampson (Bloodaxe) £8.95

I first came across Jaan Kaplinski at a reading a few years ago at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. I remember then how he stood out from the rest of those who stepped up to the podium that day, and how a sense of relief tinged with eagerness seemed to quiver through the audience. Inevitably, the little pile of his book Through the Forest was then ransacked by eager hands, one of which was mine. What I sensed then and even more so now, with this welcome new offering of three collections in one from Bloodaxe, was the equanimity and utter lack of pretence in this poet's work, as well as its depth of humanity and rather refreshing aversion to self-assertion. His deceptively simple style, a subtle threading of domestic and ecological observation with existential preoccupations sometimes left deliberately vague, has tremendous power. But this power is patient and unhurried. It often builds towards the end of a poem, as the breezes of those micro tales of his beloved insects, stones, and trees gradually fill the sail of the poem. Movement finally occurs as the reader connects the veins running between these simple reflections and the poet's wider dialogue with mankind's place within this universe. Kaplinski will often combine an event or thought of some kind in the external world, i.e. the world beyond his rural haven, with a seemingly mundane gardening task. For example, in a poem from the collection Summers and Springs, ...


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