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This review is taken from PN Review 171, Volume 33 Number 1, September - October 2006.

IMPROBABLE LANDSCAPES PIOTR SOMMER , Continued, translated by Halina Jodd (Bloodaxe) £8.95

 August Kleinzahler’s short introduction to Continued, Piotr Sommer’s second collection in English with Bloodaxe Books, points out the Polish poet’s attraction to the everyday nature of life – contrasting him against Poland’s more famous twentieth-century poets whose works have focused on politics, philosophy and religion. In this respect Sommer closely resembles his American contemporaries, including specifically Frank O’Hara – whom Kleinzahler links him to directly. Like O’Hara, Sommer’s poems twist and turn in their verbal ingenuity, often arriving at a destination nothing like the one set out for. In this way, casual meetings and moments of daily life become occasions for poems – poems using humour and sentiment in mediated doses to arrive at a surrealistic approach to the everyday and domesticity, without any of the American surrealist school’s more characteristic anthropomorphism or sexuality, as seen in the work of Charles Simic, say. However, Sommer’s poems are distinct from American comparisons in their affinity to the domestic and the family unit. Sons, grandfathers and mothers are frequent companions in his poetic journeys and it is often children who are the most significant characters: ‘I talk about children all the time’, he writes in ‘Another World’, and in ‘Potatoes’ discusses his own son:

 My son won’t write a poem about a coconut.
 I’m running out of words myself.
 Still, if he wanted to paint a picture
 with the texture of a ripe orange,
 then by all means: just let him get hold ...

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