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#172: GOOD STUFF COOKIES. Ah, yes, speaking of translating that line in Catullus, here is the first verse of Anselm Hollo’s poem “De Amore”:

love i —thou— me-off-pissest

(hopi catullus)

Well, solves that problem. Edward Dorn wrote of Finland, Hollo’s birth country, “It is so pure it treats English like a toy.” That phrase is one of several hundred possible approaches to Hollo’s verse, which floated through the second half of the twentieth century entirely on its own wavelength. It caught some knack for startlement from the Surrealists, but without their awful self-seriousness; from the Beats it took some of their nimble poetics but, perhaps because Hollo was an immigrant, without that enveloping anguish about America. At times I hear the coy quickness of Apollinaire in it—that eyeball-to-eyeball teasing that could turn serious and hint at vast worlds in few words—and even, from a distance, something of the Symbolists. There is an ease with strangeness in it and almost always an inclination to good humor. Born in Finland, resident a few years in England and settling at last in the U.S., Hollo translated extensively from a half-dozen languages into English and into Finnish; he was a busy and friendly conduit for the poetic traffic between Finland, the U.S., and the rest of Europe. Some of his later work, to my taste, thinned out a bit, though all of those chapbooks and small-press pamphlets had scatterings of gems; Sojourner Microcosms: New and Selected Poems 1959-1977 (Blue Wind Press) I think is his best-sustained collection and is still my favorite. The audible sprite of the counterculture is in it, rather like when you walk into a house and smell the faint whiff of weed; but Hollo remained his own man always. To echo the Marx Brothers, whatever it was, he might not be against it, but he certainly had his own ideas about it. And part of the counterculture is durable and still alive in Hollo’s voice in his disregard of the devouring machine by which the dominant culture still sets our schedule and our way of life. It gives the ground of seriousness to his sweet temper and flights of wit and those verses which look so terribly casual: “in high gravity worlds, structures are short and squat. / low gravity worlds are permitted more delicate forms.”

His poem “i.m. Hannes Hollo 1959-1999”:

Fought the hungry ghosts here on Earth

“What is man?” asked the King

Alcuin’s reply: “A guest of space.” And time yes time:

The past lies before us, the future comes up from behind

Walking on Primrose Hill or Isle of Wight beaches

Iowa City streets scrambling up snow-covered deer tracks

To Doc Holliday’s grave in Glenwood Springs

His helmet now shall make a hive for bees

He fought the hungry ghosts here on earth

Strong & resourceful on his best days,

Patient, kind and presente

Returning those with him to here & now

But just as we settle in with our Pepsi and popcorn

THE END rolls up too soon always too soon

And from his 1979 collection With Ruth in Mind:


to hocus the animals of the pursuers

by changing their dream cassettes

(old thibetan trick)

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