Waitress in Fall
Kristín Ómarsdóttir’s prose might already be familiar to some readers through the publication of her eerie novel Children in Reindeer Woods by US publisher Open Letter Books some years ago. With the publication of this selection of her poetry, the oeuvre of one of Iceland’s foremost contemporary poets is at long last available to the English-speaking world.
Editor and translator Vala Thorodds has provided a selection that spans Kristín’s 30-year career as a poet, and her choices unveil themes and aspects of Kristín’s work that have remained consistent throughout her seven collections of poetry. For a book that covers such a long period of work, the selection presents a strangely unified whole, building from Kristín’s earliest poems to her 2019 collection Spiders in Display Windows – which earned her nominations for both the Icelandic Literature Prize and the Nordic Council Literature Prize. Filled with surreal landscapes stockpiled from the scraps of modern life, her poetry is bound up with feminine physicality, sex and womanhood but also with dark humour and the domestic stupor of the everyday.
Throughout, Kristín’s voice is utterly her own; fearless yet frail and tender, presenting lines that trip into one another, travelling from joy into despair and back again with only the barest fluctuation of tone and meaning.