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Waitress in Fall: Selected Poems by Kristín Ómarsdóttir, transl. by Vala Thorodds

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For over three decades, the work of Kristín Ómarsdóttir has thrived in the vanguard of Icelandic literature. Waitress in Fall offers anglophone readers the first substantial selection of her poems in translation. Spanning thirty years and seven collections – from her first to her latest – this wide-reaching introduction celebrates a vital voice in contemporary European poetry.

Kristín Ómarsdóttir’s work resists the sweet, the neat or the certain. Her poems delight in the lush mess of actual life, in its hands and fingers, lemons and clocks, socks, soldiers, snow, knives, mothers, nightstands, sweat, and crockery. The domestic is at the heart of the poems, but it is a domesticity tinged with threat: something ‘clear and ominous’ persists between the lines.

These are surreal, unsettling landscapes, in which children lap milk from trees and car tyres are ‘soft as skin’. But Kristín’s poems are also full of laughter, sex, and love. They accept vulnerability as a condition of intimacy. Erupting ‘wherever thirst is ignited’, they are not afraid to strike, to rage, recognising a right – a responsibility – to risk the necessary word, even to ‘wound the language’.

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