Kiss of the Viking
October 2014. 36 pp. ISBN-13 978-3-901993-47-3 (= PSPS 12)
"The world of Scandi Noir detective thrillers forms the backdrop to Kiss of the Viking, blending the familiarand quotidian with the bizarre, quirky, and edgy. Julie Maclean is not afraid to address the stereotypes - Ikea,polar bears, the Little Mermaid - along with more personal preoccupations, such as a fascination with the underbelly ofNordic myths and with graveyards, and she brings to them a characteristic versatility of style and delight in language."
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Table of Contents
Excerpts from Kiss of the Viking
Mermaid Has Landed
Words she wrenched from rusting
cogs through clenched teeth.
I never saw her smile.
Afraid, as if the North Atlantic
would gush from her mouth in a spray
of sild, salmon and small prawns.
Fin-bound, she walked
with spatty shoes, Japanesque,
a mincy step. Then she cried.
I caught her glancing at pearl earrings
in a shop window, hoping nobody saw.
Her nose ring of pink coral
sticks the boy dipping in for a kiss.
Lost loves. They come to her in watery
dreams, etched faces, bruising.
A seahorse has a rigid spine. The way
she moved without moving, her tail
flicked spikes in our eyes.
In Search of Noir
Clark Kent in thin black frames,
smooth as blonde wood,
pale as a white-washed wall
charms the girls boys too
Seems tired as he speaks
of Nordic crime ...
more blood more guts
more rapes more scalps
more sticks up arses
snuff stuff burning at stakes
serial death more girly bait
in soft focus hand-held camera
thinking ... Not more wannabes
get off the slush pile
out of this shit hole
smell a gum tree
Reviews of Kiss of the Viking
"There is no law that says travellers have to be impressed with the countries they encounter [...]. The reality nevercorresponds to the images Maclean has in her head, and while the disparity is occasionally a source of discontent,the incongruity it creates provides pleasing humour and a refreshing corrective to stock images of the north.A smart, witty collection."
"Maclean addresses the modern-day dark at an angle all her own, which is intriguing. [...] Whatever 'dark' is beingobserved, it's often down with a humorous or wry tinge."
Maclean's Kiss of the Viking takes the reader to Nordic realms with a number of poems referencing thetragic histories of Europe, the Holocaust, a cholera outbreak, and druid sacrifice. [...] Maclean often favours short,crisp lines, without use of articles, giving some poems a clipped tone."
"These poems keep tight control and have an edge sharp and clean as the blades of the wind turbines which appear againand again in these landscapes. Concise and deceptively breezy, the poems employ a scatter-gun effect of imagery and aroaming documentary eye to travel over time as well as place. They touch, examine then move on: the poetry of travelling.[...] Maclean has a good eye for the absurd and the random, noting graffiti or signs, the things people do in public.Some are unflinching and uncomfortable, dealing with the darkness underneath the shining surfaces [...]"
"This confounding of expectation is at once unsettling and yet recognizable - things are rarely as you expect them tobe when travelling to a different country and Maclean captures this brilliantly. The poems also tackle darker material,and offer perspectives on aspects of Scandinavian culture that make for unexpected and even uncomfortable reading. [...]The juxtapositions of compelling images, with lines scored beautifully on the page, ranging from the comedic to starklyserious, sometimes even from line to line, make the poems disarming, and uncanny, as well as quirky and true. [...]Maclean's style is distinctive but she allows each poem to express itself formally in the way that best represents it,making this pamphlet a delight to ponder over and read time and again."
From Cassandra Atherton's Launch Speech
"Julie's poems express a remarkable salute to genius loci. The spirit of the places haunts each of her poems.The brilliance of these poems comes from their Barthesian punctum, an object or image that jumps out at the viewer withina photograph - 'that accident which pricks, bruises me.' Julie's poems are like subversive picture postcards andthere is always something sharp that sticks or wounds."
What Readers Think of Kiss of the Viking
"I love the way you dislocate your reader, juxtaposing images, observations, memories, speculations into apost-modern collage (or kaleidoscope). Most original to me is the way that violence, longing, banality and incomprehensionrub against each other and sometimes collapse centuries into a few lines. The title is perfect because although thiscollection is unsentimentally observed and cleanly expressed ... there is also passion."
Read more about Julie Maclean
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