Which matters more when reading a book of poems: the meaning you take from it or the experience you have when reading it?
In Adam Robinson's review of Ordinary Sun, he shares his mother's questions upon reading the book, confronting the difficulty some readers have when they cannot pinpoint a concrete meaning. Robinson asks "how can one say a thing that cannot be said?"--how do we interpret language beyond just gleaning information--and ultimately determines that, for Ordinary Sun, at least,
"[e]ternity within temporality doesn’t make a lick of sense within the framework we’ve constructed for sense-making, but that’s the name of the game for poetry; life is bigger than sense. Accordingly, there is a metaphysics in the weave of Ordinary Sun that indicates something behind our precarious notion of communicating ideas."
Johannes Görannson (translator of With Deer) posted a response to this review on his blog, where he argues that
"[t]he 'difficulty' of Henrikson’s poetry is not about access but the experience it aims to put the reader/writer through. It’s not about some cavalier stroll through poetry’s garden (picking up a bee box to listen to before putting it down, going swimming in/fucking Emily Dickinson/her poems) as in Collins, but an idea of poetry as spiritual violence that breaks us apart..."
Check out both of these compelling reviews and then head to the comments section, where you can add to the discussion yourself.
Consider giving the gift of Ordinary Sun on Mother's day--and see what conversation results!