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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Book Recommendation: Henry Denander The Loulaki Bar & other poems from Hydra. Miskwabik Press, Calumet, Michigan, 2009 (68 pages).

I have read most of Denander’s poetry and this is probably my favourite collection because it combines his poetry with his beautiful watercolour sketches. The Swedish writer and painter lives in Stockholm but has spent the last dozen or so summers on the Greek Island of Hydra.
The title poem ‘The Loulaki Bar’ recalls an incident in 1988 when Leonard Cohen was in the small Hydra bar sitting with his girlfriend at the next table.

The poetry is largely anecdotal and centred on Denander’s every day experiences on the island: obtaining a post office box with the help of a friend, his wife’s fascination with insecticides, his reflections on Greek priests & on a sleeping man while waiting to catch a ferry in Hydra, how his neighbour Barba Yannis helps him with his garden, how his family is befriending the neighbouring cats, his dealings with the local tradesmen, his thoughts on retirement and the like. The writing is simple, minimalistic, self-deprecatory & creates a vibrant sense of what it is like for Denander to live with his family & friends within the Hydra community.

In the Foreword, the great American poet Gerald Locklin presciently writes, “I now consider any product of his creativity in any form to qualify as an instant collector’s item. In terms of The Loulaki Bar this is certain as the collection appears to be now out of print.


Comments on Henry Denander’s site:

Poet Hound includes the poems ‘Cipporo’, ‘The Flood’ and ‘Basic Philosophy’ from the collection here: