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Thursday, January 29, 2015

New Release: Wolf Carstens (poetry)/ Janne Karlsson (artwork) ONLY THE DEAD. Latvia, Svensk Apache Press, 2015 (36 pages)

This short graphic poetry chapbook aptly sums up Canadian Wolf Carstens' take on existence as represented in his earlier poetry, such as his first major collection crudely mistaken for life.

The chap consists of two sections. The first ironically contrasts the voices of the living with those of the dead. While the living are preoccupied with trivial everyday concerns, the dead show gratitude for every experience & celebrate life “above blades of grass.”

The second section is a direct appeal to the reader to wake up to themselves & to realize we are here only for a short time & to live life to the fullest. It consists of Carstens' essential aphorisms- life is too short to waste, be ruthless in your pursuit of happiness and the like.

(reprinted with permission of the artist)

The Swedish artist Janne Karlsson has been collaborating with Carstens for a few projects now and their words & images excellently complement each other in this collection. Carstens' language is raw & didactic, Karlsson's illustrations are quaint in a transformative, highly symbolist way. Karlsson's best panels of drawings appear in the latter part of the chapbook. As in the 'Life is...' illustration above, he represents & intensifies for the reader a core Carstens' idea (that life should not be wasted) through a variety of ironic cut & pasted perspectives.

Despite its low $7 price tag this is a quality book. The cover has a smooth tactile feel to it and the illustrations & text are sharp and well positioned on the page.

To get your hands on a copy of ONLY THE DEAD follow these links: 
Janne Karlsson’s webpage: