CHILDLIKE LANGUAGE SOMERSAULTS
Eva-Stina Byggmästar (b. 1967) is an award-winning poet and a visual artist. She comes from the Swedish-speaking Ostrobothnia in Finland but currently lives in Sweden.
Typography plays a key role in Byggmästar\'s poetry. The words may jump to the reader\'s face in big letters, or they can be dropped in front of the reader one by one, so that the empty white space gains emphasis. She constructs surprising combinations of words leaving room for the reader\'s insights. A telling example of a collection that experiments on typography is För upp en svan (Erect a Swan, 1992).
Byggmästar was quite young when she made her debut. She published her first collection I glasskärvornas rike (In the Kingdom of Glass Splinters) in 1986, the year when she graduated from upper-secondary school. It was followed by Amuletten (Amulet, 1987), which mostly takes the form of a monologue. Thematically dark, Amulet portrays estrangement and the feeling of being an outsider. The two subsequent collections, Spiralens form (Form of the Spiral, 1998) and Drivkrafter (Motivations, 1990), however, differ from their predecessors: the mode of loneliness is left behind and the general tone becomes lighter.
Throughout her writing, Byggmästar has debated the question of the construction of identity, how to exist alone and in relation to others. This involves also the dynamics of gender and the essence of being a human. Byggmästar writes in her collection Den harhjärtade människan (The Hare-hearted Human, 2001): \"I\'m not a human being / that is something I became afterwards\". The collection places the human being in the middle of others, and not just other people, but also animals, trees, rocks and plants.
Byggmästar draws on strong symbolism, moving freely from one symbol to another. She links the grave to the light, the light to the grave, Christ to a rabbit. One might also discern religious dimensions in her poetry.
Byggmästar uses personification and a child’s perspective in many of her poems. Sincere wonder at the face of things generates joy and ease. Many poems arise from childhood, from the realm of the fabulous. However, her collection, The Hare-hearted Human (2001), crosses over to the naïve only occasionally. Melancholy repeatedly overtakes the child-like. It has even been said that the collection is so pessimistic that it is hard to read.
Since the beginning of her career, Byggmästar\'s writing has been closer to Swedish than Finnish poetry. It has been claimed that among the Swedish writers Katarina Frostenson comes closest to Byggmästar, whereas Gunnar Björling and Tomas Mikael Bäck out of the Swedish-speaking poets of Finland can be seen as Byggmästar\'s kindred souls.
Eva-Stina Byggmästar\'s collections: I glasskärvornas rike (In the Kingdom of Glass Splinters, 1986), Amuletten (Amulet, 1987), Spiralens form (Form of the Spiral, 1988), Drivkrafter (Motivations, 1990), För upp en svan (Erect A Swan, 1992), Framåt i blått (Forward in Blue, 1994), Bo under ko (To Live Under a Cow, 1997), Den harhjärtade människan (The Hare-hearted Human, 2001), Näckrosön (2003), Knoppar, blommor, blad och grenar (2005), Älvdrottningen (2006).
translated by Sarka Hantula