Holm, Bill. Playing the Black Piano. Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2004. 132 pgs.
(No puffins because I don't rate poetry. I enjoy it, but I'm not a critic.)
Holm fans can rejoice in this book of poetry that plays familiar themes, in new ways. Bill's refreshing anarchy and warm humanity fill this lovely book, and his humor is compassionate, scathing, ever changing.
Music, a central part in Holm's life, flows through many of these poems. Another theme that looms large is death. Death may be final, but friendship doesn't end with death in Holm's world; a number of these poems pay homage to people he has loved. When Bill knows from his friend's handwriting that death is approaching, I recall how my Mother's handwriting betrayed the same message; one that I was not yet able to read.
For you lovers of Iceland, there is Part I: A Bowl of Thought. This section weaves in Skagafjord, Sauðárkrókur, Hofsós, and Holm's beloved cottage in Hofsós, Brimnes--all by means of evocative poetry.
If you love poetry, music, or Iceland...you'll love Playing the Black Piano. Bill, my debt to you keeps getting heavier.