A Flower Whose Name I Do Not Know
“When I was a boy the neighbor/ across the street built a bomb shelter.” Romtvedt’s work is at once personal and political, an awkward mix for most poets, but he manages to come down on issues and still keep himself and his experiences at the center of the poem. Besides the bomb, he addresses such contemporary topics as a “peace blockade,” a nuclear accident in the Ukraine, and a Trident submarine jockeying for position in the Straits of Juan de Fuca near Bangor, Washington: “The air is the same air/ I breathed in Paradise/ and Buchenwald.” Romtvedt travels from Hiroshima to Guatemala, from Zaire and Rwanda to Arkansas, collecting people and their stories. He is Everyman (and woman): His poems make it easy to recognize our common stake in world affairs. Highly recommended for anyone who reads poetry seriously.