Dark Matter by Aase Berg
Black Ocean, 2013; 180 pp
Reviewed by Rebecca Ligon


Aase Berg’s Dark Matter is reminiscent of a dream that leaves you gasping for air when you wake. From the very beginning – with the haunting observation, “The darkness of matter is bottomless,” – Berg’s prose presents the reader with a relentless narrative that does not seek to comfort; rather, it seeks to create something from nothing, like a creature dragging itself from the darkness. Despite having been translated by Johannes Göransson from its original Swedish, Berg’s poetry remains fiercely intelligent, and it ripples with power. Each word contributes to the world Berg creates, a landscape populated by “shimmering blue” lemurs, lizards that glitter, and orchids “of flower meal, peonies of meat.” Dark Matter is especially resonant because of Berg’s ability to combine seemingly disconnected words so that they mean something entirely new. These poems may leave some readers distant and cold, while others may revel in this collection’s distorted dystopia. Regardless, Dark Matter is a modern epic that reaches up from the depths of that ever-shifting, bottomless dark.