Carolina Pihelgas, Pimeduse pisiasjad (Details of Darkness)
Kaksikhammas, 2017, 84 pp
ISBN 9789949999101

Carolina Pihelgas’s fifth poetry collection Details of Darkness (Pimeduse pisiasjad) is, to use the poet’s own words: “Color that bleeds, across borders, unexpectedly” (p. 74). Her thoughts bleed across the borders of verse (or have been shaped into prose poems) by way of transitions, at the same time as a device or subject developed in one poem continues to seek a way forward in another.

On the one hand, Details of Darkness’s lyrical voice is angst-ridden and powerless against the unpredictable whims of inner gloom: “Night is dark like intestines carefully concealed / by clothes and skin, asking permission for nothing, one can only guess / what it’s capable of. How many square meters of darkness / it hides.” (p. 47). A person is defenseless against shards of memory and emotion that may reveal themselves at any moment. On the other hand, the limits of the mundane world are a strain, one in which a person’s name, flesh, and identity are a drill that unjustly forces our perpetually changing and flowing being into a mold (“Is it more important to know name than being?” p. 24).

The field lines of Details of Darkness are clearly rooted in Pihelgas’s earlier poetry collections, which possess a clear wish to be liberated of name, memory, and identity, as well as a marveling and awed gaze upon nature. Yet, this wish has swelled into strain in her latest collection, while nature has become more shadowy and even threatening.

Pihelgas’s collection shares traits with Joanna Ellmann’s post-apocalyptic poetry in terms of atmosphere and aesthetics. Dominant here is gothic, dusky, and damp nature that slowly but surely consumes the individual: moss envelops the bodies and birds nest in their eye sockets. The setting for almost all of the poems is night, and often a state of insomnia. Pictures of a home environment viewed through a blackish-gray, blurred gaze are used in the book design. At the same time, Pihelgas does not adhere to this style with dogmatic persistence, because it appears more important to capture in emotionally precise words its deeply intimate and dreamlike inner world. It’s worth noting that Pihelgas’s poetry enters into a dialogue with Hasso Krull’s latest collection We Carried the Ladder with Us (Kandsime redelit kaasas) through common devices, although the devices live a completely different life in Krull’s poems.


Maarja Helena Meriste (1992) is a literary critic, editor, and is pursuing a master’s in literature at the University of Tartu. In 2017, Meriste received the youth
literary magazine Värske Rõhk’s annual award for literary review.