by Bengt O Björklund
Bengt O Björklund left his native Sweden bound for India to seek his hippie dreams in 1968, but ended up in a Turkish prison for possession of a small amount of hashish. A portion of this story was creatively represented in the movie Midnight Express.
During his imprisonment Bengt wrote his first poems and songs and also began painting. After his release he resettled in his homeland and began to paint and write, play music and perform his work.
"Time is a lake fed by the moon."
Well within the tradition and literary scope of experimental language employed by beat poets, Bengt uses what might be described as an avant-garde non-fiction, stream of consciousness in this long poem series.
"I see that you are another me I /
that holy is such a very short time"
Employing a combination of narrative, culturo-generational commentary, and shifts in source perspective, he has created a wide field in which to better paint the scope of impression, sentiment, lament, wisdom, woe and philosophy gleaned from the span of a lifetime.
"Hear! War is not a language"
Instead of the poems in I standing as solitary trees in a field, they more resemble a grove of aspen trees having a complex underground root source from which each individual poem sprouts and grows. What at first seems reminescent of Joyce's Ulysses becomes, through engaged reading, something more closely resembling Gilles Deleuze's concept of a Plane of Immanence.
"There is a final blessing /
it is so human."
Bengt’s poetry and sensitivity touches me now as it did back in Turkish prison in 1970. The character of Erich in my book Midnight Express is partly based upon him [ . . . ] it was Bengt’s smiling soul that helped transform the concrete walls and prison bars . . . his writing is clean, no punctuation, just words and the dreams lingering behind them and when I read: “a dream birthed me in eastern jail austerity” I remember those days and wish my old friend well . . . Inshallah . . .
~ Billy Hayes, author of Midnight Express
Bengt is the author of many books. He writes fluently in both Swedish and English. This is his third poetry collection of his English poetry. In 2017, a short biopic film, My Moon, was made which chronicled his early years and the years he spent in a Turkish prison which served as the impetus for his later creative life. In 2018 the National Beat Poetry Foundation, Inc honored Bengt by naming him Sweden Beat Poet Laureate for his lifetime achievements in poetry.