Picture World is the first complete book by the Danish poet Niels Frank to be published in English. By turns funny and serious, ironic and sincere, droll and sly, conversational and playfully inventive, it draws the reader into a set of contemplations that grows more and more complex as its elements recur, reinforcing and undercutting one another, casting light but also doubt. As a poetic sequence in twenty-four parts, this is a work of high ambition. Its signal achievement is to use an accessible voice to present a deeply nuanced composition.
As the title suggests, pictures play a special role. Visual images not only serve as metaphors and similes, but appear in the form of photographs described in the poems. Reviewing photos taken during travel and sojourns abroad, the speaker feels moved to offer both narratives and thoughts that the pictures inspire. In each poem the photos are grouped according to the motifs in them—windows, road signs, sunlight, etc.—and the speaker describes these photos for another person, who is unfamiliar with the motifs and their stories. Only at the end of the book does the reader understand who this other person is and realize the nature of the speaker’s connection to his listener.