Review: Island mountain glacier by Anne Vegter (translation by Astrid Alben)


At Osmosis, our reviewers are encouraged to respond to and review work creatively. The only formal limitation is a word count guide of 250 words. Short, sweet and with a little bite. We see reviews as a chance to converse, whether that’s about form, creative practice, ideas or language. Interested in reviewing with us? Contact our Reviews Editor, Jayd Green.


Island mountain glacier by Anne Vegter, translation by Astrid Alben. Available here. Published by Prototype.


The first encounter with a book is often its cover, but carrying that dynamic into the work is less common. The tentative lines of the drawings used on Island Mountain Glacier by Anne Vegter and translated here by Astrid Alben have a fragile quality that reflects the intimacy of the subject matter: the naked human body. Aesthetic beauty is neither the focus of the resistant quality of the drawn line nor evident in the portrayal of the human form.  It is apparent here and in the first pages of the book, where the drawing continues, that the sexual organs are prominent but their idealization is allowed to be raw rather than refined.

This rawness carries over into the language we encounter, the caustic quality of the word ‘Tramps’ and the first two pages establish a speaking voice that is exposed to the reader in that fragility. The drawn line perfectly exhibits tentative exposure, both male and female, the reader defenceless against the immediacy of both language and image. The structure of these lines betrays expectation, they resolve themselves in unusual ways. They deliver cynical and satirical and comedic quips alongside discomfiting,taboo encounters in concise moments that trail after the reading mind to alter its perception even as it moves on. It’s not the individual moments, though, but the combination within a certain gravitas, the glow of white flowers in shadows. I could write a short essay on only the first few lines and the movement therein, but I’ll finish by saying that to choose words in English that maintain this status of both subtle and emphatic shifting is a small magic in itself.

‘give me back my stalemates, my singular days, my intact membranes’


You treat a poem as you would never treat a child. 

Keep it ignorant, so it does things it should not, shows its body without shame.

You can purposefully fail to teach it about salt so when it tastes it for the first time at your conniving, the shock and indignation is an incomparable joy, rare and pure. It’s only comparison: the ferrous tang of blood which all text knows.

Like a taste of sweat on the body, sowed into the ground, on the rim of a glass. 

After a diet of only sugar the sudden appearance of salinity into the written world, where the grains do not stick but dessicate, offers an insight into innocence and the chaotic ramifications of intimacy.  

Stripping away down to your Birthday suit.

Who’s gonna love you when your looks are gone?

A line both listless and furtive, searching and obscuring. 

More paper than anything else, like verse, gaps to be filled, breaths between actions, reveries, moments lost to the sudden unexpected idea of a thing.

Who can resist that urge?

The missing. 

A thread just long enough to hold some meaning.

Passing, playing Russian roulette with entropy.

Will the thrill still remain in this line? 

The putting of things into other things, we do like to insert them, knives, body parts, probes, both micro or macro in scale, thoughts, nothing that can be intruded upon will be spared, a key belongs in a lock, if you have been inducted into the mystery of locks.

The thread remains and the blood courses through the line, the ink ejects it oily scrawl and chooses neither chaos nor entropy. 


Aodán is a painter, poet, ex:gardener/tattooist, he has delivered babies warm in the dark
and wrapped the dead in white hospital cotton. He is a co-editor at Veer Books. His PhD is
on Action as Articulation of the Contemporary Poem though physicality and doubt are the
site of meaning and the stance respectively where the action operates. His way into
collaboration was as part of London Under Construction LUC and of Cuisli. His current
practice is improvised performance/writing/drawing as a finding out. He grew up in the
mountains, moved to the city, lives by the sea. Twitter: @redochre1 and Instragram: @redochretattoo

Iain Rayner is an artist who works in mixed media with a recent focus on the interaction of text and object. Iain received a BA in Fine Art Painting from Winchester School of Art and an MA in Fine Art from UCA. Iain’s recent academic work was focused on Critical Reading and Speech Acts in Contemporary Art. Iain’s current artistic practice has been concerned with false narratives and misguided intentionality. Instagram: @rayneriain


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