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Ruins of the Heart

Ruins of the Heart

Six Longpoems

By Kristjana Gunnars

144 pp

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“The first thing one notices in Kristjana Gunnars’ poetry is the stunning beauty of her lyrical mysticism. That would make the work well worth the read, but these poems do more. Restless, they widen; they take in the world. Moving beyond a search for metaphysical comfort, they confront age and the many faces of colonialism. Dante, in his concern for broken vows, offers the final wisdom: one of incompleteness. Like Kristjana, we will die thirsting for a lover we’ve too fleetingly known. Hopefully, like her, we will die singing.”


poet, author of Easter and At the Bottom of the Year 


“Canadian writer Kristjana Gunnars is a dazzling, accomplished writer of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and essays on aesthetics. Her readers always expect exhilarating density in her vision and her voice. Ruins of the Heart: Six Longpoems delivers both the density and the exhilaration. She evokes Augustine, Dante, Eliot, Borges, Marvell, Lao Tzu, Rumi, as well as contemporary writers like Don McKay, Thomas Merton, Simone Weil, Pierre Michon, Marilynne Robinson, Annie Dillard, Jake Kennedy, Edward Abbey, Patti Smith, and many other like-minded pilgrims.  Gunnars tackles the spiritual and profane mysteries of dailiness, longing and desire, and the paradoxes of love and devotion in this world, now. I am so grateful for her eye on things. This book is a rich and wonderful weave of meditations driven by the insistencies of love and mortality and of the questioning of that love and mortality. As she herself writes, ‘The ordinary is the sacred.’”


author of A Matins Flywheel and Cantilevered Songs


“Kristjana Gunnars’ luminous, profoundly intimate verse is as tender as an open sore and as strong as love. As Keats said of the best poetry, ‘it emboldens the soul to accept mystery,’ for mystery—of life, of the self, of God—invests every line, every letter of her work. What an honor it is to seek passage as her spiritual companion upon this journey.”


author of Sophia in Exile and The Submerged Reality

About the Author

KRISTJANA GUNNARS, originally from Iceland, is a writer and painter residing in British Columbia in Canada. She is Professor Emeritus of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta, Canada and currently serves as Visiting Professor in Languages and Literature at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik, Iceland. She is the author of six previous books of poetry, four chapbooks, two books of short fiction, a book of essays on writing, and many academic articles on literary matters in various scholarly journals and anthologies.

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