Eva-Stina Byggmästar

Eva-Stina Byggmästar

Eva-Stina Byggmästar

Alexandra Harald
Eva-Stina Byggmästar: Vill du kyssa en rebell? Poetry collection, Schildts & Söderströms, 2023. Nominated for the 2024 Nordic Council Literature Prize.



The poetry collection Vill du kyssa en rebell? (in English: “Do you want to kiss a rebel?”) by Eva-Stina Byggmästar (born in 1967) is both opulent and defiant. She portrays a happy and absorbing love in a work almost devoid of worry and dark sides. The rebel is one who uncompromisingly rejects sense and measure in their love. The project succeeds – its result being enthusiastic, radical love poetry – precisely due to Byggmästar’s doubt. The tension that the poem requires does not grow out of the love relationship it describes but out of the expectations of how it should be portrayed. While the poet knows that she exposes herself to criticism, she confronts it by writing as she does, without a sidewise glance.  


The beloved becomes the whole world – the objects of comparison are not limited to the usual suspects, such as the sun and the wind, but also include the likes of a blue mussel and a concert hall with a forgotten red umbrella in the cloakroom. And the beloved ones themselves can also appear as a child, as an octopus. And so the love relationship grows, and despite the book’s intensive duality, it comes to encompass the entire conceivable world, in which the lovers move in feelings, thoughts, and actions. 


By way of example, in the Swedish, we can take an excerpt from the poem “Svetslågan” – “om mer än det lilla men vilda/ ordet poesi”, “svetslågan – det våldsamma/ ljuset i din kontur som etsade/ sig fast”. 


Although many of the poems are duplicitous declarations of love, the language in Vill du kyssa en rebell? is more reserved than in many of Byggmästar’s other books. The new order, the naive, and wordplay are less frequent here. The world that surrounds the lovers is neither exotic nor magical – if there’s no passion now, there never will be. It is, rather, made up of concrete and recognisable elements. This is necessary for this emotional pressure cooker of a book not to blow up. Behind the exuberant excesses and jubilations, Byggmästar demonstrates absolute control of the linguistic means she employs. 


Vill du kyssa en rebell? is Eva-Stina Byggmästar’s twenty-fifth poetry collection. She made her debut in 1986 and has been awarded a raft of prizes in Finland and Sweden, including the Swedish Academy’s Bellman Prize in 2018 and the Karl Vennberg Prize awarded by Samfundet De Nio in 2009.