RaveThe Arts Fuse\"It is always a pleasure to read the poems of a writer who has an ear for language and an eye for form, a voice of their own, and an interest in a world beyond the reach of their own person. I suppose this should be a commonplace expectation for any contemporary poet, but it’s actually a rare combination these days. And so this new collection from Komunyakaa is heartening: it simultaneously satisfies and challenges the reader to move outward ... Each section has its own distinctive character ... The jazz and pop of his lines, the erudition of his references, the breadth of his vision, resonate with echoes of Walt Whitman’s multitudes.
PositiveArtsFuseWithout context, the drift in Roundabout of Death floats the reader along for one hundred fifty pages among devastated people from one devastated café to another in a devastated city in 2012, until the protagonist makes an exploratory trip into ISIS-controlled territory and returns. Weighing on his mind are threats to his family and how he can possibly mitigate if not actually escape them ... Khartash refrains from drawing conclusions: Roundabout of Death is all description, a narrative of process. The translation carries this level tone. There is a flatness, a prosaic plod — witness the punctuation in the sentences quoted above — which may or may not reflect the Arabic language of the original.
Paul Celan, trans. by Pierre Joris
PositiveThe Arts Fuse... a \'collected\' volume of Celan’s poetry brings its own difficulties to the reader. The poems are not meant to be read in large batches, but discretely, one by one, like stones ... Quantity blurs the edges. Still, the bulk is not so heavy as it appears. Bilingually presented on facing pages, the poems in English or German come to fewer than 170 pages each. The 500+ pages of Memory Rose into Threshold Speech are particularly valuable for the accompanying apparatus: notes and bibliographies, taking up nearly half the whole. The notes engage language issues, explain allusions, and provide helpful cultural context. On the other hand, a comprehensive edition lets the reader see the sweep and growth of Celan’s voice ...
Maria Stepanova tr. Sasha Dugdale
PositiveArts FuseIt uses its patchwork of documentary and impressionistic essays to give the reader a unified personality, like Montaigne’s essays in their wide-ranging and inward-looking sensibility ... it is the process and workings of remembering, and the loss of memories and the meaning of memory, that dominate, that draw the reader into and through Stepanova’s argument and interpretations from beginning to end ... Ultimately, for the Russian poet, memory is \'beyond repair,\' but nonetheless valuable in its disjointedness. And the memory of memory In Memory of Memory proves equally valuable in the connections it forges.
PositiveArts FuseMost of the better, stronger, and more interesting poems are those that don’t fit the form, but go their own way. The weaker ones scatter the two-word combinations along one after another in a rocking litany: fatigued thought, bad spots, good things, tall pines, seeing eye, gelid body, viscid slime, wet road, dark stone, long game — we’ve barely got started in the book, and I’ve not included strings of adjectives more than one at a time, or a few that are far more obviously to the point. Enough said ... When Cole is not striving (it seems) to fill out a line or a form, he allows himself a different kind of energy. The longest poem in the book, \'Land of Never-ending Holes,\' perhaps the most powerful in Blizzard, hasn’t a single wasted word ... n Cole’s best poems, as in a successful Frank Lloyd Wright house, the outside and the inside interpenetrate and merge.