[Mersal's] emotional tenor is stormy but temperate. She tells of embarrassment, envy, and regret. She fans out a full spectrum of delicate expressions for curiosity, ironic detachment, and doubt. Irruptions of the surreal and absurd occur, but they don’t break the world apart ... [A] ravishing new collection ... Mersal’s poems read like short stories; they are spare but resonant, full of charming misfits, and governed by chance ... To read through...The Threshold...is to experience the playful and serious mischief of how Mersal blurs, muddies, and obliterates the boundaries between imagination and argument, fiction and nonfiction, bracing formalism and layers of context ... Mersal constantly shifts back and forth. All her verse is characterized by pivots, where a line suddenly turns on a word, image, or passage, then plunges deeper into her subject. This happens most dazzlingly in the eponymous poem.
[A] quality of whispering, of slipping through, inhabits Iman Mersal’s angular The Threshold, a collection of poetry translated delicately by Robyn Creswell ... Mersal’s work is unafraid of its own promontories and edges. Often, the writing advances a crepuscular view of the self, ever-partial and shrouded in semi-obscurity, divided from its figurations ... Vacillating between the abstract and the resolutely material, scissoring the poetic plane, might be a signature of Mersal’s mercurial style ... Fugitive turns and inflections and trailings-off, preserved so scrupulously in this translation, seem to catch the words red-handed at their own game.
Mersal is interested above all in what is lost when one accepts the responsibilities of estrangement or homemaking ... Disenchantment, disillusionment: to be genuine, every form of being at a loss requires that one believe something can still be found and cherished.