A bit of a warning first: this superb collection of 72 poems is not for the casual reader. Many of the poems many are loaded with esoteric allusions, and the poet loves arcane terms and pulls no punches. To fully understand the first poem, “Bloch,” for example, requires a more-than-passing knowledge of the German Marxist philosopher, Ernst Bloch, who was hounded out of Germany by the Nazis. I didn’t, but I was still drawn in and rewarded by the poem’s surreal images and beautiful rhythm–“Birds circling above the ice-strewn seas/Solace from dread: that darkness will be healed.” Not all of them are equally difficult to crack: The Racquetball Players” is a pitch-perfect evocation of that game’s thrill and strategy. “We act the sleek hawk world in flight. The kill/ Trajectory. Concentration. Stalk and grip.” There is humor too, though with an edge and a recoil toward the abyss. “The Interpretation of Dreams” is a ludicrous list of famous anti-semites spanning ten terrifying quatrains in tetrameter that runs from Eliot through Walt Disney and ends by rhyming Ernst Rohm with Shalom. There is a strain of nihilism in many of these poems that is cold eyed and bracing — a vision of history that leads away from consolation. But what draws me back to these poems (and why I keep this on my nightstand next to a volume by Tomas Transtromer) are the frequent moments when rhythm and images fuse together on a dream-level and glow.
Click the 5-Star Award to Read the Review, and the Book to Order Now from Amazon.
Frank J. Edwards Interviewed:
Read the recent URMC interview with Frank J. Edwards online!