An Arab-American who feels strongly about the Palestinian homeland, Metres clearly sees the complexities in the region and reflects them so succinctly and comprehensively in his poems and prose sketches, reflecting the good and bad on both sides.
The villains in this book are written and developed beautifully, typical of Cassandra’s other books. However, I found the growing characters involved in the Cohort – a party dedicated to the control of Downworlders and Shadowhunters opposed to them, to be a very realistic sense of the ‘bad guy’ with themes of war, propaganda and other political concepts often brought to light in Queen of Air and Darkness.
Fire Front is critically important reading – not just for the messages it contains, though they are both timeless and relevant to the world we’re living in right now, but also because this is work that is fresh, urgent, astonishing, beautiful, and heart-rendering and have the power that Whittaker talks about in her introduction, to change the shape world for the better.
The action moves at a pulse quickening pace, our hero’s journey peppered with witty asides and lively character driven observations. Frank has a special talent for describing rooms from a connoisseur contractor’s POV. It helps that Lutz did some carpentry in his younger days.
On Reflection is a novelty. It is beautiful, delicate and memorable. The collection sweeps along philosophising possibilities, inventing life with breath-taking consciousness. In its own right, it reminds us to remain centred—in a word: read Musgrave.
Pablo Neruda once wrote: “If nothing saves us from death, at least love should save us from life.” In A Long Petal of the Sea, Isabel Allende’s characters are saved from despair by love, friendship and the satisfaction of helping others. Is she suggesting that history repeats itself and that a democracy with social justice and economic equality is an impossible dream? I think not.
Having travelled the distance that Giggs takes us in Fathoms, it seems obvious that there is no choice: “Each of us now sharpens the focus dial on the future of the ocean, of the weather, of the whales and their kin.” Fathoms is a glorious, beautiful and deeply important book.
It is the clever detailing of life on the Island, and of leprosy, that makes this book so very engaging. Three men alone, with only occasional visits, making their own entertainment, caring for one another, knowing that two of them will never escape the Island unless it’s to go to another leper colony… Yet Carmen makes these men and their lives fascinating. There is real love here; gentle, unselfish, sometimes hard-tried love.
You don’t have to be a card carrying poetry lover to fall in love with the poems in this book. I’m planning to put the anthology on my coffee table and look forward to the conversations it sparks with guests. (That is when we are allowed to have guests again. I am writing to you from the heart of social distancing.) Some of these poems turned me on. Some of them made me long to be the person being kissed for the attention and tenderness of it. Some of them made me cry.
This intricate mixture of joy and grief, celebration and fear, is expressed over and over again in these poems. In “Damage,” a poem about her young daughter mistaking the words damn it for damage, the poet reflects, hearing her daughter’s mistake when she stubs her toe or startles when a door slams, “damage [is] the right word.