Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Find: Names by Marilyn Hacker

Most of my finds are poetry books. That's because I am always on look out for those. I found the following in Feminist Review. Going through the following verse, I truly covet it!

Names by Marilyn Hacker

Be mindful of names. They’ll etch themselves

like daily specials on the window glass

in a delible medium. They’ll pass

transformed, erased, a cloud the wind dissolves

above the ruckus of the under-twelves

on the slide, the toddlers on the grass,

the ragged skinny guy taking a piss

in the bushes, a matron tanning her calves

on a bench, skirt tucked around her knees.

A sparrow lands in the japonica;

as if it were a signal, all at once

massed pigeons rush up from adjacent trees,

wingbeats intrusive and symphonic—a

near-total silence is the clear response.

From the Publisher

In Names, Marilyn Hacker juxtaposes glimpses of contemporary lives with dialogues undertaken in signal poetic voices. Using her signature wit, passion, and mastery of received and invented forms, she convinces us to believe in a world made possible by language—prescient, playful, polyglot, and often breathtaking.

from “Ghazal: The Beloved”:

Lines that grapple doubt, written because of the beloved:

when grief subsides, what survives the loss of the beloved?

Your every declaration is suspect.

That was, at least, the departing gloss of the beloved.

Were you merely a servant of the state

or (now you give the coin a toss) of the beloved?

How pure you were, resistant in an orchard.

Peace with justice: the cause of the beloved.

Publishers Weekly

Hacker's virtuosic rhymes, syllabics and other traditional devices give discipline and elegance to her learned, yet direct, clear, personal, work: her daily life in Paris and New York, her affection for other writers, her lesbian identity and her left-wing politics find generous expression in this 12th book. Those who found her earlier work of the 1990s too casual could find real power here: reacting to violence in Iraq and in the Middle East, to America's sometimes baleful foreign policies, and contemplating the mortality of her friends, Hacker achieves a sometimes grim compression.

“I tease out metaphors to link desire
and stasis, coffee, shadows, lavender;
in my name, sons and sisters die Elsewhere.”

So she writes in an abbreviated crown of sonnets; a ghazal (one of 11, all composed according to strict older rules) rebukes the poet for “easy, dishonest verses./ Nothing protects your poetry from the love that kills.” Hacker has herself become an eminent translator (of Venus Khoury-Ghata and Claire Malroux, among many others); her attention to Francophone and Arabic writers, alongside and against her American Jewish heritage, helps give this collection its sometimes surprising force.


Veens said...

I am so poem-illiterate!

Marce said...

I have never read in verse but have chose one of your recommendations to try this year.

Here is my Find

Valerie said...

This looks very interesting!

It seems like I've been acquiring more poetry books lately, probably because right now I have so many fiction and nonfiction books I need to catch up on. Hope that makes sense!

Bybee said...

I haven't read much of Marilyn Hacker's poetry, except excerpts published by Samuel R. Delany in his autobiography, The Motion of Light in Water.