Friday, April 23, 2010

Poetry Book Review: Taste of Cherry by Kara Candito

Title: Taste of Cherry
Kara Candito
ISBN: 9780803225237

Publisher: University of Nebrasaka Press/2009
Pages: 66

The following poem hit me hard when I started to read this short book of poetry. Even though I have never been to an ancient city, I connected to the feelings depicted here:

POSTCARD / I’ve Been Meaning to Write --

because it’s August in an ancient city and I want to
tell you about this heat that hangs like the mind

of a landscape in which everything is still and irritable
as the stray cats that nap on the ruins of Pompey’s theatre.

Because the man whom served my espresso this morning
looked like you. In a certain light, I peered through

the bronze keyhole and saw the Basilica framed by fire.
Because I miss you even as I try to efface you,

like the lunatic who smashed David’s genitals with a hammer.
Beauty is an anesthesia here. It dulls the brain. I write;

it’s called memory, then story. It never resembles the real
things I want to say when the wind is still and fountains

rush around the night. My apartment is dark and laundry
hangs in sad heaps on the balcony. There are chicken bones

in the sink. Below, in the Piazza, a gelateria. At night,
families arrive – men holding their sons high, like props;

women blowing smoke in imperfect circles and whispering
behind manicured hands about their husbands’ affairs.

So many minor betrayals (the urge to sleep through church bells).
The Triumph of Galatea, on the reverse, is short and coarse.

Recall that it ends in bloodshed. I think Raphael understood
that no one wants to be Polyphemus, the one who sees

her eyes as little spurs in his sides and suffers and hides.
We all want to be Galatea, laughing sidelong, smirking

over her shoulder at a suitor’s clumsy song. Such a small
offense. And doesn’t it make her beautiful? So, grief becomes

the punishment for ridicule and justice is its own rapture –
a boulder hurled, a river pounding a hollow cave in the head.

I can’t forget your studio, the one on the side street,
with sealed windows. Everything inside cheap and new

or abandoned and broken. On the wall, a still life of overripe
fruit in a wooden frame. How you envied the voluptuous grapes,

the way they burst over the rim of the bowl –

I loved the titles of the poems. Those only enhanced my reading pleasure. As a poet I believe that titles are important and should be such that they suck the reader into the poem in its entirity. Candito has done just that and I was totally enthralled by her titles. You can see for yourself by these examples: "Self-Portrait with an Ice Pick", "Notes for a Novice Flaneur", "Floristic Elegy for the Year I Lived with You in Coconut Grove", "Girl in the Grass", "Barely Legal: Upon Finding My Father's Porn", "He Was Only Half as Beautiful," and "On the Occasion of Our Argument During a VH1 Best Power Ballads Countdown". These simply jump out and the imagery is too good to be ignored.

These poems are so beautiful despite sometimes speaking of harsh things. My mind rolled with her tapestry of words. In Taste of Cherry the poems take place in ancient cities to very modern ones, taking us into a journey beyond imagination.

Every poetry and every poet ought to get a copy of it. It is well worth it.

Thanks to the poet for my copy of Taste of Cherry. This one is a keeper.


Serena said...

Sounds like a collection I'd enjoy! Thanks for the review.

Serena said...

Is this the review for the National Poetry Month Blog Tour? If so, please add the full link to Mr. Linky on the welcome post and email it to susan at winabook.

Jeanne said...

That's a wonderful poem. I especially like the lines "Because I miss you even as I try to efface you,/like the lunatic who smashed David’s genitals with a hammer." That's one perspective on how something like that could happen.

fredamans said...

Fantastic poem. It hits spots I didn't know I had.

Great review! This is a book I would love, as I write much poetry.

Valerie said...

I liked this poem very much and discovering a new poet. I'm taking note of this one!

Jack said...


I left my comment yesterday but it is not here today. I wonder what happened. Read most of the posts. Good reviews. Beautiful poem with lot of emotions.

Take care

Jack said...


And I fully agree with you on Earth Day one.

Take care

gautami tripathy said...

Jack, you comment came up on the previous post. You can see it there too, if you wish.

Welcome to my blog.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Lovely poetry, Gautami! And it's good to see you again; it's been too long.

I'm dropping in to let you know I've got this up at Win a Book for you.

Anonymous said...

Lovely poem, great post :)