Monday, April 21, 2008
Double Crossing: New&Selected Poems. Eva Salzman ( Bloodaxe Books Highgreen, Tarset, Northumberland NE48 IRP. http:///www.bloodaxebooks.com ) Distributed in U.S.A. by Dufour
Review by Doug Holder
I am afraid of Eva Salzman. This woman is as sharp as a tack, and in her writing she is not stifled by tact, or afraid to attack. She sizes up my gender with a laser-like eye, and more than once I felt like my fly was down. The woman has a high-toned resume, but her poetry in the best sense remain accessible, sparkling with word play, leavened with levity, not to mention a delicious dash of world weariness.
In the poem: “The Having of the Cake,” Salzman wonders what separates men and boys, and is it simply the size of their toys? This poem examines a woman when the blush of youth has flown the coop. She wonders about the callused brush off from the man or should I say the boy?
“ He burdens her with images of someone gross and elderly
stuffed into short, tight skirts, accentuating all the fat,
with images of missing woman’s destiny—he burdened me,
his feet upon a desk, and made his cruelty resemble tact.
The girls with babies clutch them close, and blessedly.
The boys arrange their separate lives, convenient flats
both north and south (an urban nest, a nest in the country)
and wait for 45, and newer girls with wombs entirely intact.”
And how about the dearly departed? Read the following poem at the wake, when you sit shiva, and when they read that purple flourish of an eulogy… and then get back to me:
Mneme Re-Writes History
I’m so damn tired of love for the dead,
of the lies of the living about their dead.
Minus the bodily subject of their praise,
they dig up corpses of buried words,
powder the vowels, adjust the consonant limbs
and prop them up on silk pillows.
They take into their mouths cold lips
with passion, finally, for their own grief.
Salzman lives in England but was raised in the New York City/Long Island axis. And being the dyed-in-the –wool New York Jew that I am, I can detect that very wisecracking, wonderfully jaded, brand of humor I grew up with in her work. Yes Salzman’s work made me laugh, but it is dead serious.