Friday, July 18, 2008
Eden Waters Press 2008
Edited by Anne Brudevold
If the fragrance of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies wafting out of an eight-room suburban colonial conjures home to you, then reading “Home: Antholgy” (Eden Waters Press 2008) will bring you back. If the rat-a-tat of gunfire on the mean streets of the inner city pockmarked your childhood neighborhood, ditto.
Editor Anne Brudevold has deftly woven together the work of forty-one writers to compile an anthology that spans the range of contemporary human habitat. Many fresh, unexpected images of home pop out at the reader, in the poems themselves, and in the stirring photographs liberally scattered throughout. In “House over the World”, Paul Hotovsky’s daughter dreams of long division, and “the dream turns into the nightmare/ of our house divided by the world.” The poem is as elegantly concise as an equation. An Armenian massacre of poets in 1915 is chronicled in “Coming Home” by Daniel Varoujan, translated by Diana Der-Hovanessian: “Let the oven’s smoke rise/ to mix with the blue smoke of the roofs.”
Oddly, a poem about homelessness asserts one of the most striking statements about making a home where you can. Pam Rosenblatt’s “By the Highway” voices the fundamental need for “what’s rightfully ours” in childlike repetitions: “we live here we live here we live here” – here being by an off-ramp of Massachusetts Interstate 93.
I was reminded of Jack London’s vast, crushing wilderness in Holly Anderson’s “Bovina, 4 PM.” “A motherless mob of ridges” tears through a “Braille of ridges”. The language in these poems runs the gamut from austere to ambrosial.
“Love Song for Roxbury”, Bernadette Davidson’s ode to a multi-cultural pocket of Boston, features an overflowing laundromat and “salsa erupting”, bringing to mind Octavio Paz’s classic “Mexican silence”, punctuated by cock crow and babies crying.
For all of us, no matter where we came from, the visceral punch of home informs who we are, who we have become. Turning each page of “Home” opens a window into the life of someone else on the planet we are thankful to get to know. We walk home with Tom Sheehan, in “Compensation”, to greet his wife who is emptying the trash: “Thread me into your labors/weave me onto the high day.” “Home” will make a conversation-starting coffee-table book in any studio apartment, mansion, or yurt.
Reviewed by Lisa Beatman, author of Manufacturing America: Poems from the Factory Floor (Ibbetson Street Press 2008).