Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Headwind Migration. Dara Barnat.

Headwind Migration. Dara Barnat. ( Pudding House Publications 81 Shadymere Lane Columbus, Ohio www.puddinghouse.com) $10.


I met Dara Barnat when I ran a few poetry workshops in Israel as a guest of the “ Voices Israel” literary organization in December of 2007. Like me, Barnat was raised in the suburbs of New York City, but unlike me she chose to relocate to Israel. Now in her 30’s, she teaches at Tel Aviv University, and is finishing up her doctorate titled: “ Walt Whitman and Jewish American Poetry.”
I later published Barnat in an issue of Ibbetson Street, and recommended that she send her poetry manuscript to Pudding House. And sure enough a book was birthed, and she calls it “ Headwind Migration”
This collection has the tight-coiled feel of many revisions to reach the desired effect and affect. I remember teaching a workshop that Barnat was in at a hotel overlooking the Mediterranean, and telling the class how I loved to write about food ( I had been gorging myself on hummus and pita on the beach earlier.). Well Dara has a few accomplished food poems in this collection that made me hunger for more. Her poem “ The Secrets of Challah” certainly got a “rise” out of me. The idea of this deliciously knotted, and golden loaf, is fully baked to act as a conduit for the familial and ancestral legacy with all its mystery and secrets:

“My mother braids secrets
into her Challah,
folds them into pouches
of heavy dough,
kneads them to become perfect,
round loaves.

Many times I’ve watched her
bake, she adds flour or water,
depending on the texture,
and molds the skin,
a technique she learned
years ago.

Perhaps standing closer,
I might have grasped
that the air bubbles
were not really air bubbles, but
the saddest parts
of our history, the history
that finds you.

To her credit,
what better place to hide
secrets than in Challah,
where they can be shaped
into a familiar

And in “A Brilliant Fish” Barnat has a wonderful flash of insight from the light of a brilliant fish. The poem explores the need to renew, rediscover, and embrace the familiar feel of love in an ever changing relationship:

“We must choose each other
again and again.

The feeling is a brilliant fish
you catch a thousand times.

We must carry each other
like smooth stones
in the palms of our hands—

a familiar feel,
a roundness.”

Highly Recommended.

No comments:

Post a Comment