Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Review of POETS FOR HAITI, An Anthology of Poetry and Art, Edited by Kim Triedman

Review of POETS FOR HAITI, An Anthology of Poetry and Art, Edited by Kim Triedman, Preface by Paul Farmer and Ophelia Dahl, Yileen Press, PO Box 2828,
Vineland, NJ 08362, www.yileenpress.com, $20 donation benefits people of Haiti, ravaged by the earthquake in Port-au-Prince, of January 12, 2010, through Partners in Health (pih.org)

By Barbara Bialick

With its striking red cover on which a mysterious and mystical blue man made of geodes and straw, strides proudly, this exquisitely illustrated and classy collection of poetry, grew out of a benefit of poetry readings by 18 Boston-area poets held on the Harvard University campus last February, 2010.

This book is a testimony to the power of art and poetry to respond wherever the need is great and emotional. All the colorful, symbolic prints in the book are by prominent Haitian artists. The poems are written by American and Haitian poets, some about the horrors of the earthquake itself, others chosen for the way they speak to God, life and death, history, and the will to survive.

Some of the 30 poets included in the book are former poet laureate Robert Pinsky, Rosanna Warren, Gail Mazur, Afaa Michael Weaver, Daniel Tobin, Danielle Legros Georges, all from the U.S. as well as Haitian poet Marilene Phipps-Kettlewell, Patrick Sylvain and Haitian-American poet populist of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Jean-Dany Joachim, to name a few. There are 18 gorgeous, full-color glossy art prints, including the cover. Here’s an enticing sampling of poetry:

A compelling poem, called “Ports of Sorrow” by Patrick Sylvain, brings you right in:
“Early Afternoon, I stand in my own port of pain…/Port-au-Prince has become an archipelago of open tombs,/Consumed slowly by the sun and forming an everlasting covenant./…Port-au-Prince has neither port nor prince…”

In “Earthquake” by Marilene Phipps Kettlewell, a long, powerful poem, she writes about how the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus had an “immense Christ/who stood on top of the steeple, weightless,/…God’s son now lies/face down, open arms embracing dirt./…All hearts bleed as one heart.”

Robert Pinsky contributed his poem “Ginza Samba” from The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996 where he writes about “the trading of brasses,/pearls and ivory,/calicos and slaves,/ Laborers and girls….”. that he himself becomes historically connected to through an old saxophone.

But as Jean-Dany Joachim wrote in the last poem of the collection, “This evening I will not cry for my Dead/…I give my tears in exchange for LIFE…”.

On that note I urge you to get this wonderful, sad, yet hopeful collection of art and poetry.

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