Friday, June 01, 2012

Handiwork Amaranth Borsuk

Amaranth Borsuk
Winner : 2011 Slope Book Prize
Slope Editions $14.00
ISBN: 978-0-9777698-7-2

“...the way
a reader pores over a text she might
fall into: learning their names...”

The poet trusts the reader to come to their own understanding,
their own images, beyond the implication, the shadows words
leave. The words pass from meaning to experience:

“The hand that had its work cut out for it was cut out
for its work. Knuckling down on the desk, it curled
to a tool not there, scissors that might replace pen
with loop and lever, flexed: machinely precision-
potential at rest...”

Borsuk uses gematria, “a clue to the author's procedure lies
in the mystical Jewish practice of gematria, which assigns
numerical value to a letter, word, or phrase”:

“Salt king, for what did you walk,

for war or dreams,

everyone as

nothing to you?

Lake moon     milk tooth,

semaphore      lockdown.”

We know the poems practice a principle, which we may or may
not be familiar to the reader. The poems stand on their own as
poems, experimental, lyrical, and language::

“if a flower confesses its shame in a little book
if fire burns only windows and doors
if fruit turns to stone in your hands
if food turns to dust in your mouth
if the things of this world are more or less beautiful than
you remembered...”

For me the poems read like an objective abstract painting, revising
the form, being partial in its rendering of the objective, these poems
do the same as a painting. We fill in the images and play with colors::

“Fartherking slew the city

and everything

in it – would not spare

even an ear

of wheat – turning earth

cruel with salt.”

The poems are not obscure, they open and close and we participate
in the action,; in not saying everything, we get to experience our own
poems. The reader either enjoys negotiating the implications
or the reader relates in ways that make sense to them because of
their own exposure to new writing::

“Tenders of salt, shaken,

rendered empty,    still.

Harvest's jealously

guarded privilege: naming

a price

in small hard seeds.”

My criticism is not in the poems but in the reviews or the critique
of poems such as these. Yes the poems are intellectual and in thinking about
the word intellectual I find it dismissive of the actual poems and dismissive
of the content of the poems. For me the word intellectual limits the poems. The
poems are as any poem or almost most any poem, that resonates with certain

“Who / make /s/ life / edible
has / the same / / worry / every day,

it's out of date.
That /fear of / getting late
or letting / go,

liver / heavy / in / wonder
at / all / that / promise.”

In the experience of Borsuk's poems, I find the tint, the fallen
words, the replications, the handiwork. I recommend this book.

Irene Koronas
Reviewer: Ibbetson Street Press
Poetry Editor: Wilderness House Literary Review

No comments:

Post a Comment