Thursday, January 28, 2010

Laissez-Passer by Ricky Rapoport Friesem

by Ricky Rapoport Friesem
Kipod Press
Israel 2009
Softbound, 115 pages

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

Israel has always produced good poets, starting in biblical times. In the more modern era many began writing in their mother tongues: Russian, Polish, German, French. Eventually Hebrew became the language of their art. Today there are many Hebrew poets and almost as many who write poetry in English. Voices Israel is one organization in Israel that promotes English poetry with a newsletter, annual poetry competition as well as a yearly anthology.

One Israeli poet writing in English is Ricky Rapoport Friesem whose latest book Laissez-Passer, Poems 2001-2009 was recently released. Friesem is a poet and documentary film maker who has written two cookbooks, an award winning poetry collection and has had her poetry published in numerous magazines.

Friesem’s poetry is often ironic, honest and short. She writes some great lines like the opening to “Frequent Flyer,” In a strange city/where no one knows my name/I can ignore the sights.

There is also the entirety of the title poem “Laissez-Passer”

Only words
can grant me freedom
let me break through
love’s tight bonds
slide me through
restraint’s barbed borders
turn me loose in the beyond

Friesem notes about the words laissez-passer, “In French, literally, ‘let go.’ Usually used to refer to a special travel document issued in lieu of a passport. And so we see her travel document within the seven lines of the poem that will help her find her freedom.

In the clever “Book Collector” Friesem sees herself as an overlooked book by a potential lover, or perhaps just scanned but never fully appreciated. Even the final line might be a double entendre:

I am a book
you’ll never read.

You’ll stroke my cover
run your fingers down my spine,
riffle through me, feel my heft
and nod with satisfaction.
But read me? Never.

I make a nice addition
to your bookshelf.
Great book.
In good condition.
Barely used.

In a book of more than 100 poems there are many to chose from and quite a few you will find worthy of a second read. Ricky Rapoport Friesem has written a personal and enjoyable poetry book.

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