POETRY

Aviva-no

Alice James Books. Nov. 2019. 100p. ISBN 9781948579056. pap. $15.95. POETRY
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Most American readers won’t understand the original Hebrew of poems sitting edge to edge with their English translations in Adaf’s fine collection, a meditation on the death of his 43-year-old sister. Nor are we likely to be familiar with the Talmudic, Rabbinic, and biblical references that color his lines. But in Adaf’s incantatory efforts to keep his sister’s spirit alive, we can recognize a universal need to stay the departed from being lost to the ages. As he writes in poem 24: “Noooooo, pain, don’t let go–my heart, don’t cease in sorrow/ blood, boil, flare, murmur, and body, burn, burn, burn, the nerves winding through the flesh, and you too/ muscles,/ catch fire, bones chafing the innards,/ pinch, scratch them some, so that abscess will emerge/ thus I shall not ask where her memory is—what oblivion might mime,/ thus I shall not let slip between my hands/ a sister into time.” Patient readers will be amply rewarded by the rich images and charged language that give us a close look at an unfamiliar landscape from which to consider the world.
VERDICT A deeply felt work that reveals both the poet’s inner life and the political complexities of the world in which he lives.

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