Come and See

Graywolf. 2011. c.104p. ISBN 9781555975869. pap. $15. POETRY
"Now a second snow/ is falling on the first.// In a land of troubles/ every snowfall is the same." The author of more than 20 books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize winner Howe explores the cultural uncertainty inherent in uncertain times through poems that often reflect on art, film, and drama. She includes meditations on Elem Klimov's Agoniya and Larissa Shepitko's The Ascent, both Soviet films, and on an essay written by Polish Jewish author Ilona Karmel, a Holocaust survivor: "Ideally poetry reveals the face of justice through syntax, balance, image. That is, the harmony strung between two disparate images." These are poems of multiple selves and multiple eras, of oppression and the search for justice, of time's fleeting and relentless passage and the inevitability of both. Sometimes stylized poetically and sometimes arranged in more proselike paragraphs, Howe's lines reflect her meditative stance, asking questions, probing for answers, searching for truths. And yet: "You can never/ persuade one person that another/ is a liar. People prefer the liar."
VERDICT Recommended for all readers of contemporary poetry.
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