The Ada Poems

Knopf. Sept. 2010. c.80p. ISBN 9780307272478. $25. POETRY
Nothing is what it seems in Zarin's fourth collection of poetry (after The Watercourse). Loosely based on Nabokov's novel Ada, a story of incestuous love, Zarin's book fuses allusions to Nabokov with references to contemporary events. It also combines erotic images with those that seem childlike. Zarin, who is proficient in both free and formal verse, includes many exquisite contemporary sonnets. A Yale professor, contributor to The New Yorker, children's book author, and winner of the Lavan Younger Poets Award in 1994, Zarin begins the book in medias res. She draws the reader into the narrative line with arresting metaphors reminiscent of those by Theodore Roethke and with cliff-hanger endings. She weaves quotations from Ada into the poems; some serve as epigraphs, others as part of the text.
VERDICT Although somewhat distracting, Zarin's technique adds resonance, helping the poems to work on several levels and giving the book a frenetic Alice in Wonderland atmosphere. With its deft wordplay and polished style, Zarin's collection offers a chilling poetry of double meanings that will appeal to sophisticated readers.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing