In this series of new poems Gail Mazur takes stock-of the complexity of relationships between parents and children, the desires of the body as well as its frailties, the distinctions between memory and history, and the hope of art to capture these seemingly inscrutable realities. By turns mordant and passionate, narrative and meditative, Mazur's poems imply that life, with all of its losses, triumphs, and abrasive intimacies, is far richer and more elaborately metaphorical than poetry can aspire to be-and yet her poems do affectingly recreate this reality. These illuminating poems are the work of an acclaimed poet at the top of her form.
Departing little from such well-titled volumes as The Common and The Pose of Happiness, this fourth collection contains well-crafted poems about Jewish-American middle-class midlife and strife, thoughtful ekphrases, and nostalgic goings-over of origins and relationships: "Once, when I was a child,/ my mother lied to me. Maybe that day/ I was too demanding, more likely I needed/ consolation my schoolmates so lucky,/ so confident,/ so gentile." Such concerns carry over into the poet's literary life (a dominant theme), as "Keep Going" makes clear: "...your name misspelled on last evening's program;// the party uptown after the ceremonies and readings / an editor praising C's poems as if you weren't// standing there beside him, craving appreciation." The title poem's Gershwin-refrained questionings "wouldn't I choose if I could not to be human or/ any other mammal programmed for cruelty?" give way, in "I Wish I Want I Need," to unhurried lines explaining the plot of the 1970s film The Way We Were and why the speaker admires Barbra Streisand's performance therein. The grasping Freudian overtones finally overwhelm poems like "My Dream after Mother Breaks Her Hip" ("I can't dream her power away/ I'm caught here/ in eternity's shade// where I begin to move/ gradually gracelessly/ to embrace her// tree muse emptiness/ cage world") and aren't really ever relieved here, even by "Three Provincetown Mornings." (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved