The Soul Sister Special! - 2 BOOK COMBO!
Adagio & Lamentation by Naomi Ruth Lowinsky & After the Jug Was Broken by Leah Shelleda
Sparks of Limitless Life
Malcolm R. Campbell reviews After the Jug Was Broken
Students of the ancient texts tell us that when the infinite flowed into the original vessels of the finite, the vessels shattered. Their shards, each with a spark of light, comprise all we know in a world of apparent opposites.
In the title poem in "After the Jug Was Broken," Leah Shelleda writes that if the vessels were too fragile to contain the light, "Then I will be a gatherer of shards." Shelleda organizes her shards in this luminous collection of sparks into Myth, Experience, Place and Spirit.
Some of the shards are transcendent. In Myth, her "Invocation" asks the Lamias of old to "Send sudden gusts of wild song" and Mary Magdalene asks again the old riddle, "How may a woman also enter?"
Some of the shards are sharp. In Experience, "The Memory of Light" cuts deep when it says "How rare when joy enters history/like fireworks and lasting/about as long" and "Extinct Birds" draws blood when it says "The Great Auk the Madagascar hawk/ the last ones died of indifference."
Some of the shards are kaleidoscopic, reflecting the visions of multiple places. In Place, Shelleda writes in "Behind the Sacred Heart" that she doesn't want to write about the Sacred Heart, preferring to tell us about a dream "of an openhearted wise man/who arrives four times a year/once in each season/but that comes later/in a language/that is not yet spoken."
None of the shards are like the shards of broken pottery displayed dead under glass in museums. They shine with their apportioned photons of light. They live and breathe and if we take them into ourselves with our apportioned share of the infinite breath, we will be changed in ways we should not try to predict. In Spirit, the final poem "Heenayni," whispers "I am here/here in this world as it is."
"Heenayni," from the Hebrew for "I am here" is, according to the students of the ancient texts, the moment where categories, worlds, photons and shards come together and the poet and the reader of the poems experience the whole as divine and as one.
Joy and sorrow dancing in the Light
Malcolm R. Campbell reviews Adagio & Lamentation
A delicate writing desk stands ready for use in a sunny room on the cover of Naomi Ruth Lowinsky's collection of poems, Adagio & Lamentation. The room is filled with light from the world outside the high arched window. The watercolor painting by the poet's grandmother Emma Hoffman ("Oma") displays a room Lowinsky saw many times as a teenager when she visited Oma's house.
One can imagine Lowinsky working in such a room with a pen so sharp that it tears the paper, cutting through the desk's polished veneer to carry ink and light deep into the primary wood. "I wish you could stop being dead," Lowinsky writes to Oma in the opening poem, "so I could talk to you about the light."
The nib on Lowinsky's pen shreds the curtain of time that conceals her ancestors and allows them to speak. "The spirit of my dead grandmother came to us as we lay after love in the renovated Old Milano on the northern California coast." The spirit's words in "ghost gtory" cut deep. In "Adagio and Lamentation," the poet hears her father playing the piano while "our dead came in and sat around us a ghostly variation/and my grandmother sang lieder of long ago."
Lowinsky's collection of poems is organized into four sections, "before the beginning and after the end," "what broke?," "great lake of my mother" and "what flesh does to flesh." With strength, certainty and intuition, the poems live and breathe on their pages, and when experienced together, comprise an ever-new song about long-ago wars, colors, shadows, moments and people.
Joy and sorrow dance slowly in the light throughout Adagio & Lamentation. From the opening invocation to Oma to the closing "almost summer," Lowinsky's words--written with "a flicker of serpent's tongue in her ear"--tear through the paper-thin present and drive their way deep into the underworld of the unconscious where the inspirations of her muse are fiery, erotic, earthy, transcendent and whole.
About the Reviewer
Malcolm R. Campbell is a reviewer, editor, and the author of several novels, including The Sun Singer
. Learn more about Malcolm and his many publications at Malcolm's Round Table
This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 17 August, 2011.