Tag Archives: univ of pittsburgh press

Immigrant Model by Mihaela Moscaliuc

imm modelSeries: Pitt Poetry Series

Paperback: 112 pages

Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (January 7, 2015)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0822963345

ISBN-13: 978-0822963349

 

Review by Dennis Daly

.

Like mythological werewolves rising from musty crypts, these passionate poetic lines of Mihaela Moscaliuc’s Immigrant Model prowl over page warmth feeding from the flesh of grim fables and drinking the metallic blood of modern mechanistic life.

Moscaliuc mixes unfortunate history, the unhappiness of others, and bleak folklore in her labyrinthine journey into the heart of gothic darkness. Along the way her persona develops a survivor’s surreal logic of alternating stoicism and fear, tempered by acute powers of observation. The poet’s major pieces are cosmopolitan in nature, set in Madagascar, Romania, Spain, the Ukraine, America, and even Ireland.

The first poem after the introductory piece Moscaliuc entitles Self-Portrait with Monk. She describes a monk festooned in garlic and pushing a wheelbarrow. Then the poet invokes that strange novel of murder and mysterious mayhem, Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, for atmospheric effect. The narrative quickens, alters its flight, and changes into something wicked or wonderful that comes our way. The poet describes her ownership of the action as follows,.

He cooks and feeds and scrubs but never eats, my monk,

spends lunch elbow-deep in suds or scratching the bellies of cats.

.

No wonder he’s so famished by the time Cassiopeia arrives.

Then black chiffon and ivory flesh stream upward,

shape-shifting in flight: raven, whiskered bat, pricolici, varcolaci.

At dawn, he lands between two rose bushes, soot in his mouth,

weeping who knows why, my celestial monk,

torn cassock glistening with spent saliva, rapture in upturned eyes.

.

In Turning the Bones, Moscaliuc uses straightforward narrative to relate a seemingly ghastly ritual practiced by villagers in Madagascar in which the shrouded bones of relatives are temporarily disinterred and danced with. The occasion calls for good food, local brews, and colorful dress. Carthusian monks would understand this ceremony of remembering death and examining mortality. Here is the heart of the poem,

.

… bundles heaved up

onto woven straw mats, names coursing the cheering crowd.

Perfumed and swathed in new damask, bodies are invited to dance.

In this hummock of tall grass, in the eye of the Indian Ocean,

the living and the dead reclaim themselves, flowery skirts

flapping against the bouquet of bones, bones reshuffling

as they warm to the tunes of trumpets and clarinets.

.

The lengthy poem Ana to Manole reinterprets a chilling Romanian folktale that certainly rings true in the art world of today. Eyes wide open, the artist—here a mason—sacrifices his family to the needs of his patron, his ego, and his audience. He walls his pregnant wife up, betrays her for the ephemeral, only to be destroyed himself, turned into a cheap tourist destination. The poet describes Manole’s fate through the eyes of Ana,

.

You raised the wall till it cinctured me whole,

silt shored against carcass, and for the glory of what?

A toe ring in the god’s trinket box, this masterpiece

you then bragged you could outshine.

I say it was the jaded gods having fun.

To think you could win their grace

with gilded turrets, dream yourself

a welder of shadows.

You fashioned the voice out of fear

you’ll stay a mason, master bricklayer

instead of Creator, so here we are:

you, water fountain fed pennies by tourists

too sated to invent their own myths

.

For harrowing detail and lyrical fury very few poems can touch Moscaliuc’s sectional poem entitled Radioactive Wolves: A Retelling.  Divided into two major parts the poem first relates the Chernobyl catastrophe of 1986 and its aftermath and then tells a fictional tale based on real events that occurred at an infamous Romanian orphanage. Both sections deconstruct misery into detail packed with dread, often lyrical. Consider this comment from the Chernobyl section on government helpfulness,

.

All books disappeared, all important ones,

on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on X-rays.

The medical bulletins too, vanished.

Those who could took potassium iodine.

For that, you really needed to know someone.

.

A sign we could follow, live by:

as long as there were sparrows and pigeons in town

we could nest there.

.

My favorite poem in this haunting collection, Memoir, combines righteous anger with passionate celebration. Nothing surreal here, the nerve endings are too raw. Moscaliuc portrays the despicable and wealth-besotted dictators of Romania, Elana and Nicolae Ceausecu,  after twenty–five years of terrorizing their people, denying the obvious. Dragged before a firing squad of machine gunners they collected their well-deserved rewards. And, yes, Elana, did indeed actively participate in the countless atrocities. Both the abbreviated show trial and the execution were filmed. The piece ends in catharsis and relief,

.

You may have understood the story of the firing squad,

how, fearing clones, we measured and re-measured the corpses,

shot and reshot them. We each craved a bit of dried blood,

a frayed cuticle, an eyebrow stump, a finger

on the trigger, so we replayed the execution all through Christmas,

kissed our informers, broke bread with strangers,

stopped stoning strays, begged Gypsies for forgiveness.

We loved as only people who cannot get enough of death love,

we loved unconditionally for one long day that Christmas of 1989.

.

Immigrant Model, the final and title poem in this collection works wonderfully. The poet infuses her protagonist with mystery and sensuousness. Models, at least the very best of them, channel natural processes in ways unknown even to them. They connect with an artistic perception and stoke it further. Add in the immigrant’s complex and sometimes fluctuating identity and an interesting, often darker, dynamic occurs. Model perceives her artistic interpreters and then seeks to judge them in these lines,

.

… as students sketch, she re-roots:

the desiccated belly of her Moldavian village creek

toothed with rocks, eyed with shriveled minnows,

but she can still feel their eye, the hammock of her body

swayed by the screech of charcoals’ smooth incisions.

Tonight she steals in to see herself in various stages

of completion, looks for the hand knowing enough, kind enough

to release her…

.

Bats flitting in from the night sky, Moscaliuc’s poems may startle. Mornings after, one remembers only their magic.

You can check out the book here:

http://www.amazon.com/Immigrant-Model-Pitt-Poetry-Series/dp/0822963345

.

Dennis Daly

Dennis Daly

-Dennis Daly has been published in numerous poetry journals and magazines and recently nominated for a Pushcart prize.  Ibbetson Street Press published The Custom House, his first full length book of poetry in June, 2012. His second book, a verse translation of Sophocles’ Ajax, was published by Wilderness House Press in August, 2012. His third book of poems entitles Night Walking with Nathaniel was recently released by Dos Madres Press. A fourth book is nearing completion. http://dennisfdaly.blogspot.com/

catalog of unabashed gratitude by ross gay

catalog of unabashedSeries: Pitt Poetry Series

Paperback: 112 pages

Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (January 7, 2015)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0822963310

ISBN-13: 978-0822963318

 

Review by g emil reutter 

Born in Youngstown Ohio, raised in Levittown Pennsylvania. College in the foothills of the Poconos, and City of Yonkers, suburban Westchester County New York and Temple University in Philadelphia. Ross Gay writes of where he has come from, his working class roots and his travels through this life of his. He is a poet on the run, always moving forward. His poetry consists of beautiful metaphors and startling images. Such is the case with this excerpt from to the fig tree at 9th and Christian

.

I was without a

sack so my meager

plunder would have to

suffice and an old woman

whom gravity

was pulling into

the earth loosed one

from a low slung

branch and it’s eye

wept like hers

which she dabbed

with a kerchief as she

cleaved the fig with

what remained of her

teeth

.

Gay writes of his father in the poem burial. Wanting to coax him back to life he takes, the jar which has become my father’s house, empties it into two fresh plum tree holes, …splaying wide their roots, casting the gray dust of my old man evenly throughout the hole… His father now will live through the plum trees bearing tender fruit.

 

In the poem feet, there is the girl, Tina, and her gaudy, cement maker, Levittown accent. And this beautiful line in the opening stanza of c’mon

.

My Mother is not the wings,

nor the bird, but the moon

across the laced hands

of the nest.

.

Ross Gay is a fresh voice in American poetry. His poems are fast paced, carefully crafted with great attention to detail of those he writes about and the images that surround him.

You can check out the book here:

http://www.amazon.com/Catalog-Unabashed-Gratitude-Poetry-Series/dp/0822963310

 

Poets @ Pennypack II 004-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. He can be found at https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/

Do Not Rise by Beth Bachmann

do not riseSeries: Pitt Poetry Series

Paperback: 72 pages

Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (January 19, 2015)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0822963280

ISBN-13: 978-0822963288

Review by g emil reutter

 Some folks are comfortable with war as a basic function of humanity. There has never been a time when a war wasn’t going on somewhere. In fact when people are not engaged in war they normally turn on each other fighting over property, sex, love, glory, and greed. Humanity masks our jungle with the cover of civility. How civil? It may depend on what each individual considers civil.

Beth Bachmann is not comfortable with war. This collection is an honest reflection of the effects of war without any hyperbole. Bachmann reveals a beautiful compassion in these poems. There is no doubt in these poems that there is a cleansing coupled with the disturbance of war. Bachmann throughout this collection utilizes line breaks and pauses to breathe life into each of these poems.

Bachmann is very adept at utilizing language yet it is in the basic realism of her poems she draws the reader in:

.

meal 

Who belongs to this dead? Its leg

Is confused with another leg. Toss it

In the pile for sorting. Something’s missing.

Don’t let the dog walk off with my bones. Who

put out the red bowl of water? I need that

fire. The wood for gripping. The twisting

bandages. Barber, there are rabbits in my tulips.

Hand me the bag of human hair. Keep the teeth.

In this heat, too much blood burns.

Bachmann conveys the violence and survival of war in this poem that says so much in just a few words. In war too much blood burns, there is a sorting of body parts when collected. It is just a brutal fact. Pick up a copy of Do Not Rise, you may not be comfortable with it, but comfort is not what this book is about.

You can check out the book here:

http://www.amazon.com/Not-Rise-Pitt-Poetry-Series/dp/0822963280

g emil reutter 2-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. He can be found at https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/