All Odd and Splendid

Hilda Raz, Author Wesleyan University Press $22.95 (92p) ISBN 978-0-8195-6892-2
Raz's sixth collection of poems takes its title and section names from its Diane Arbus epigraph, using the late photographer's fascination with the ""especial shape we come in"" to frame her own quiet meditations on form. She studies poetic structure (the book includes a villanelle, a poem called ""Terza Rima,"" a Ghazal), as well as the forms of relationships and the unsaid things that mold them: ""Sacrifice can have no meaning if the witness turns away."" As the parent of a transgendered child, Raz (TRANS) considers the shifting nature of motherhood and gender, letting it thoroughly permeate her work (""The especial shape we come in/ is insufficient, says the child/ come slippery from the body/ of another especial shape that comes in/ the shape of its mother""). While the weight of her prosy and contemplative style can at times flatten her insights, Raz's intense focus on the domestic and familiar more often yields observations that are paradoxically surprising: ""What means all this?// Nothing, says the red bird on the branch/ darning winter out of the nest, Damn nothing.""
Reviewed on: 11/03/2008
Release date: 11/01/2008
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