Cry Back My Sea: 48 Poems in 6 Waves

Sarah Arvio.. Knopf, $28 (110p) ISBN 978-0-593-31950-5
The meditative fourth collection from Arvio (Night Thoughts) considers the contradictions of romantic love and how passion can be both exhilarating and toxic at once. A translator of multiple languages, Arvio emphasizes sound over meaning with mixed results. The lack of punctuation and erratic enjambment can drive the poems forward with a propulsive and frenetic energy, as in "Shrew," which begins, "I hate my heart What is this wild and bad/ renunciation I hate my heart Why/ does it hurt me even now after so// much raking over." In less successful poems, Arvio's approach can read as a lack of technical proficiency, as in "Whorl": "All those hard words heard in my ears/ Our word hoard is harder than a hatchet/ heavier than a heart on the warpath." Arvio is at her best when employing straightforward language and a touch of humor, as in the poem "Shoe," which addresses the challenge of reckoning with one's own mortality: "Can you stand the thought of being dead/some days I think I'll take it lying down/Sometimes it's good to take a stand/though I think I want a standard-issue death." Readers fond of phonetic lyricism will enjoy Arvio's attention to sound, despite the pieces' occasional lack of depth. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 08/14/2021
Release date: 08/10/2021
Genre: Poetry
Book - 1 pages - 978-0-593-31951-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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