Looking for Angels in New York: Poems

Jacqueline Osherow, Author University of Georgia Press $6.95 (51p) ISBN 978-0-8203-1060-2

Though a strain of sorrow pervades this debut collection, Osherow, a skilled and wise poet, diligently and often brilliantly transforms the grief into objective observation, offering philosophical insight and optimism. She speaks of milestones, epiphanies that occur when traveling or living in an unfamiliar culture, the frailty and fortitude that exist simultaneously in all people. Direct and lucid verse about God and dreams renders the abstract accessible, her execution bringing music and beauty to difficult phenomena. About dawn, Osherow writes: ``Or perhaps He really recreates the world /As the legend says, heaven, earth, /The sun, the moon, the fish, the animals, / A city crowded with the namers of names, / Who will awaken shortly, unaware / Of any miracle, while we, who have / Very nearly seen, go back to work / Or to our beds, hoping we can try again.'' The stillness and sadness Osherow evokes through description of a specific place, a painting, a bitter winter night, a Russian poet she has read about, are at once intensely personal and universal, far-reaching and lasting. (Dec.)