Restless Messengers: Poems

Norman Finkelstein, Author University of Georgia Press $0 (75p) ISBN 978-0-8203-1379-5
This collection supplies numerous images of an insinuating messenger like Kafka's Barnabas who is cited in the epigraph to the volume and again in a poem that bears his name as its title. His message about the ephemeral nature of experience informs the entire text: ``There are so many poignant evaporations, / as the solid house, the sturdy tree, / the hammock cocoon of delightful rest / come to a term and pass.'' But other messengers are also addressed here: authors, composers and figures from literature (Wallace Stevens, John Ashbery, Bruno Schulz, Janusz Korczak, Schubert, the brothers Grimm). They are representatives of what Finkelstein ( The Utopian Moment in Contemporary American Poetry ) calls ``the living structure of memory,'' the non-quotidian universe that doesn't fade or contract or tarnish. Much of the collection has been inspired by works of literature or art and this gives the poems a rich texture. Many of them are shaped in the irregular ode form, which is visually pleasing although at times it seems inappropriate and the words fall with a thud. In general the poems are intellectually provocative and the best ones, such as the opening verse, ``A Poem for the Little Shoemakers,'' retain a sense of mystery. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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