Bitter Angel

Amy Gerstler, Author North Point Press $12.95 (79p) ISBN 978-0-86547-408-6
Like the clairvoyant speaker in one of the many dramatic monologues in this imaginative collection, Gerstler (True Bride ) seems to have been ``born without immunity / to this din in the air: / the sad humming of the long lost.'' Her characters inhabit the fringes of society: they are saints (``the more neurotic, unattractive / and accident-prone, the better''), homeless men, a sleepwalker and a hypnotist, and the ``bitter angel'' of the title poem, who unceremoniously appears in a ``tinny, nickel-and-dime light.'' Innocents all, these would-be seers bear the burden of a hypersensitivity to the world around them and, because of it, share a kind of grace. For the poet, redemption seems to lie in the essential resilience of humanity, and in the belief in an elusive, Edenic landscape where ``for every hurt / there is a leaf to cure it.'' Gerstler balances classical allusion with bold experimentation in voice, form and content, creating a tension that gives her work an urgent, honest edge. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/30/1990
Release date: 02/01/1990
Paperback - 80 pages - 978-0-88748-231-1
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