The New Nudity
This precise and lyrical new collection from Bar-Nadav (Lullaby (with Exit Sign)
) takes the form of a list of objects vividly conjured and described in an array of voices. Each poem possesses a single-word title (the sole exception being “Table, Bed, Violin”), and the book’s table of contents is a litany of such familiar items as pill, diamond, telephone pole, spoon, tongue, and heart. Each individual poem has its particular focus; taken together, they suggest a search for self amid stress or secrecy and the need to retain something for oneself: “Confections/ sweating in plastic,// crowded in the dark/ beneath her bed.” Objects of beauty double as objects of destruction: a swan is “Death dressed/ in snow,” while the sun is “gold that molts// the eye & boils/ animals in their caves.” As the collection progresses, an elegiac narrative unfolds. The poems begin to take on added dimension and become more than what they seem, as the “hiss of history/ ablates my face, blisters// my tongue and my name,/ numbers me among millions.” Writing in a consistent tone with dark inflections, Bar-Nadav catalogues objects as a way to forge an identity and to play the role of inheritor of a “blighted alphabet.” (Nov.)
Correction: A previous version of this review listed the incorrect ISBN.