Nettles: Poems

Venus Khoury-Ghata, Author, Marilyn Hacker, Translator Graywolf Press $15 (219p) ISBN 978-1-55597-487-9
Mournful, erotic, bewildering, often shocking, and always passionate over losses public and private, the Lebanese Francophone poet Khoury-Ghata's five new verse sequences-brought into convincing English by the Paris-based Hacker-should win her some American recognition. A prolific novelist as well as a poet, Khoury-Ghata here uses her talent for narrative together with her post-Surrealist sense of description and line. The first two sequences react at once to the deaths of the poet's husband, brother and mother, and to the wider dilemma of diaspora and refugees in and out of the Arab world. Khoury-Ghata (herself long resident in France) depicts a symbolic family as if in a vivid dream: ""The mother arranges the marbles by size and sadness/ the child will play with them when he's less dead."" The longest sequence follows the life of a village, and of a woman who leaves it, portraying scenes at once recognizably Near Eastern and hauntingly placed outside time. Shorter, but no less fiery, closing sequences pursue metaphors from nautical life and address recent Lebanese refugees. Khoury-Ghata's recent works are a cluster of cyclones in a world of light breezes and some readers may argue over how they fit together .
Reviewed on: 01/07/2008
Release date: 01/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
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