Colosseum

Katie Ford, Author . Graywolf $15 (60p) ISBN 978-1-55597-501-2

Named for the great amphitheatre in Rome, Ford's second collection of poetry reckons with the themes that iconic structure brings to mind: achievements of architecture and engineering, spectacles of violence, lost empires and forgotten gods. Opening with the author's birth amidst the fall of Saigon and civil war in Beirut, the book travels backward and forward through historical destructions, biblical floods and Ford's own firsthand account of the devastation of New Orleans by Katrina. Faced with the unstoppable storm and the rising waters, she writes: “We will be overcome by waters/ where I stand with my lanterns and cans,/ my useless preparations and provisions,/ with the God I loved, I hated, and you.” Considering the sum of all these ruins—the human achievement of which they are the shadow—the author continually reckons with meaning and interrogates her own faith; she pleads: “Something please tell me I'm wrong/ about impermanence,/ wrong there is no unbroken believable thing/ on this earth.” Moving through the Colosseum in Rome, to the Duomo in Florence, to the Louisiana Superdome, Ford shows impressive restraint in reconciling the vast accomplishments and devastations of history, creating an enduring collection of quiet and powerful elegies. (June)

Reviewed on: 06/16/2008
Release date: 05/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
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