Shadow Architect

Emily Warn, Author . Copper Canyon $15 (139p) ISBN 978-1-55659-277-5

Warn's third collection is organized around the Hebrew alphabet: each of its 22 sections corresponds to a Hebrew letter and consists of one short poem, one longer poem, one prose poem and a trio of quotations (from Rabbinical writers, Asian religious texts or secular literature). Warn's clear, inviting lines draw on the shapes of the letters, the Hebrew words that contain them, their significance in Jewish mysticism, and the connections Warn finds in Jewish history, from the Bible to the present day. The resulting poems are occasionally too clear for their own good, but they often find inspiration in “the primordial living Torah, circulating in the letters/ as trees circulate light.” Examining the letter Yud—which sounds like a Y and looks like a hovering comma, and whose name means “hand,” as in “hand of God”—Warn imagines “a prayer book and a clock/ which wait with you until dawn// to help you wrestle the dark/ back into God's other hand.” Mostly, Warn has created a serious meditation on Jewish prayer and cosmogony, in lyrical prose and in accessible verse, a book that belongs not only on poetry shelves, but amid other Judaica and books of prose and verse on religious themes. (June)

Reviewed on: 06/16/2008
Release date: 07/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
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