Twice There Was a Country

Alen Hamza. Cleveland State Univ., $18 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-880834-80-0
Language, family, love, politics, and displacement are the primary subjects of Hamza’s elegantly terse and perceptive debut. Within these poems lies nostalgia for the emotional and physical terrain of Hamza’s childhood in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as for the fleeting present. He addresses this feeling obliquely, but also directly through droll sentiment: “Nostalgia is taking less and less time to appear./ I’m nostalgic for things I did last month./ At night I sigh about the morning. Do you think/ that would be a good placard to bring to a rally/ about health-insurance reform?” He celebrates inevitable futility and embraces the myths one cultivates in search of inner peace: “I too// poke life in situations of constraint and extract/ the juices. Life is not a steak, nor is devotion/ to breadth a sexy quality in a thinking creature,/ yet this knowledge helps the way vinegar/ applied to feet reduced childhood fevers.” His refreshing pithiness is met with lyricism and wordplay that evokes both whimsy and vulnerability. This collection is a kaleidoscope of imagery and innovative adages that leave the reader with a sense that despite the unforgiving nature of time, this is a world rife with humble wonders. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 10/15/2020
Release date: 10/01/2020
Genre: Poetry
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