cover image Night


Etel Adnan. Nightboat (UPNE, dist.), $12.95 trade paper (64p) ISBN 978-1-937658-53-3

Renowned Lebanese-American writer Adnan (To Look at the Sea Is to Become What One Is) maps consciousness in a book-length poem that explores night in all its permutations. Though she is more elliptical and fragmentary here—and less narrative-driven or referential—than in previous work, these poems engage in a daring, meditative exploration of perception and her own experiences. Adnan does this with a courageous interiority that becomes universal as the text unfolds. Memory is a particularly notable leitmotif as it relates to identity, whether personal or collective. “I measure my memory of things, but not memory itself, as the present is also overflowing,” she writes. These internal and societal memories lend themselves to queries about history, landscape, and the nature of consciousness. Adnan posits that memory is not a “storage room. It’s not a tool for being able to think, it’s thinking, before thinking.” As the book progresses, memory becomes increasingly knotted with loss and mortality: “It was said that people mattered, which we did, and they lost their shine.” Adnan never provides clear answers, but this prevents her wide-ranging assertions from becoming didactic; her evocative imagery and interwoven repetitions serve to create another memory—one that will linger with the reader long after the text’s conclusion. (Sept.)