Mothers over Nangarhar

Pamela Hart. Sarabande, $15.95 (96p) ISBN 978-1-9464-4826-2
Rich with literary, political, and geographical references, Hart’s debut collection details the journey of a mother whose son is serving in Afghanistan. The five-part book weaves prose poems, a sestina, and a landay (a Pashtun folk form) alongside free verse. The speaker, who “read[s] history/ to ward off unknowns,” remembers too that her “son’s first gun was a dinosaur.” In “Praise Song” she invokes Homer, but keeps the reader in the present: “I sing of your boots caked/ In clay rough with hours// of the IED you don’t step/ On and the dog who finds it.” The speaker visits a shooting range (“To know what you know I load/ seventeen hollow-point// bullets to nest/ in the chamber”) and reads Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Hart gives voice to Thetis (Achilles’ nymph mother), a detainee in Guantánamo, and a young girl who visits her former-soldier father in jail. Glenn Gould, Emily Dickinson, and Picasso appear alongside “Grace,” “Joanie,” and “Mary Jane,” women who are mothers or wives of soldiers. Hart’s drive to keep looking and listening while “the long war goes on” reads like a fundamental act of compassion. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 01/17/2019
Release date: 01/01/2019
Genre: Poetry
Ebook - 978-1-946448-27-9
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