cover image Octobers


Sahar Muradi. Univ. of Pittsburgh, $18 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-0-8229-6708-8

Afghan American poet Muradi (A Ritual in X Movements) affectingly chronicles four Octobers that altered her life in this elegiac and exceptionally quotable collection. War, displacement, alienation, identity, and family are among the primary motifs in these linguistically intricate poems. Muradi illustrates the vertiginous depersonalization that arises from psychological confinement: “seized as by smoke. morning, night. the mean carousel. the going nowhere. i am a fly to/ my own mind.” Romance is exquisitely rendered with kinetic urgency: “The silver warrant of your eyes/ Two mountains breaking words/ I would meet you in a fold of desire the sound of a skyline/ reddening.” Ruminating on inadequacy and impermanence, Muradi feels “embarrassed of my lines that grow out of ether/ and die in ether.” She sardonically alludes to the American dream (“Welcome. Language laughs back”; “Had freedom not meant becoming a dog to new/ masters”) and reminisces on the trials of early motherhood (“The ‘witching hour’ is apparently the baby’s effort to process the day’s/ information”). Muradi delivers proverbial insights and robust metaphors with mellifluous agility. (Oct.)

Correction: An earlier version of this review transposed the author’s first and last names.