cover image Shifting the Silence

Shifting the Silence

Etel Adnan. Nightboat, $14.95 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-64362-030-5

“I am not in a hurry to live, am not in a hurry to die, but just talking to you,” Adnan (Seasons) admits in her musing and reflective collection about life at 95. Her conversation with the reader covers history, personal recollections, philosophy, mythology, love, and war, with the breadth and generosity of a period in her life in which she claims she has “more memories than yearnings.” Here, sorrow is illuminated by a buoyant honesty. “The pain of dying,” Adnan writes, “is going to be the impossibility of visiting.” Life is revisited again and again in these pages; old friends are named, places from Mount Shasta to Paris are explored, and final hopes are offered (“I dream of a room with no furniture, of a past with very few friends, of a country with no weapons”). Each paragraph in these prose poems pushes against the idea that there is “no resolution to somebody’s final absence.” “I’m telling you:” she writes, “we’re carried by tornadoes we barely notice, whirlwinds we barely feel, aggressions we barely acknowledge, because we’re half awake.” This memorable collection continues Adnan’s legacy as a poet of the personal, political, and cosmic. (Oct.)