Saint Torch: New and Selected Poems

Emily Fragos. Sheep Meadow, $21.95 trade paper (60p) ISBN 978-1-937679-76-7
Poet and editor Fragos fearlessly explores the body’s response to a literal and figurative winter in her latest collection, which features selected works from her previous books. Settings vary from a hospital’s “antiseptic rooms” and “pill-clicking/ halls” to the South Pole’s snowdrifts. Ease of diction allows Fragos to articulate complex thoughts and feelings surrounding mental illness, aging, and death with startling vigor. There are few consolations here besides art, though there are moments of warmth, respite, and grace: “As when icy illness ends that you never expected/ Could possibly end, and the terrified body, enveloped/ In warm water, reposes, you could kiss every child on the hand,/ Every leaf in the forest, every stone of the wall.” Fragos tends towards ekphrasia, writing poems after Albrecht Dürer, Francisco Goya, as well as pieces in conversations with the works of the writer Robert Walser and the outsider artist Emma Hauck. The book is at its best when Fragos seems to be searching relentlessly for life, God, and art on her own terms entirely: “wherever you are if I write you a letter/I’ll get no answer if I cry out to you to come in my final/ hour you will not come but I will still look for you.” (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/16/2017
Release date: 11/01/2017
Genre: Fiction
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