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Handwritingby Michael Ondaatje
Synopses & Reviews
Handwriting is Michael Ondaatje's first new book of poetry since The Cinnamon Peeler. It is a collection of exquisitely crafted poems of delicacy and power--poems about love, landscape, and the sweep of history set in the poet's first home, Sri Lanka. The falling away of culture is juxtaposed with an individual's sense of loss, grief, and remembrance, as Ondaatje weaves a rich tapestry of images--the unburial of stone Buddhas, a family of stilt-walkers crossing a field, the pattern of teeth marks on skin drawn by a monk from memory.
And, like the poets who "wrote their stories on rock and leaf / to celebrate the work of the day, / the shadow pleasures of the night," in these poems Ondaatje writes of desire and longing, the curve of a bridge against a woman's foot, the figure of a man walking through a rainstorm to a tryst. Handwriting is a poetic achievement by a writer at the height of his creative powers. In it, we are reminded once again of Michael Ondaatje's unique artistry with language and of his stature as one of the finest poets writing today.
"His thrilling poems read like exquisite, unwritten Ondaatje novels." The Independent
"A breathtaking collection....If you're going to buy one book this year, buy this one. Ten years from now you'll still be reading it with pleasure." Sam Solecki, Books in Canada
"Michael Ondaatje's poems read with the same whimsical precision and authority one finds in his prose. He is the most sensibly ironic writer I've read in years, and the most generously disposed. Would that all worlds were this deftly attended." Robert Creeley
"Tumultuous, vibrant, tragic and over too soon." --Newsday
Handwriting is Michael Ondaatje's first new book of poetry since The Cinnamon Peeler. The exquisite poems collected here draw on history, mythology, landscape, and personal memories to weave a rich tapestry of images that reveal the longing for--and expose the anguish over--lost loves, homes, and language, as the poet contemplates scents and gestures and evokes a time when "handwriting occurred on waves, / on leaves, the scripts of smoke" and remembers a woman's "laughter with its / intake of breath. Uhh huh."
Crafted with lyrical delicacy and seductive power, Handwriting reminds us of Michael Ondaatje's stature as one of the finest poets writing today.
About the Author
Michael Ondaatje is the author of three previous novels, a memoir and eleven books of poetry. His novel The English Patient won the Booker Prize. Born in Sri Lanka, he moved to Canada in 1962 and now lives in Toronto.
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