Synopses & Reviews
Following her latest book, What Becomes You, a memoir co-written with her transgendered son Aaron, Hilda Raz's new collection of poems is an exploration of lives and selves transformed by choice and by chance. Formally and thematically diverse, these poems are testament to the will to redefine oneself in a world of constant, and often painful, change. Beginning intimately with poems of personal examination and moving gradually to the world of shared experience, Raz rethinks the structures of family and community while examining the impact of loss and growth. All Odd and Splendid takes its title from a quotation attributed to Diane Arbus, the American photographer known for her portraits. Raz's poems share Arbus's steadfast celebration of the strangeness in the ordinary, bringing us into contact with a beauty and pain that are inseparable when we see things as they truly are.
"Raz's sixth collection of poems takes its title and section names from its Diane Arbus epigraph, using the late photographer's fascination with the 'especial shape we come in' to frame her own quiet meditations on form. She studies poetic structure (the book includes a villanelle, a poem called 'Terza Rima,' a Ghazal), as well as the forms of relationships and the unsaid things that mold them: 'Sacrifice can have no meaning if the witness turns away.' As the parent of a transgendered child, Raz (TRANS) considers the shifting nature of motherhood and gender, letting it thoroughly permeate her work ('The especial shape we come in/ is insufficient, says the child/ come slippery from the body/ of another especial shape that comes in/ the shape of its mother'). While the weight of her prosy and contemplative style can at times flatten her insights, Raz's intense focus on the domestic and familiar more often yields observations that are paradoxically surprising: 'What means all this?// Nothing, says the red bird on the branch/ darning winter out of the nest, Damn nothing.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Intimate new poems from an important contemporary voice