Synopses & Reviews
At the heart of Gail Mazur's The Common
is the refusal to simplify what is paradoxical in our world and a recognition of the tensions in our own divided nature. These unflinching poems create a place where wisdom and foolishness, fear and courage, rage and pity, love and diffidence, naturally co-exist.
Desire, ambition, devotion, and devastating loss are all subjects for Mazur's clear-eyed poems, which resonate with the contradictions between the body's yearning and the mind's acknowledgment of the consequences of our choices. In a poetry driven by unrelenting questioning, Mazur tries, in Rilke's worlds, "to love the questions themselves."
AcknowledgmentsTwo Worlds: A BridgeThe AcornI'm a Stranger Here MyselfMensch in the MorningIn HoustonWhatever They WantDesireBedroom at ArlesPoem for Christian, My StudentMay, Home after a Year AwayBluebonnetsFracture Santa MonicaThe Idea of Florida During a Winter ThawSnake in the GrassBlueWhy You TravelAfter the Storm, AugustA Green Watering CanMaternalWare's CoveIceTracesPhonicPennies from HeavenAnother TreeRevenantYahrzeitFamily PlotFoliageThe CommonAt Boston Garden, the First Night of War, 1991Poem Ending with Three Lines of Wordsworth'sLilacs on Brattle StreetA Small Plane from Boston to Montpelier
Continues to tell the passionate truth about herself and life in beautifully made poems. They are the work of a mature, deeply engaged, and productive artist.
In Forbidden City, Gail Mazur weaves together art and elegy, East and West, to create another masterfully constructed, award-worthy book of poems. Her last book in the series, Figures in a Landscape, ostensibly an homage to her late husband, the artist Michael Mazur, was not just a chronicle of the artist’s approaching death, but took particulars from their shared life, as if viewed from afar, to create a sense of radiance and exhilaration of a long life of companionship, even as Mazur dealt with her impending grief—hence the book’s title. In this new book, Mazur goes even further, as she examines the relation between art and life (”ars longa, vita brevis,” the Latin inversion of the famous aphorism from Hippocrates) more broadly, rising above the sadness of her earlier book to build, as one of our readers said, “a meditative structure, contemplating the relation of art and life, and the limitations and possibilities of each and their combination.” The poems in Forbidden City are “whimsical and laughing,” “poignant” in their “absurdity,” as the reader says, and the book contains “the theme of grief without ever sounding merely aggrieved.”
Table of Contents
Late at Night
Believe That Even in My Deliberateness I Was Not Deliberate
At Dusk, in the Yard
We Swam to an Island of Bees
Ou Sont Les Neiges D’Antan
On Jane Cooper’s “The Green Notebook”
Instance of Me
To the Charles River
July Saturday Night
The Self in Search of the Sublime