THE BAG of BROKEN GLASS
Poems / Yerra Sugarman
Can be purchased here:
University Press of New England
The Sheep Meadow Press
From the National Book Critics Circle Good Reads Discussion
at Canio's Bookstore, Sag Harbor, February 16, 2008
(click on link)
And Grace Schulman's Text at the NBCC Good Reads Discussion:
"The Bag of Broken Glass, by Yerra Sugarman (Sheep Meadow). This is the second book by a remarkable poet, daughter of Shoah survivors, and poetic heir to Paul Celan and Nelly Sachs. Sugarman is, though, a startling originality. Most striking is what is unsaid: She writes profoundly of grief and loss, her silences evoking tragedies of history that are simultaneously personal and universal, affecting us with her music, lyrical tone, and mastery of form."
From the back of the book:
"The prize-winning selection, a 'day' from Yerra Sugarman's 'Journal: Rai'ut Coma Ward, Tel Aviv-Yaffo, July 2003,' begins with the question, 'What to call it...' and ends with a related, apposite question:
But what happens
when language can no longer bear us?
The poem articulates grief and loss by indirection, accumulating sharply etched details of the quotidian to evoke absence and silence; to evoke, in other words, the unsayable. The darkness of the confrontation and its final cri de coeur stand in paradoxical balance with a poetic language almost overcharged in its sensuous appeal. 'Light' forms the leitmotif, 'light that prisms,' 'lunatic light,' 'light's gauze,' 'light's indifferent ardor,' 'Light its own architect,' and the poet's sentences are ultimately called upon to 'be luminous' that is, to cast light upon both the past and the dark of the 'wounded days.' The free-verse lines are deployed with great skill, and the lyric-elegiac tone eloquently encounters the dust storm (sand storm?) of history."
Awarding Yerra Sugarman the Poetry
Society of America's 2007 Cecil Hemley Memorial Award
can be purchased at Amazon,
The Sheep Meadow Press,
and The University Press of New England websites
* * *
From Midwest Book Review: The Bag of Broken Glass
and from New Works Review: http://www.new-works.org/johnson.html
The Bag of Broken Glass
The Sheep Meadow Press
P.O. Box 1345, Riverdale NY 10471
(Review by Laurel Johnson: "Laurel's Bookshelf") http://www.midwestbookreview.com/mbw/jun_08.htm#laurel
Yerra Sugarman is an award-winning poet whose work has been featured in numerous journals and publications. Her work here is reminiscent of an Old Testament psalmist, giving voice to the dark peripheries and wounds of life with lyrical grace and quiet elegance. Through skillful poetic forms and simple words, she creates powerful moments in time. Whether inhabiting the ancient past, detailing a troubling presence, or looking to an unknown future, she speaks with a universal voice.
"Through the Portholes of the Eyes" expresses eloquently the grief and fear of watching her dying mother prepare for the end of life:
But I could no more unclench
my stare from her being
than untangle my fear
that in dying
she was also forgetting
In "My Bag of Broken Glass" the poet contemplates Poland of 1939 and Canada in 1978. These two excerpts from that poem reflect the stunning clarity and beauty of Sugarman's memories of fear and death in Poland, love and survival in Canada:
Beneath the blood bitter moments,
are there only blowing voids or brittle essentials?
Words fall like long hairs on her mind's floor.
Images get caught in memory's teeth.
Surgarman entwines an individual sorrow with the universal in "Journal: Rai'ut Coma Ward, Tel Aviv-Yaffo, July 2003." Her mother's youngest sister languishes there in an unconscious state:
To connect the body's pain
with the pain of the body's world
like the hand's double,
its shadow on a leaf
of paper in this coma room's caul of light --
But you don't wonder who tenders
the bitter or who measures
the weeping and the ravaged. History bears you
in its unconsummated peace
where it always stops
and you retreat
from the world not knowing
your history or yourself.
In "Sacred are the Broken" the poet memorializes the legacy of Ruth Apteker, a half-Jewish, half-German woman whose greatest accomplishments and possessions were resurrected from a dumpster:
The body can die alone on an uptown stoop,
seeking refuge from its bug-filled studio.
And the damned, duplicitous mist
will weave a pall from its once soft cloak.
You see how we're born:
solitary, dying, holy, broken.
And sacred are the broken, the inconstant,
the distracted genius, curmudgeon, refugee,
and the one who would offer an only pair of good shoes to a victim of fire.
Critics have described the poetry in this book as invaluable, extraordinary, eloquent, luminous and masterful. Such praise is understatement. The Bag of Broken Glass has my highest recommendation.
EVENTS AT AWP 2008:
publisher Stanley Moss, will read from some of their recent works. Poets
will include John Ashbery reading his translations of the great, recently
deceased, French poet Pierre Martory, Christopher Bakken, Suzanne Gardinier,
Hermine Pinson, and Yerra Sugarman
contemporary poets? Exploring its versatility, its capacity to encompass
diverse forms, cultures and concerns--aesthetic, narrative, historical--we
will consider how it can reveal and unify unexpected relationships between
just a few parts, a long poem or throughout a verse novel. We will examine
its vitality since the advent of Modernism and how it can freshly meld
techniques of reportage, film, art, drama, music and the web.