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The Field, Poems by Rhina P. Espaillat
The piercing meters and rhymes of Rhina P. Espaillat's The Field evoke the world in sharp, etched relief-its scenes and lives, its emotions and memories.
"No words of mine will do justice to The Field, Rhina P. Espaillat's new collection of poems. But, by good luck, a phrase in one of her poems, 'A Spanish Galleon Contemplates the Future', happens to say it for me: 'the words are jewels arrayed . . .' I could just end my remarks right there.
As the title promises, The Field takes us into the natural world; the vehicle we travel in is Espaillat's 3-D language. She shows us 'pools wearing only sky', 'clouds foaming around the sun,' the 'crystal tears' of icicles, 'roots like a clot of veins, a brooding varicosity.' A head of lettuce 'suggests a closer kinship with the rose, whose open heart remembers how to close.' Spanish names are coins 'unwilling to be melted and reminted' into Americanized forms. And we visit other territory-debates, for example, about the behavior of a hypothetical deity (not to mention his existence).
Espaillat's poems often sound like conversation, where her ear is most at home and where we feel like participants in the discussion. A few overheard words might launch her, say, on a 14-line verbal journey. But whatever the form of the poem, we accompany her; and even if she takes us somewhere bleak, the scenery of wit and words makes sense of the places we run across." -Deborah Warren
"Rhina Espaillat's poems never bask and never preen. They do not wander or maunder. Free-spirited creatures, they go vigorously on their way and invite readers to hold on for the ride - to a destination that is obvious only when it has been reached and then proves illuminating. Along the way we scarcely notice the poet's small acts of legerdemain, how she gives what might have been a bland phrase an electric charge in 'words that threaten to be spoken.' Or how she compels our attention (and reflection) when she notes that Eve, outcast from Eden, has 'fallen free.' These poems come in clusters reflecting the poet's major concerns: poetry itself; speculations on matters of faith; nature and the human urge to make sense of it; the convergence (and sometimes clash) of cultures that form our past, present, and likely future; and random observations or, as the poet herself puts it, idle comments - though they're hardly idle; some of them are poignant, some piercing. All will stay in the mind and beckon to be reread and resaid."-Jan Schreiber
ISBN: 978-1625493057, 110 pages, $19.00