Poetry, Fiction, and Memoirs
by Leading Writers
from throughout the World
I would call these dry-eyed, uncompromising poems dark, but they are shot through with light: the lay-everything-bare fluorescent light of hospitals, the cold clarity of winter mornings, the revealing flash of photography. (This collection contains one of the only successful poems I have seen to come out of the onslaught of images from the Iraq War, “Abu Ghraib Suggests the Isenheim Altarpiece.”) While never flinching or turning away from the unsightly decrepitude of our mortality, Murawski with her poet’s eye can also transform an aging mother scrubbing a Corningware coffee pot into a sun-flooded masterpiece by Vermeer. Among the out-patients here—the sufferers and caregivers, the dead and their survivors—we meet prodigal sons, snake handlers, “a Palestinian St. Joan,” widowers and would-be suicides, and Keats himself, slowly drowning of tuberculosis in a room in Rome whose gilded ceiling is carved with daisies. Murawski works in a hard-won, spare and nimble free verse, but also writes a mean sonnet (as the Keats-answering, “Darien.”) Against the frailty of the body, she posits the stubborn strength of the spirit: “We push back death/ like a cowlick/ hoping it will hold/ for the time being.”
A.E. Stallings Elisabeth Murowski’s poems find their way into unexpected, inexplicable rooms where what you thought you knew has left directions for its burial. She is a lyric compressionist of the first order and full of dark surprises.
Boldly, Murawski begins at the point of crisis and allows it to be a place of clearing. There is renewal to be found in these pages. Murawski has us looking in on patients, seeing them in sharper relief than we might have before. Suffering is Murawski’s subject of choice, but she understands it to be multi-faceted and emotionally polymorphous. In weakness, Murawski finds the opportunity for meditation.
Information about the Author