I'm grateful for this review of COMPREHENDING MORTALITY, my collaboration with John Bloomberg-Rissman. My muse for it is my beloved dog Achilles, which is why I post his photo above. Anyway, you can see Neil Leadbeater's review HERE, but here's an excerpt:
The poems and prose poems that make up this collection may appear on the surface to be diverse but there is much that connects them together. References to space (the sky, galaxies, the universe), physics and science—in particular radiation (Fukushima, black cones), mathematics (measurement, intuitionist mathematics), jazz (Misha Mengelberg, Eric Dolphy, Han Bennink and Nathaniel Mackey’s Bass Cathedral), human rights (Berta Cáceres), journeys (Katsumi Omori: “I must go to Fukushima,” Charles Darwin’s journey on H.M. S. Beagle, our own journey through life), grief (Pushkin grieving for Beauty, the Hondurans for Berta Cáceres, Tabios for her beloved dog and compassion (a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all the Buddhas) are the main threads which piece this tapestry together.
Even though all twelve of the lines [plus one symbol] from the original poem in Hiraeth are quoted in bold print, four of them [plus that one symbol] remain freestanding. With lines like Absence is a singe and But love is also / a source of difficulty words may not be adequate to express the depth of emotion that these lines convey. It is enough to leave them be.
The reviewer is also adept enough to note the cover image, and says:
Comprehending Mortality—a title which calls to mind Wordsworth’s ode Intimations of Immortality (written from a somewhat different perspective)—is a sustained reflection on the state of being subject to death. The cover art of a bronze object “Owl on a Frog” [ca. 1620] cast in Austria but housed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection, 1982, is a fitting illustration of how frogs fall prey to owls and how death comes to all of us at the end of our lives.
In the end it is our fragility and the vulnerability of our planet that is our Achilles heel. We need that encaustic—that preservative wax—to protect the fragility of paper.