Friday, October 14, 2011

A recent review of Dr. Rathbun's Afterglow

A Monthly Feature of New Poetry Books

Alberto Blanco is one of the more prominent poets emerging in Mexico, after the Octavio Paz era, since the 1950’s. Afterglow is his twenty-eight published book of poems, along with dozens of essays, translations and children’s books. Jennifer Rathbun, accomplished in the field of Latin American Literature, translates from Spanish.  The trick for a translator is to keep the melody and not miss the harmony. Perhaps because Blanco was a chemist by profession, he has a passion for precision and order. Craft is the cage that holds his huge existential themes. We’d be lost without Blanco’s careful cadence and supreme control of the line. His poetry is an unending silver ribbon of thought, sometimes appearing without premeditated unity or symmetry, but once assembled, the poems are perfect performances on the page. These poems tackle meditations on the biggest issues of love, life, death and make it all new. I’m grateful when ordinary words, world weary, are dazzled into a new order.

SQUARE ROOT OF TWO                               

When lightning arrives

enchantment ends

and time commences.

When time arrives

concentration concludes

and the couple begins.

When the couple arrives

duration ends

and harvest commences.

When autumn arrives

harvest concludes

and knowledge begins.

and the second poem in an 18 part section titled “Cages of Creation:”


Moon, crystal of melodic embassies,

in the dripping net of this mirror

its poplars the bridge buttons.

With direct help from mercury,

with the white shadow of he who ignores

the symmetric amalgam of birth

causal limits break.

It is the constant weight of days,
the alliance of love and its bite.

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