'Say So' is exciting volume of cutting-edge poetry

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The misuse and deliberate fabrication of truth in wording by politicians, corporations, and any other entity that manipulates our language for profit, purposefully and systematically disempowers the language we speak, communicate with, and write, through deception and a generalized breakdown of meaning. It falls on the poets to maintain the integrity and power and the beauty of our language through authentic and innovative voices, a higher sustenance of meaning, and excellence of expression. Poet, Dora Malech, current Amy Clampitt Fellow in Lenox, has answered the call.

Malech's verse is cutting edge contemporary poetry, work that extends beyond any political boundaries. These poems are about the modern world, the experience of living, family, and navigating political and social issues in their elemental forms. This is poetry that will stand up in any translation. It is the poetry of universal themes and talk.

These poems take words to the edge of the edge and off the edge, into meanings we already knew, and sometimes find again with a new resilience. It is rich with the care and curiosity about how these words fly and where they can go. Author of a previous volume, "Shore Ordered Ocean" and the upcoming title, "Flourish," from Carnegie Mellon University Press, Malech is assistant professor of poetry, The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, and the current Amy Clampitt House Resident, and author of this, her exciting new volume of poetry, "Say So."

Good contemporary poetry makes words pop crisply, opening meanings and possibilities, thus providing fresh experience as does any new art that transforms our lives with truth. Read these lines from the poem, "Director's Cut":

"Opening shot: morning. Mid-May. Mid-maybe, /misgiving, mistake, mid-take your time repeating after me, / so long, so longing, lost and short of breath."

Poetry like this is news about how we think, feel, and say what's on our minds, and what's on our minds is language, as in these lines that start the poem, "God Bless Our Mess":

"Day by day, the days dissolved into the simplest of cross-stitched requests.

The sky let herself go — a fistful of sleet, a leftover moon.


Looking down became a hobby which payed off the morning when I found

an unmarked house key and a poorly molded plastic soldier."


All the poems in this book hold the rhythmic cadences of a uniquely natural voice layering out metaphor with an authentic ease, born in the conscious expression of real clarity of observation. The poems flow with a happenstance quality of relationships between objects, nature and people. Just as it happens to us all in our walk through any given day. They inhabit the mind's innocent encounters with wording for how we truly express experience.

Colin Harrington is the events manager at The Bookstore & Get Lit Wine Bar in Lenox, Mass. He welcomes reader comments at charrington686@gmail.com

READ IT

'Say So'

By Dora Malech

Publisher: Cleveland State University Poetry Center

77 Pages


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