REVIEW: Translations on Waking in an Italian Cemetary by Michael Keenan

THE VOLTA BLOG

61fuedos7jl-_sx331_bo1204203200_by Dong Li

In this spellbinding debut, Michael Keenan dips in the heart blood and paints a swift scroll of fleeting names. Lean and lovingly delicate, like the poet himself, these poems tend to have titles longer than a line, which slowly draw out their short echoing bodies. The line-ends may remind us of the one-eyed Robert Creeley, whose seemingly abrupt enjambment estranges the text as words break apart and breath stumbles.Often,the parting of words and breaking of breath happen in those secrete places or gap gardens whose deep songs no one else hears. As with Creeley, it is the “unseen birds in simple flight” that the poet sees: Lotte’s maple blossoms, Paula’s lime gardens, Anna in the hallway, Ballerina in the elm. The list goes on, indeed a “pine-forest-frenzy, coming/full-on-night.” Taking its…

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