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Edizioni L’Obliquo © 2009, 63 pgs. ISBN 88-88845-75-3


A Review by Sabine Pascarelli

“Why taint my Porthault sheets
with Everyday, with cracker crumbs
or meaningless inkspots, the joyless stains
of solitary sweat?”

These are the first lines of the first poem with the title Ars Poetica in Moira Egan’s bilingual (English-Italian) collection of love poems, many of them written in the first person. What captured me from the first words on, is Egan’s distinctive mix of directness and subtle irony, nothing remains unsaid, and I could not stop reading until the last lines of the last poem,

Notes on a Portion:

“…Salt, sweet, water,
there are things I have grown used to
needing, but never grow used to: his arms
warm around me, the long migration home.”

In between this significant frame Egan tempts us with tough, tender and juicy episodes all around love, each poem a different story. Or do we get only a different point of view, a different nuance of always the same story? How many stories can be told in the name of love?

We can not deny that it needs a profound knowledge of the nature of man, based on a profound observation, worth of a true poet. And, as a poet, Moira does never separate her poet soul from her relationship with a man:

(from Love and Death) …

“And it was, after all, the pure white sex
between us that drove me to poetry.
How else to express the brazen philosophy,
the teleology of flesh beyond love,
the ontology of sex that can lead to death?

… When we last made love, you left another
scar. And philosophy feels like death to me,
and I can’t find any poetry in sex.”

There is a woman’s sensibility in the core of these poems, attracting us into the vortex of the immortal, eternally repeating and yet always different features love assumes between lovers, the finding and loosing of it, enjoying it, struggling with it, suffering for it, but never ever denying it. Her tale is one of both, innocence and experience.

I found the title “The Silk of the Tie” perfect for this collection. It surrounds the words with a halo of finest irony and charm, elegantly displayed in the poem Double Bass Envy:

“I watch him at rest,
the man who plays the double bass,
how he drapes himself around her
(surely, it’s a she), casual as the lover
adjusting a sweater on the shoulders
of the Beloved.…

…Strong and long
he plucks the low C open
and every woman in the audience
loses her innocence.”

Her energetic, sensual language explores the intimacies between lovers and displays masterly Egan’s emotional range. It is a frank appraisal of love with its inherent combustible loneliness and untenable passion.

While writing the life, the poet reveals secrets between the shards and fragments of experience a woman and a man may deal with in any place and time, at the presence of love in which poetic reflection is possible.

Let me spend some words of praise also for the translation by Damiano Abeni. Having a perfect knowledge of the Italian language and translating myself I could fully enjoy the reading of the poems in both languages – which is a mere pleasure in case of such a wonderful translation. The translator even captured the double senses and transported them masterly into the Italian – which is not often to be seen. This is surely the result of a close collaboration between the poet and the translator, in this special case the husband of the poet.

Here a final poem from The Silk of the Tie, pg. 46 :

At 3 A.M.

And when my cell phone vibrates in the dark,
its alien green eye blinking me awake,
I hardly start. My past, both near and far,
at these hours never lets me get away.

He’s drunk and lonely, wants to hear my voice,
although I’m guessing he could wake his wife
and do to her in person what he enjoys
explaining he would like to do to me. Night

can come on heavy, I’m first to admit,
the sheets twisted around you like a noose.
But I’m getting too old for this late-night shit
and being his 1-900 number muse.

I tell him I can’t talk; I’m not alone.
Truth is, these nights I’m sleeping with my poems.

Sabine Pascarelli grew up in Germany, she lives and works in Tuscany, Italy. She is an award winning poet and translator for Italian, German and English. Her poems are published in English and Italian Anthologies and literary reviews, between her translations figure “The Alchemy of Grief”, by Emily Ferrara and winner of the Bordighera Poetry Prize, “The Poet’s Cookbook”, which she co-authored also, and “Republic”, poems by J.H. Beall, to be published in 2010.
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