Red Zone

Red Zone

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Author: Beatrice Szymkowiak

Publisher: Finishing Line Press (2018)

“Before the shrapnel, before the night in hell on the way to hell, and after that night, too, we were: ‘naming the woods.’ RED ZONE does a lot of things, but it also draws our eyes to the risk of our own departure. Description, sure. Timing, of course. But cognition and argument also? Szymkowiak makes me want to read more.”

–Joan Naviyuk Kane

“In a complex meditation on the destructiveness of war and the persistence of nature, poet Beatrice Szymkowiak explores France’s Zone Rouge, the area so devastated by war that people are still forbidden to enter, where things still blossom and explode. Where 'crows burst' above the land of 'unexploded explosives.' Where 'slow soil & / shrapnel' yield to 'a murmurration of starlings.' In the long poem 'Fleury-Devant-Douaumont,' the page itself becomes the zone, mined & grenaded & shrapnelled by words, words that begin to merge, becoming neologisms of compost—'betweenroots,' 'shrapnelspades,' 'inboots.' In the end, despite human interventions, 'yellow-bellied toads frogs salamanders / crested newts thrive' and 'corpses tuber / into russets.' Szymkowiak has written a crucial book, especially critical as the entire globe quickly becomes a Red Zone.”

–Jon Davis