to afar from afar
Author: Soham Patel
Publisher: Writ Large Press (2018)
This collection hinges on the image of a globe. Composed as three long poems in the second person interrupted by a visual fragmented movement. The modes of address (to afar/from afar) are informed by distances made by war and globalization. With collage, maps, lyric nonfictions, storytelling, chants, sonnets, treated screenshots, a sestina, and new family pictures of old places—this book addresses displacement, memory and the darkness and light they bring.
“to afar from afar contains deft poems that are full of fact, tumult, and the wisdom of the sharp-eyed narrator. Poems which investigate how “Songs try / To put us to sleep / But we were never tired’ . . . with their emphatic human turn to the cousin-brothers, cousin-sisters, and the familial that sleep nearby to the narrator, to the speaker, and who ‘stretch and sweat and swat the air by your ears.’ These poems linger by your ears and your squints. They are at first modest and then spit truths. They decipher how ‘landscapes dwell here in permanent recall.’ They abject and object. I am taken by Patel’s cadence as its own ‘acoustic creature’ and am haunted by the bodies, figures, violence and speech that push for intensity through the pronouns and their ‘dictator’s face.’ These are tremendous dream-poems that attend to tradition, cultural idioms, and a sorting through of centuries of superstition and disillusionment.”
“Qualities of time and space haunt any effort to look back into the past to make a meaningful now. These shards of memory-lyrics resonate with the fullness only sparseness can ever approach. Patel’s mind mines spacetime and shows that any present, any ‘now’ is always ‘mixed with always.’”