Author: Brian Komei Dempster
Publisher: Four Way Books (2020)
Seize, Brian Komei Dempster’s follow-up to Topaz, spares no one the highs and lows of fatherhood. The speaker struggles to care for his young and ailing child—a child whose many medical problems create an obstacle course of moral and emotional dilemmas. How does a father come to terms with the large and unknowable mysteries of a child who cannot communicate in a “normative” way? How does a parent—especially one who is dependent on language—guide a child without the use of speech? And how does one become the parent of another when their own uncertainties, their own wounds—intergenerationally from war, from strained race relations, from constantly being denied a place to belong—are still healing?
“Brian Komei Dempster’s central subject—his son’s epilepsy—could not be more freighted with risk, and yet Seize achieves a pitch-perfect harmony of lament and praise, suffering and solace. At its heart is the child Brendan—‘his head, a sunflower / too heavy / on its stem’—and a father’s searingly honest account of what it means to love him, ‘A gold knot / of shadow and light.’ This is a stunning heartbreaker of a book.”
“The human body, simultaneously an instance of a promise and the site of trauma and a promise broken, is the boundless occasion of these rich and engaging poems. I love most about them the music of thinking in images, how it encompasses feeling and singing, ranging from the raw and open to the exquisite and philosophical. There is so much yearning in these poems, and so much rejoicing, and wondering out loud about the meaning of our time on earth, especially in the face of pain and suffering.”