In the poem that opens this, his ninth collection, one of our most celebrated men of letters contemplates the "primordial tensions" felt in the crashing waves of a Northeaster, the glory and terror of the storm as "the real comes crashing finally down on you." Contemplating as we all must the unrelenting passing of time and the harsh realities of history, Paul Mariani embodies the filmmaker Akira Kurosawa's dictum that "the artist is the one who does not look away."
In the face of pandemics, wars, and the open wound of racism, the poet continues his search for those artists, activists, writers, and saints who can guide us through the wilderness and help us preserve the hope that all things can be made new.
Whether he is contemplating painters from Caravaggio to Van Gogh in deft ekphrastic poems, evoking the courageous witness of Harriet Tubman and Malcolm X, or visiting with the poets, living and dead, who have been his masters, Paul Mariani's lyrical voice rings true. In the end, after the arduous journey that has taken him so far, the poet joins a simple supper, where the real shines forth in the breaking of bread.