In this collection, a poet with a background in diplomacy and academia takes on topics both global and personal.
If a reader were to pick up this collection and flip to a random poem in its first half, he or she might peg Sharpe (Coming and Going Love, 2010) as a poet with plenty to say about violence and poverty, iniquity and inequality. A peek into the book’s second half, however, might give a reader the impression of a finely focused writer tuned to appreciate subtle social exchanges and their implications. So which is Sharpe? A full reading of this collection—which is the American version of her 2002 collection The Deadmen and Other Poems—reveals a complex mix of both types of poetry. The voice that laments suffering and military action gets blended with a more humorous voice that muses on bathroom lines and artificial knees. Readers, as they make their way through this collection, soon find it reasonable for the same voice to refer to God as “a connoisseur of corpses, slashed or shot or hamburgered” and snail slime as “traceries of silver.” The poet’s voice is critical but tinged with hope; her words are sharp but chosen wisely. She seems to see something complete beyond life’s fragments—the idea that a world with war, poverty and inequity may not make sense, but like a partial rainbow, there’s still a touch of beauty in its imperfection.
A varied but cohesive collection that nicely balances the big and small pictures.