by Elliot Figman
paper, 60 pages, $14.95
Elliot Figman's poems are ecstatic in the original, the best, sense of the word. They stand out from themselves, and by doing so they give to the transparent human ardors and longings that inspire them a disquieting luminousness. They bring us, by means of their faultless elegance and their clarifying order, face to face with the astonishing paradox that only by cherishing what is within the reach of our hands and present to our eyes can we transcend the boundaries of our world. All the poems in Big Spring are beautiful, and many of them are almost unbearably so.
Praise is the abundant impulse behind Elliot Figman's Big Spring. For Figman, praise is not simply the product of the world whose fields hold 'the first gold heads of the crocus, / The pink and white sleeves of magnolia.' In Figman's universe, praise is the result of having knelt 'down in that field / With a black bone wedged // Between your jaws, [to] speak / What you must speak softly.' Readers will find much to praise in these direct, clear, and softly spoken poems for they remind us of the quiet and authentic urgency at the heart of lyric poetry.
Meditative, playful, sensual, and witty, Elliot Figman's poems offer us insights and mysteries that veer from the cool, precise ruminations on loss to lyrical intensities of joy...What begins in an exploration of sorrow and restraint ends in resonance and amplitude, all the while acknowledging an unbiased universe. It is exhilarating to read these evolved and varied poems of transformation and love.