Nearly Terminal resonates with a sense of foreboding at what may be seen as the social collapse of the individual self in a society that is being 'whitened out.' Incorporating and intertwining aspects
Nearly Terminal resonates with a sense of foreboding at what may be seen as the social collapse of the individual self in a society that is being 'whitened out.' Incorporating and intertwining aspects of the personal love relationship with a sense of a self under scrutiny, by itself and an imagined Other, the focus becomes one of loss, solitude, and the existential sense of being in a vast universe that is defined by traces of life increasingly lived as forms of abstraction within a virtual, disembodied reality. With a younger audience in mind, with poetic diction that is not afraid to be bold and experimental in its statements and claims, and with a delicate use of techniques evoking lacunae and erasure to convey the unanswerability of some basic existential questions, Eleni Zisimatos presents a bleak and uncertain view of the world.
It is amazing and inspiriting that Eleni Zisimatos can draw the fresh, unique beauty of Nearly Terminal out of poetry?s engage- ment with the human dilemma as it exists now. The winter of non- communication takes its present pressing form??You cannot come so close./The mark is in the computer??but this metaphorical win- ter brings in the saving presence of winter itself, of the real, which always appeals to the human and offers a point of re-beginnings:
?Such compassion/in a sparrow?s eye.?The sparse, seemingly contradictory, Celan-like beauty of the first part of Nearly Terminal yields to a more personal and directly espoused second part, and a third part of exploratory affirmation, proposing what Zisimatos calls ?the / Will that / and.? In place of the will to power and the will to death, this brilliant and yearning poet would open us, stirringly, to?the primal light, the light/Where we understand each other.? A. F. MORITZ
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Eleni (Helen) Zisimatos is Co-Editor-in-Chief of Vallum Magazine, has been nominated for a National Magazine Award in poetry, and was short-listed for the Robert Kroetsch Award, the Irving Layton Awards (in both poetry and fiction), and the Santa Fe Writers? Awards. She holds degrees in Creative Writing and English Literature, and currently lives in Montreal, Quebec.?
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?Eleni Zisimatos opens Nearly Terminal with a Dantean warning: ?The death of human consciousness is white.? Yes: To venture onto these imposing white pages is to navigate a blinding snowscape where words are the sparse objects that poke out of the drifts, like inukshuks, suggesting directions and meanings that are impos- sible to pinpoint, to pin down, because they are jests of gestures, as revealing in their amplitude as are ?Cut up clouds.? Nearly Terminal recalls Dame Atwood?s Journals of Susanna Moodie, but also John Thompson?s barely there ghazals, all that blank space Blitzkrieg?d by incandescent inklings, those dark flashes of insight amid the vacant, Arctic desert of ?Such white,? ?much despair,? where winter means erasure, ?a white eclipse.??
? George Elliott Clarke
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