Review appears in July issue of Poets and Artists (online). Click HERE for direct link.
'Reasonable Doubt: Now bring on the ghosts.' The world of Edward Nudelman, July 22, 2011
By Grady Harp (Los Angeles, CA United States)
Publisher: Lummox Press (To order: click here
Binding: PAPERBACK, perfect-bound, glossy color covers
Edward Nudelman is a poet of importance. It is likely that at some point in his career he will be at least short listed for Poet Laureate, so able is he to find those fragments of imagination, question, fear, doubt, and need for definition that poke temporary holes in our lives, leaving us with a choice of persistent uncertainty or a good guffaw as camouflage. Reading Nudelman's succinct poems is not unlike studying cells through a microscope, something Nudelman likely has spent time doing in his day job of cancer research - watching what appear to be normal cells metamorphose into altered forms, becoming villains to life as our bodies know it. Perceptions and explanations, cognitive transient thoughts piqued by momentary changes, looking at the expected and finding paradoxes, and in the end putting all of these experiences in the finely carved frame of humor and the time erosion of memory - all of these aspects are in this collection of erudite yet warmly recognizable Gileads of poetry.
An aspect of Edward Nudelman's poems that this reader finds particularly appealing is his ability to communicate a thought in a one page poem that minutes to hours to days later calls the reader back to re-think the message first accepted:
A flood light decants through a side window.
Who can tell a gnat from a mosquito, unless
blood is spilled? Outside, a dog wants in.
A bus pulls up to its last stop, a boy gets off.
It's a long walk home; but he wants to walk.
Nobody here remembers the Vietnam war
but they will not easily forget this one.
An astronaut is returning from another planet.
It's late, but everybody's ears are piqued.
Everything's looming, everything's on hold,
including Wednesday evening's bridge club.
Halfway through the night, a worried
mother finishes her second book in two nights.
The dog is allowed to come in and checked
for ticks. The stove is left on for heat.
Moods of such ignored magnitude find their way into most all of Nudelman's poems - that and humor and other conundrums. In the very elegant NOCTURNAL we can excerpt a few lines (space here does not allow full recreation): 'I've written a poem on the death of my father/ and another on the birth of my granddaughter./ Both poems contain the same words in different order./ And both possess the capacity to shock me.'......'Have you ever considered walking backwards to work?/ Watching your house grow smaller and smaller/ until finally you can't remember the color of shutters./ Have you ever thought about remodeling your mind?' And in the midst of humor and challenges to look twice at first perceptions he is also able to step back and write simply a pure poem:
A hawk's view of a field in the last hour of light.
To understand limitless reach, a concept
withheld from those who are not birds.
To differentiate ocean from water, space
from enclosure, to stretch out over expanding
coldness and remain insulated, cradled.
To ride a tornado without feeling dizzy.
Slide down an elephant's back.
Go to the dentist just for a thrill.
Disavow self-preservation and envy.
Denounce consumption, apathy, rancor.
To see both the end and the beginning
simultaneously, and embrace both.
To rest in hope, my own diminishing.
Edward Nudelman slyly takes a cupful of science and a dollop of humor and a soupçon of philosophy and stirs that and more into some of the finest poetry being written today. Science. Art. There really is no division. Grady Harp, July 11