Poems by Susan Azar Porterfield

kibbeSusan Azar Porterfield movingly portrays the seeking of cultural roots in Lebanon and in her father’s former village of Kousba. What she offers is no less than a thrilling narrative of how we come to love the world, even among maimings, wars, and threats of translated confusions. These poems are political in the deepest sense—they thin the membrane between personal and public, demonstrating with clarity, grace, and even restraint, the reciprocity between one’s interior map and boundaries drawn in ink or blood. “The old country. No one says that now,” she writes. The “old country” for her is necessarily the new, and the new, the old. It’s Azar Porterfield’s profound love of place that grounds these poems in the viscera, where we are tender and most alive. Acknowledging her heritage, she says in “Chicago Love Poem,” “If I’d written Your eyes are two palm groves / at the hour of dawn, / the palms would be roots in my bones.” Still, you can’t remove from her the city of her birth: “I was born in Chicago, and this is what I know: / That without you, I’m a platform of the El / wind-iced at 3:00 a.m. / That together we’re a convertible ride / along Lakeshore Drive in June.” These poems are thick with the thinning of distance not only between cultures but between this and that, I and Thou, and self and other. The locus of transformation is the primacy of love.

—George Kalamaras

Kibbe by Susan Azar Porterfield
Mayapple Press
Publication Date: January 15, 2012
Price: $13.95
ISBN 978-1-936419-08-1

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