25 May 2007

Please welcome John Guzlowski

On the first day of my intro to poetry writing classes I spend time discussing definitions of poetry, and one of my main claims is that a good book of poetry should contain all of the delights that a reader would expect from a novel: deep engagement with the subject, images that provoke and resonate, characters that remain in the memory long after the final page. However tidy this definition might be, it falls short in many cases. Lightning and Ashes by John Guzlowski exceeds these expectations, however.

John and I struck up a friendship over email, since we are both Steel Toe poets. We decided to do a book swap. I was completely unprepared for the absolute spell Lightning and Ashes would cast over me. This is a lyrical novel that does not compromise poetics for the sake of story, as John allows us to witness his parents' experience in the death camps of WWII. Of course the book is haunting and terrifying, but there are moments of intense lyrical beauty within these pages as well. I picked up Lightning and Ashes right after putting my children to bed, and did not, could not, stop reading until the final poem. And then I started from the beginning again.

Please add this book to your summer reading list, and please stop by and welcome John to the blogosphere.

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