Last News of Mr. Nobody

Emmanuel Moses
  • Review
By – June 25, 2012
Emmanuel Moses is a mas­ter of sug­ges­tion, evok­ing images, feel­ings and ideas while he sub­merges his­to­ry, lit­er­a­ture, mythol­o­gy and pol­i­tics with­in each poem (pre­sent­ed in French and Eng­lish) to focus on inten­tion and mul­ti­ple-lay­ered inter­pre­ta­tions. So in Dunkerque. In the Ear­ly Morn­ing Fog,” we read, Sev­er­al voic­es dis­cuss the dan­ger of the crossing,/-The sea is rid­dled with mines since the last war — /​Shadows of hands stir,/The one obsessed with kilo­me­ters shouts loud­er than the others/​( Time pause) there are sev­er­al answers to the only ques­tion…” Again, the past per­vades the present in XXXVI from The Year of the Drag­on,” as the author notes how he served as post­man dur­ing the war of Yom Kip­pur and watched the pro­ces­sions dur­ing Sadat’s vis­it to Jerusalem, “…So much for my mem­o­ries. I can’t serve as wit­ness for any­thing else. I didn’t even see my grand­moth­er die. I thought that she was still breath­ing under the sheet,/And her cof­fin was like a suitcase/​Where some­one hides to cross the border/​Without being seen.” A short poem, The Inn,” best cap­tures the essence of E. Moses’ rumi­na­tions, “…Suf­fer­ing comes from else­where, what mat­ter if it is reflected/​in each word/​he has learned a cer­tain num­ber of/things,/helped by aging,/notably that it’s nec­es­sary to love/who’s with us, who goes before/​and awaits us,/seated at the noc­tur­nal inn.” Like study­ing a fine paint­ing or rel­ish­ing a culi­nary delight, the read­er needs to savor these poems repeat­ed­ly to receive their full atmos­phere and fla­vor. Such appre­ci­a­tion even­tu­al­ly belies the com­plex­i­ty that ini­tial­ly con­fus­es and then dis­ap­pears, as in Pas­sions and Lions,” where the author shows us how to read a poem, “…I’d trace it with my finger/​and with eyes half closed she’d wait until I got over it/​because our time was done.”
Deb­o­rah Schoen­e­man, is a for­mer Eng­lish teacher/​Writing Across the Cur­ricu­lum Cen­ter Coor­di­na­tor at North Shore Hebrew Acad­e­my High School and coed­i­tor of Mod­ern Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture: A Library of Lit­er­ary Crit­i­cism, Vol. VI, pub­lished in 1997.

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