Strange Nursery begins with a complex, complicated poem, “Harvest,” that braids together bits from Schor’s time as a member of a university’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, modern and ancient Talmudic scripts, and the poet’s own lyric musings. Many readers, like this one, may find it difficult and confusing, though there’s also something exhilarating about it, like an ancient Hebrew book redacted by a modern scientist who’s read Celan. Yet on the other side of it awaits an extraordinary collection of poems that essentially extend these lines from “Harvest”: “what don’t the dead do?/ it’s a long list.” Schor writes, “Look, said the painter,” in the powerful poem “Budapest,” and her synesthetic sensibility, suggesting that images talk and music conveys smell, is part of what makes these poems such a pleasure to read. She charts dark and disturbing moral waters with great acuity and grace, and is equally poised in the lighter areas of love and friendship. By the end of the book I had learned, laughed, and felt a great deal, though perhaps the question that lingers the most is: Why does such a masterful poet not enjoy a broader audience and wider acclaim (Harold Bloom’s effusive blurb notwithstanding)?
Strange Nursery: Poems
Jason Myers is a writer whose work has appeared in AGNI, BOOKFORUM, and Tin House.
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