Years ago, a fellow poet confessed that he wanted his poetry to be like an abstract painting. I remember the conversation set up an ideal that tempted me beyond my own poetic practice. Could words evoke instead of describe, gesture instead of point? Saba Razvi’s work in this collection emanates from that ideal space: like the abstract expressionism of Gerhard Richter, Razvi’s poetry somehow evokes natural and fantastic environments without resorting to mimesis. Perhaps Razvi accomplishes this feat with compound words like “spaceshape,” achieving musical and intellectual combinations reminiscent of Paul Celan. Perhaps Razvi accomplishes this feat with a keen sense of rhetorical repetition, as in the anaphora of “Nor Equinox nor Promise” or the obsessive quality of “small” in “An Architecture for Mystery.” Perhaps Razvi accomplishes this feat with the juxtaposition of common and cosmic elements, like the doll peering down at the fall of heaven in “Leonid Shower Above 360 Overlook.” Of course, Razvi’s poetry is all of these details and more. In trying to write about the variety of these poems, their many compositions and colors, I have had to focus rather than take in. And these poems are most definitely meant to be taken in.
"The scatter-effect of such a compositional strategy produces a book that is unintelligible in the way that the most private and pleasurable experiences exist in memory outside of both language and time. The private meaning made via the text is transformational as an act of the reader’s powers of imagination under the influence of Legault’s “proper structure,” where “what / went in went out but multiplied” (“Madeleine as Crusoe”). Like shining a flashlight through cut glass, The Madeleine Poems make their own pattern and light as the reader moves through them, the beam of the gaze throwing color against the wall."