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Carmen, My Carmen And Other Poems (Paperback)
Carmen, My Carmen And Other Poems is more meditative and Whitman-esque than confessional. It carries epic strains and boldfaced themes-metaphysical and political, interlaced with lyrical flora and fauna. This poetry collection deals with the timeless leitmotifs of love, beauty, dotage, death and the panic of dreams for not finding one's place under America's sweltering sun. It sheds light on the raw agony of exile and diaspora in a new country where one has to start from ground zero, with no allies or friends, no siblings or supportive anchors or links and one is beset by heartbreaks of false starts and dubious beginnings in a welter of suspicions and boggy despair. And yet these poems dare to croon and dance, entice and enchant, and at times tease and vex as gadfly. The agons between the poet and God and between America and this bard continue sometimes like the twitter of birds and drizzle of rain, other times as agile exchange of thunderbolts and Molotovs. Yousuf Zaigham plays with those recurrent themes with scathing self-deprecating humor, tinctured wit, random spikes of rage and manic rancor, punctuated with the endless envy of the "truly great". In these poems, the sluice of self-examination and self-questioning never stops. Great titans of arts cameo frequently in his verses to offer a valiant hit parade of gods with all their mights, charismas, fault lines and short fuses. His poems draw and lift us from our everyday cycles of rote tedium and gummy ho-hum to an electric, elegiac and ecstatic world, as in "We, who were the soothing music upon your frigid waters" and showing how language can be deployed to conduct sublime commerce with God and his creation. The opulent choruses of East and West merge to create a richer and rousing music. He asks, "Is it my fault that the two worlds collapse in my arch?" where death is metamorphosed into a breathtaking Helen or Cleopatra, into an enigmatic Mona Lisa or Greta Garbo with the nimble alchemy of language. The poet struggles to keep his poise and place in the Niagara of America's literary canon. His irreverence is inspiring and threatening like a raucous donnybrook, thrilling as a glitzy and galling 24-7 spectacle. Yousuf Zaigham's poetry is America writ large-divine and vulgar, flame-thrower and rain-king, trouble-maker and redeemer rolled into one explosive package. Carmen, My Carmen And Other Poems will captivate the mandarins in academia due to the lushness of its cross-cultural allusions and enlivening jolts of its ideas and its daring to challenge the received wisdom. This volume also will intrigue and indulge the reading enthusiasts of poesy who love great passions deployed in the most fertile and fetching diction. This collection also will entice those inquisitive souls who crave the diasporic experience of migr artists who became Americans by choice and had to muddle through the equally stressful and exhilarating experience of being finally accepted. "Zaigham the poet is a juggler, dancer, singer, painter, puppeteer, magician, and more. A self-described "fecund fiend," he appropriates anything, real or abstract, then hones tenderly or, at times, forcefully, in a kind of tough love, to glorious form in stunning, often startling, imagery. He wishes to shake up, tear down and rebuild, "to wax Desdemona's handkerchief into blazing Rugosa roses or melt down Madonna's metallic bustier into Michael Jackson's Swarovski crystal glitter glove." He tangos and jangles us with such lines as "...the tall echoes of their no-bar silences in the dangling reeds/the effigies of their bonbon conceits...." Have at this feast It's quirky and captivating, riddled with giddy and/or dark humor, pathos, longing, smarts, and, in the end, adoration for language and the world which produced it." -Julie K. Shavin, Composer and author of, Of Mortality a Music.
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