Dean and Bolina
At first glance there is little connection between Dean's novel and the poetry of Jaswinder Bolina. One thing they share, however, is an ease with scientific terms; even the title of Bolina's first collection, Carrier Wave, suggests something of scientific measurement and objectivity. That suggestion, however, is most useful as a sense of contrast. Bolina's poems make big jumps and find surrealistic connections. The poems' wit and irony gives them a feel of impersonality, even as they offer highly personal records of the author's wild imagination. The author tells us that "I didn't struggle for meaning," yet meaning seems to arise on its own from a mixture of tone and image. Even though much of the book turns on Bolina's playfulness, even on his jokes, I am more attracted to other moments that arise out of his poems to assume a very real weight. The poem "What Awaits the Thunder," after its small ironies ("It's so difficult to be in love in wartime"), concludes:
| I weep openly and sight returns to my bum eye. The garden grows |
stereoscopic in the murky and shuddering light. A familiar
anxiety disperses, and a new anxiety resounds in its place.
I feel claustrophobic in the hailstorm. I grow murderous in the fog.
You say knock it off. I say it's so difficult to be in love.
Margaret Lazarus Dean and Jaswinder Bolina read from their first books at the Rackham Building on Thursday, January 17.
[Review published January 2008]