an on-line poetry magazine
for the 21st century

WINTER 2021-22

 

BOOK REVIEWS

POSTCARDS & ANCIENT TEXTS
Craig Czury
(Foothills Publishing, 2020)

It is fitting that a poet like Craig Czury, one of those rare glob-trotting ambassadors for poetry and international cultural exchange with the passport stamps to prove it, has produced a pocket-size carry-on little booklet of poems with a name like POSTCARDS & ANCIENT TEXTS. These bite-size missives are casual, discursive, and of the moment, and they fit in a man’s shirt pocket – yet, they transport us to farflung reaches of the globe, including  the likes of Albania, Italy, Lithuania, Macedonia, Greece, Mexico and South America.

At one moment we are in Vilnius Lithuania, walking through the old Jewish cemetery reading headstones riddled with roots and obscured by shadowy branches. Turn the page and we’re in a Mexican jungle hacking snake shoots with a hand-held machete. Czury, teaching a new generation of children, veterans of divorce wars and success wars, in Kosovo. Czury, counting the pigeons in a piazza in Soncino, Italy.

For a peripatetic poet like Czury, sometimes leaving isn’t leaving – it’s just passing from grace to grace; intimacies are brief, as a moment’s grace, hearty, absurd, ephemeral, when the world doesn’t ‘get you.’ And yet, at other times he cannot help but reflect on the distances and separations that so much travel incurs. ‘”This is the last sitting and knowing something between us moves from opposite lengths,” in the truly heart-wrenching poem This is the Last Night Together, ‘the last time something the same moves between us.’

If one never knows where in the world the Dallas Pa bred Czury will be found next, this little collection is a reassurance that wherever it is, the poet will be in the middle of some intimate and revealing moment, issuing quotidians by the stanza; sitting over espresso, thinking about absolutely nothing; standing on a balcony in a port city where the glare of the sun has already docked for the day; reaching for language across long silences; singing himself to sleep after a long day searching precisely  for the things that we have forgot , as they go looking for themselves.

Kudos to Foothills Press, a small press well-known for producing lovingly handstitched chapbooks somewhere off the grid in Western New York. They’ve produced a beautiful little collection, in possession of a physical elegance that belies its modest size. The postcards and ancient texts are hand-held – but they take us on journeys as microscopically intimate – and as global — as the human spirit.