Mark Perlberg’s poems are deeply felt, their language concrete, alive, moving. Whether his verses are about his family, meditations on time and memory, love poems, or even ghost narratives, his concerns are broadly humane. His voice is sometimes lyric, sometimes narrative—often in the same poem—but always unmistakably his own.
The largely autobiographical Part I opens the collection with moving poems about the poet}s family—his overeducated maternal grandfather, his mother, the dead father the boy never really knew. The tone darkens in Part II includes a powerful recollection of Perlberg’s own heart surgery and brief but wrenching Holocaust poems based on a trip to Prague: “An old Jew dreams. . .the Grand Rabbi/ has forgotten all the secret names of God” (“Kabbala”).
In Part III Perlberg offers love poems and continues his lifelong preoccupation with East Asia. Verses about childhood fill Part IV, with a memory of the spicy smell of burning, discarded Christmas trees; a touching tribute to the enduring influence of the poet’s first grade teacher; and recollections of carefree summer days.
Mark Perlberg (1929–2008) cofounded the Poetry Center of Chicago and served as its president for many years. He is the author of four other books of poetry: The Burning Field, The Feel of the Sun, The Impossible Toystore, and Waiting for the Alchemist.
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