Winner of the 2012 Green Rose Prize
As full of candor and ontological inquiry as they are of verve, panache, and wit, the poems in Bolina’s second collection stretch and dilate, in order to, as the author puts it, “feel so attached—like a ligament—to the whole shebang of human experience.”
…a veritable tidal wave of verse, lines spilling forth propulsively and carrying with them keen observation of the everyday…sophisticated but eminently embraceable, a tip-off of what’s to come.
—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
Jaswinder Bolina’s second book of poetry is a stunning performance, as beautiful, accomplished, and memorable as any volume of poetry I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Arriving at the last poem in this fine work, all I could feel was a hunger for more, and the deepest gratitude for Bolina’s rare intellectual and artistic gifts.
Phantom Camera searches for ways to escape the traps of autobiographical self-absorption while retaining the warmth and energy of personal narrative. Bolina’s speakers are often melancholy and estranged, yet charmingly ironic about their estrangement. Drama—both funny and touching—arises from their efforts to stay safe while longing for human connection.
“I understand how near you are to the tipping. I understand how the sensation is of moving very quickly as if along a high scaffolding where the danger is in becoming too conscious of the easy, animal rhythms of walking. You’re trying not to over-think it and you’re trying not to not think of it either.” Addressing us from “this precise moment in America” at which “the nation is a hallway all vanishing point no conclusion,” Bolina proves to be a virtuoso at ontological standup comedy—or is it elegy?—as his lyric riffs hit “the crease in [the] brain where the self accumulates.” These are poems that will retain their intensity unto many re-readings.