The Frame Called Ruin
A Green Rose Book
In Hadara Bar-Nadav’s poetry, ruin gives birth to blossoms, and broken glass gives rise to temples of a thousand shining windows. In the presence of death, under the aegis of catastrophe, everything comes alive. This is not merely the art of affirmation; this is the poetry of fierce abandonment to Being. In The Frame Called Ruin, our souls are shown, thank God, to be both weightless and indestructible: “Everything unbuttons and we/forget about war.” Bar-Nadav has made a book of miracles.
Space is at the center of this gorgeously sculpted book, whether it’s the torn spaces left behind by war or the polished spaces of contemporary architecture or the bottomless rectangles of Rothko canvases. Bar-Nadav approaches them all with an ekphrastic eye, negotiating them through agile juxtapositions and a balance of sharp clarity and evocative ambiguity. Each poem is a gem.
The Frame Called Ruin is a deliberation in contrasts, a study of illumination and wreckage. Bar-Nadav sutures together myth, beauty, mutiny, and mutilations within her multiplicity of frames. These poems are an architecture of scars, riddled with teeth, bullets, peepholes, and a “reporter bleeding from her mouth,” emblematic of the poet. Though the poems exhibit a sense of destruction, they are ultimately about the acts of witnessing and of healing: “you are the messenger./Come.” I am both undone and restored by this book’s vulnerability, brutality, brilliance, humor, and humanity.
Ekphrasis is the “frame” of Hadara Bar-Nadav’s new book, The Frame Called Ruin, as many of the poems are inspired by works of art by Rothko, Nevelson, and others. This ekphrastic exchange is also the medicine for ruin, transcending time and space to become its own pataphysical reality. The title poem, by definition riddled with absence, serves as catalyst for the astonishing equilibrium of voice, form, and theme that dominates the book. Via extreme ellipsis, the title poem offers the barest glimpse into enormous loss, making it all the more excruciating. The poet could leave us there, in the rubble, but instead provides the context, solace, and determination to cycle us through eternity. Bar-Nadav’s book is the very stuff of restoration, the creative primitive that corresponds to all that is phantom in the world. As she writes in “Still Life (with Death)”: “Every shadow loved me, every eyeless/girl made of cunning and wind,” and there is not one reader who won’t believe her.
Hadara Bar-Nadav is the author ofA Glass of Milk to Kiss Goodnight(Margie/Intuit House, 2007), which was awarded the Margie Book Prize. Her chapbook, Show Me Yours (Laurel Review/ GreenTower Press, 2010), was awarded the Midwest Poets Series Award. She is also co-author, with Michelle Boisseau, of Writing Poems, 8th edition (Pearson, 2011). Her awards include fellowships from The Vermont Studio Center and The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She is currently an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and lives in Kansas City with her husband, Scott George Beattie, a furniture maker and visual artist. Author photo by Sharon Gottula (gottula.com).