Closer to Where We Began (Tightrope Books, 2017)
Blurb: Richter’s first book traces an intimate diaspora, melding her Jewish heritage from Montreal to Tel Aviv, with her Western stint existing amid “mountains, reflected in puddles” and her current life in Toronto, one threaded through with subtle gestures of love as a couple examines viscera in a gallery, as they cross symbolic suspension bridges and she feels the flower and flame of his hand on her back. Memorial poems abound – for George Harrison, Nathan, Maurice Sendak, Vancouver. Remembering almost has a scent: lush, acrid, irretrievable. These are pieces of young mid-life when possibly a deeper consciousness of death and history twins with continued and reconfigured desires. Inscription, Long Exposure, With your Permission, To my New Grey Hairs and What the Night Brings into Morning are some of my particular favorites in this gently fierce and consistent collection.
Crits: At times, Richter’s language could use greater precision in its descriptors – why isn’t skin once “stretched hospital corner-taut” not “mitred” skin, for instance. Endings can occasionally fall into flat didacticism too as in Blind Date which concludes limply (perhaps apropos to the occasion but I still feel memorable diction and rhythm can be utilized to depict a forgettable event) with, “everyone’s getting sick these days, even in the middle of July.” And (to get snippy haha) I didn’t note an acknowledgment that “She Comes out of Church” was composed during my Other 23 and a Half workshop in TO, 2015. And is, in fact, about one of my childhood memories 😉
Nothing in my blue-and-white/flagged past prepared me for the choke/of stories carried on gusts of gritty/ wind. During the khamsin
handfuls of dust adrift/from the Sinai desert rise in red/storms. We inhale distant dunes/that pass through the checkpoints/
of mucus membranes, each granule/a syllable in the name of a village/scrubbed off a map, the earth’s/flesh rubbed raw, weeping salt from/
the cracks, wounds branded into/memory. At dusk, date palms droop/in dark silhouettes beneath the holy/sky’s tourniquet. We breathe in the silt/the land can’t abide to keep still.
[lovely yummy alliterations here!]