One of the most pervasive images of acrobatic ability is of trapeze artists dangling from the crossbar, leaping and shining through the air, and eventually landing gracefully on a parallel crossbar. To train the body to perform such death-defying acts must batter the muscles, sinews, and bones of the artists. Such endurance is honed for those few moments of perfect grace and agility: when the hands connect to something solid and the crowd is on their feet. Nabaneeta Dev Sen’s poetry in Acrobat, available now from Archipelago Books, has that same leaping energy and agility in its imagination which demands not only the reader’s attention, but earns it.
Sarah Bigham begins her impressive collection, Kind Chemist Wife: Musings at 3 a.m, with the poem “Gettysburg” — an excavation of memory as much as it is an examination of it. The poem closes with the lines “Beauty / or not?” — a fitting description of the collection as a whole: equal parts witty and wise, breezy and poignant. It’s a collection that focuses not only on life’s snapshot, shiny moments but on the kind of invasive memories that plague us in the early morning hours.