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I got lost this week in the bright fields of Life in Suspension, a book of poems so luminous and fanciful that you can stumble around for hours within it, lose track of time almost, and fall out the other end feeling lighter and like you just traveled to another time and place. Read this book if you want to experience straightforward beauty.
Many of the poems in this book are about her childhood recollections, and she animates them for us, but perhaps most astonishingly is the volume’s title poem, in which she leaps forward in time, beginning with the womb. The poem continues to offer up snapshots from various ages, each one delivering up narrative, imagery and a sense of place and a specific moment in Cardona’s life.
The poet maps out a life here, and it feels so complete somehow, via the sensory and sensient moments she chooses to describe. I fell inside these poems and felt entirely charmed and also transported by them.
Best known for her screen and stage work as an accomplished thespian, Cardona demonstrates afresh that she has a lyric gift in this book.
Winner of the 2020 Independent Press Award, the 2017 Best Book Award in Poetry, the 2017 International Book Award in Poetry, the Pinnacle Book Award for Best Bilingual Poetry Book, and the Readers’ Favorite Award in Poetry. Finalist for the 2018 Eric Hoffer Book Award, the 2016 Lascaux Prize in Collected Poetry and the Julie Suk Award.
Elizabeth Cohen is a multi-genre writer who holds a degree in poetry and creative writing from Columbia University where she studied with Sharon Olds, Cynthia McDonald, Brad Leithauser and J.D. McClatchy, among others. She is a published poet and memoirist, a twenty year veteran journalist and columnist, and the author of a book of short stories. She has been a visiting professor at Western Connecticut State University and was appointed to the Philip and Eleanor Piaker Chair in Creative Writing and Judaic Studies at Binghamton University in 2003. Her memoir, The Family On Beartown Road, was a New York Times Notable Book of the year and was excerpted by the Sunday Times of London, Reader’s Digest, and other publications.
Hélène Cardona’s books include Life in Suspension, Dreaming My Animal Selves (Salmon Poetry) and the translations Birnam Wood (José Manuel Cardona, Salmon Poetry), Beyond Elsewhere (Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac, White Pine Press), Ce que nous portons (Dorianne Laux, Éditions du Cygne), and Walt Whitman’s Civil War Writings for WhitmanWeb. She is translated into 16 languages. The recipient of over 20 honors & awards, including the Independent Press and International Book Awards, Naji Naaman Prize, and Hemingway Grant, she holds an MA in American Literature from the Sorbonne, worked as a translator for the Canadian Embassy, and taught at Hamilton College and LMU.
©Elizabeth Cohen/Hélène Cardona