magnetic refrain (Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut)


Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut’s collection magneticrefrain is at once beautiful, lyrical, haunting, and disturbing — a combination of qualities that make it, to me, a very worthwhile read. Throughout the collection, several recurring images (folkloric figures, dolls, “others,” animals, etc.) appear that lend the collection a sense of cohesion augmented by its interest in adoption, histories of violence, and race.

Perhaps there’s nothing as effective at communicating the beauty of magneticrefrain as sharing a little bit of it. Here’s an excerpt from the poem called “cloudspin” that appears near the middle of the collection:

Come be my fugitive and dance the bomb
on the roof of our church until it breaks
and all the bells soar through the sky with sound.

Come live with me, and we will ice the cake
with sugar from a lonely tangerine.
Spill into the tide until we surge, free.

The language is simply beautiful. No other word describes it as accurately as that (for this reader, anyway). There’s not much more I can say besides that you should give this book a try. It’s absolutely lovely. I can’t wait to read more from this poet!

GOOD FOR:  readers looking for a fresh poetry experience, thinkers whose interest is piqued by animal studies, and everyone who likes a good blend of folklore, poetry, and political commentary all rolled into one.

BAD FOR:  seekers of the easy read, fans of poetry that doesn’t need a lot of interpretation, and people who dislike the experience of being confused from time to time.

GOOD WITH:  The Facts of WinterLegends From Camp, and Salt Fish Girl.


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