City That Ripens on the Tree of the World
Florczyk, Piotr, World Literature Today
Robin Davidson. City That Ripens on the Tree of the World. Philadelphia. Calypso Editions. 2013. isbn 9780988790308
We are being buried alive under the huge number of poetry titles pub- lished not only each year but each month. Most of the books are by younger poets, many of whom are recent graduates of MFA programs. As someone who tries to keep up with the latest trends and preoccu- pations of poetry, I can attest that much of what's being written by the emerging poets has no chance of making a lasting impression; that's how gimmicky and mannered it feels. So when a poet who's been working on her craft for years finally decides to publish her work, I take notice. Such is the case with Robin David- son, a professor of English and trans- lator of Polish poetry who published not one but three collections this past year, including the full-length Luminous Other.
At the heart of City That Ripens on the Tree of the World is Davidson's preoccupation with the past and how it informs the present. Dredging up one's personal history isn't always a welcome strategy, but Davidson's poetry shines with insights and rivet- ing images largely because she allows her poems to travel along wherever she goes. For instance, in the gor- geous "Window," the poet observes "the October Polish sun . . . flooding the room" and recalls a photograph, taken in 1978, featuring her father, "drunk with the presence of all he loves." The layering of time and place leads to a stark epiphany when the speaker equates the world with a window, that "Porous realm of what is or was or could be."
A keen eye is indispensable to anyone wishing to stop time, if only momentarily. …