Karen Shenfeld’s newest collection of poems, To Measure the World, feels like a love letter to life and its inevitable yin and yang, some of which comes with shock,
such as the end of a marriage,
“Be aware of those days when you might neglect the signs – / the gasp of plants, the lake’s too brilliant colour”
which, only on a backward glance reveals the signs of its unravelling.
In ‘Milestones’, a paean to the author’s mother, she compares moments from both their lives,
“This is not a mirage. In time-lapsed frames , / your lines crease my face.
I lean on your cane.”
I love the use of the word ‘lines’ in this line and how ‘cane’ is not a negative but part of the song.
‘Beach Poem’ is a powerful illustration of subtle differences between siblings that maybe only siblings know.
“I’ll leave for you the fine / white sand maternal as talcum / that dusts your bared soles, / eludes your tightfisted grasp.”
And what a joy to see ‘On the Shoulders of Giants’, which first appeared online at The Litter I See Project. In the context of this collection it takes on a deeper meaning, juxtaposed among the debris of so many and various relationships. The final lines, a gorgeous image:
“Tomorrow, I’ll wrap a potato in / a rocket’s fallen scraps.”
The book reads like an homage to both the welcome and the difficult in life’s journey, a reminder that both are necessary and neither are to be feared,
or taken for granted.
3 thoughts on “this is not a review: ‘to measure the world’, by karen shenfeld”
I love the cover art for this book, and the lines you’ve selected – both make me want to look for a copy. Thanks, Carin!
It’s a lovely book. Here’s a little more about Karen Shenfeld, via a Q&A I did with her some years back. (p.s. Am looking forward to the poetry podcast you posted!)
What a wonderful interview, Carin, thank you! You ask great questions. And I think you may have given me a sentence for my next combistory! (still undecided as to one m or two)
Thanks for the introduction to Karen Shenfeld. I’m looking forward to reading her work. Especially intrigued by My Father’s Hands Spoke in Yiddish.