Inspired by her encounter with Dr. Chevalier Jackson’s collection of ingested curiosities at Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum, Kimiko Hahn’s 10th collection, Foreign Bodies, investigates the grip that seemingly insignificant objects exert on our lives. Itself a cabinet of curiosities, the collection provokes the same surprise, wonder, and pangs of recognition Hahn felt upon opening drawer after drawer of these swallowed and retrieved objects – a radiator key, a child’s perfect attendance pin, a mother-of-pearl button. The speaker of these moving poems sees reflections of these items in the heartbreaking detritus of her family home, and in her long-dead mother’s Japanese jewelry. Foreign Bodies investigates the power of possession, replete with Hahn’s electric originality and thrilling mastery of ever-changing forms.
With irony, in mourning tinged with eros, Rosanna Warren, one of our most extraordinary poets, blends the personal and the political to meditate on damage, aging, and injustice. The poems in So Forth surge back in memory, pondering guilt and forgiveness. Consciousness flows from singular to plural; identity in these poems does a round dance with other personae, with formidable women artists of the past in the powerful sequence “Legende of Good Women,” with pre-Socratic philosophers, and with lovers, children, and strangers – the strangest of whom is the face in the mirror. In response to griefs both historical and contemporary, So Forth contemplates the quest for the holy and traditions of the sacred.