SURVIVE THE DARK…
EMBRACE THE LIGHT
Be aware of the cold, but remember and look forward to warmer times.
Eviction and Other Poems, Estelle Gershgoren Novak’s new book, is a collection of strong, honest, hard-hitting poems. This is a poet who’s not afraid of the dark. Or, if she fears the dark, she knows and shows that the way to deal with the fear is to write about the dark side of human existence, to face it squarely, and to shine a light upon the scene.
The book opens with poems about war, persecution, potential inhumanity of humankind, and the cruelty of history. Novak writes with strong passion about the persecution of the Jews, and one such poem, “Girl in the Pit,” shows the horrific connection between lust and violence.
As the book progresses it returns again and again to the themes of cold and dark, winter and nighttime. Novak reminds us that giving birth is painful, being born is painful, and life itself is full of loss in an unkind world. The poems “Sarah and Isaac” and “Jacob” reveal how parents (a mother, a father) suffer anger and grief over the possibility of losing a child. However, in this part the poet values the comfort found in memories.
The poems grow lighter toward the end of the collection, offering us hope and encouraging us to embrace our world. Life is full and fecund. Spring will replace winter. These poems largely celebrate beauty, love, and the return of light.
Throughout the collection, Novak demonstrates the power of words. Though she writes primarily in free verse, she finds beauty in the sound of words and sprinkles in rhymes and near-rhymes to give a resonance to her poems and thoughts and feelings.
Estelle Gershgoren Novak was born in Detroit, but she has lived most of her life in Los Angeles. She began writing poetry at the age of fifteen and was associated with the left-wing literary magazine Coastlines. She is the author of three previous poetry collections: The Shape of a Pear, The Flesh of Their Dreams, and Lot’s Wife and Other Poems. She also edited the book Poets of the Non-Existent City: Los Angeles in the McCarthy Era, which was chosen by the Los Angeles Times as one of their Books of the Year 2002. She holds a Ph.D. in English Literature and has taught in several Southern California universities.