Saturday, 12 April 2014

Perfect Phrases

Michael Lista reviews Ricardo Sternberg's latest collection and pronounces him "one of the absolute best poets in this country."
Some Dance doesn’t so much mark a departure from Sternberg’s previous work as continue to plot a trend, an evolution from the folkloric and fantastic to the secular and contemporary. Written in the voice of an “inveterate optimist,” Some Dance finds Sternberg taking account of his world, his life, and bestowing to it the dignity of his style, transforming it like the inveterate optimists of the insect world, “The Bees,” with “the trick (or is it wisdom?) / that allows them to distil / from the thorn of grievance, / the sweetest honey.” He takes us through his encounters with charlatans and stoned surgeons, lost loves, failed marriages, dead friends and relatives, the dictionary, a fridge full of expired food and more, and attends to each with the same verbal precision, panache and pathos, so that the unerring consideration of his aesthetic becomes a kind of ethical invigilation, the redemption of imperfect lives by perfect phrases.

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