poem index

book

Voyager

Year

2011

Type

Poetry Book
Voyager by Srikanth Reddy
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Reddy's second book of poems uses as its source text the memoir of Kurt Waldheim, secretary-general of the UN from 1972 to 1981, who kept silent about his past as an intelligence offer in Hitler's regime. Through a series of erasures in varied forms, Reddy translates and retranslates Waldheim's memoir and creates a narrative somehow steeped in universality. As Marjorie Perloff writes, "Voyager does what no "original" history poem could do: it exposes 'Waldheim's disease' as much more than one individual's particular mendacity." Themes of power, identity, self-realization, hope, and leadership permeate this collection, which, as John Ashbery notes, "unwinds at a hypnotic pace, inexorable as a set of philosophic prepositions, yet also strangely porous, like poetry." From the last poem in the second series of translations:

Now I realize that, in the theatres of neutrality, the heart freezes. This is a difficult problem. Everybody watches the wheel as it turns...
I embraced a new work. It was
engendered in my dream. It was built of desire.
Experience taught me that, in the final analysis,
nothing ends. The first steps must follow.

This book review originally appeared in American Poets.

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