Poetry. Women's Studies. Our core, our humanity, finds expression in language. That core is linked by a genetic thread to other living beings. It is linked to a human past that is personal, social, and universal. These reflections and relationships are counterpoint to a moment of beauty, or perhaps horror: "Red surge of war news: rubble / bodies fragile, fragility understood and denied" ("Heart Valves"). The poems in BE(LONGING) explore being, desire, and context. Belonging: "set in a right or rightful place, but / originally, go along with" ("Nomad"). There are poems in this collection about keeping company with the dead and dying, with past selves, and with essential presences, like a grown daughter, "two elements bordering like states of being. // Crossing over. How to negotiate and adapt, girl to woman to mother" ("San Francisco Coastline"). Language prevails. Nine meanings of the Latin verb interesse are a riff on the English word interest. The definition "lie between or be separated" "prompts Outlier status, and maybe intrusions from either direction / keep apart lovers, the living from the dead" ("It's Not All about You".) The human body preserved after death: "Nasal cavities are carvings—/ wooden frog of a cello, a lute's ivory fretwork." "Process" is a whimsical description of composing a poem: "With an owl eye, / Aim for inevitable and whittle / With a paring knife."
Nancy Kassell is the author of BE(LONGING) (Dos Madres Press, 2016) and TEXT(ISLES) (Dos Madres Press, 2013). Her poems have been published in several anthologies, including Speaking for my Self: Women Poets in Their Seventies and Eighties and Verse and Universe: Poems About Science and Mathematics, and in literary journals (Notre Dame Review, BORDERLANDS, Eclipse, Willow Spring, Salamander, and others). Her translation of "Non omnis moriar" by Zuzanna Ginczanka (from the Polish, with Anita Safran), the first English translation of this poem, appeared on AGNIOnline and will be published in the Posen Foundation's 2017 volume of The Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization. An essay, "Almost Not," included in this chapbook, was published on the AGNI blog this year. Her essays were also included in The Road Retaken: Women Rediscover Academe; When a Lifemate Dies; and in the New York Times. Kassell was a founding member of The Writers' Room of Boston. In a previous life, Kassell taught Greek and Latin languages and literatures at the University of Pennsylvania, Boston University, and UMass-Boston and published articles on Horace and Ovid. She is also the author of a feminist cultural study, The Pythia on Ellis Island: Rethinking the Greco- Roman Legacy in America. She lives in Brookline, MA.Author City: BROOKLINE, MA USA