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Review: At the Edge of Night, by Anise Koltz

The world of Koltz's poems is austere, un-indulgent and un-indulged. The poems certainly 'spark', but what that flash of language leaves on the mind resembles an after-effect against a blackout:

Life is no long quiet river
but a bloodbath

Yet you ask me for
poetry decorated with flowers
with little birds

I'm sorry Ladies and Gentlemen
each of my poems
buries your dead

from Prologue

I need to contextualise my own critical response by saying that I was probably reading Koltz at the wrong time in my life. I may have been searching for longer moments of light among the wire-drawn darkness of her poetry. Her austerity is in its way beguiling and inviting. At one point she writes, Because this poem is a lie / it has the right to be beautiful. But the fictive I in Koltz's poetry never seems too far from a reality that is battered by grief. Her husband's death in 1971 as a late victim of the Nazi occupation gives rise to the brief emotionally-riven poems of Fire-Eater:

When my love was born
I washed him
with my right hand

When my love died
I washed him
with my left hand

Without a future
I stay behind
both hands severed