With almost no subject matter being taboo in postmodern poetry, ironically the oldest subject of all is, for most contemporary poets, strictly off-limits. That subject is love. It actually takes courage to publish a book of love poems in this cynical age.
But Amirthanayagam has it:
Blue Window / Ventana Azul affirms the beauty of love in all its forms. In the face of heartbreak, jealousy, despair, grief, distrust, and all the associated hazards of love, the message of this book, at least to this reader, is that despite its dangers, love is still well worth the risks.
Harrington also comments on the translation, by Jennifer Rathbun, and the format. The polyglot Amirthanayagam actually writes poetry in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, French, and Portuguese. This book he chose to write in Spanish and have it translated by Rathbun:
As a translator, I am interested in the ways in which writing in a language other than your native tongue affects one’s style, tone, and even themes…. It could be that, when Amirthanayagam writes in Spanish, it frees him from the strictures of the English language, which tends to eschew the theme of love, at least in direct address.
Amirthanayagam’s many other books have also garnered attention of late. The recently published, by Broadstone Books, Ten Thousand Steps Against the Tyrant
is reviewed by W. Luther Jett in IndiaCurrents
and also by Arden Levine at Green Linden
, and Serena Agusto-Cox in Savvy Verse & Wit.