A luminous new collection inspired and inhabited by the title character of Nabokov’s novel Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle, who was the lifelong love of her half brother.
These stunning poems are set in a Nabokovian landscape of memory in which real places, people, and things—the exploration of the Hudson River, Edwardian London, sunflowers, Chekhov, Harlem, decks of cards, the death of Solzhenitsyn, morpho butterflies—collide with the speaker’s own tale of desire and loss. In the opening poem, “Birch,” Zarin writes, “Abide with me, arrive / at its skinned branches, its arms pulled / from the sapling . . . the birch all elbows, taking us in.” With a dazzling string of contemporary sonnets as its spine, the book is a headlong display of mastery and sorrow. Zarin does not “Destroy and forget!” as Nabokov’s witty, tender Ada would have her do. Instead, like all enduring love poetry, these poems are a gorgeous refusal to forget.
A riveting, high-stakes performance, pulled off with exceptional grace by one of our major poets.
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