The New Nudity gives voice to the souls of objects. In these dark, spoken still lives, personification becomes a kind of conjuring, a mystical art rife with nuance. A swan is “death dressed/in snow.” A door admits, “If you look under my skirt, you’ll see/the darkness of another world.” The spine is a “bone ruffle.” Bar-Nadav’s powers of description are prodigious and spooky. In images as disquieting and reverberant as ancient riddles, Bar-Nadav marries the monstrous and the illuminating, the solid and the ethereal, reflecting harrowing and beautiful facets of our dissolving world.
Hadara Bar-Nadav studies everyday objects and builds figurative assemblages that are unbearably beautiful and believable. Like a contemporary Francis Ponge (“The Voice of Things”), she presents a tour de force on materiality—door, ladder, sugar, swan, oven, bridge, and lung, for a sampling. Using the poetic sleight-of-hand of harrowingly brief lines, she exponentially explodes the simplest object into myth and history. Her stripped down images—is this the new nudity she refers to?—create uncommonly explosive, intense poems.
Dazzling, sorrowful, part elegy, part call and response between Bar-Nadav and Emily Dickinson, (“We…walked into the world across a woman’s lips”), this grand third book is a scrupulously crafted, brilliantly conceived sequence of poems. An essential and ravishing work.
In four sequences of sonically brilliant poems, Bar-Nadav meditates on the mortality of parents, the betrayal of the flesh, our partial salvation through artistic creation, and the many ways the dead and passing continue to live on in our perceptions of the world. Emily Dickinson’s voids and echo chambers inhabit this book—phrases from her poems are strung like silver threads through it—but these musically astonishing, restless, often terrifying poems are entirely Bar-Nadav’s. “To be alive is to be Haunted; to be dead is to haunt,” she writes. “Who calls your name? We do. Who speaks from your mouth? We do. Father, mother, daughter, we do. A seat for you at our table.” This is an invigorating, deeply moving book by one of the truly memorable poets of my generation.
Terse and fiery terms, strong emotions, and analogies from the visual arts dominate this often erotic, sometimes brilliant second collection from Bar-Nadav….
In Hadara Bar-Nadav’s poetry, ruin gives birth to blossoms, and broken glass gives rise to temples of a thousand shining windows. In the presence of death, under the aegis of catastrophe, everything comes alive. This is not merely the art of affirmation; this is the poetry of fierce abandonment to Being. In The Frame Called Ruin, our souls are shown, thank God, to be both weightless and indestructible: “Everything unbuttons and we/forget about war.” Bar-Nadav has made a book of miracles.
Space is at the center of this gorgeously sculpted book, whether it’s the torn spaces left behind by war or the polished spaces of contemporary architecture or the bottomless rectangles of Rothko canvases. Bar-Nadav approaches them all with an ekphrastic eye, negotiating them through agile juxtapositions and a balance of sharp clarity and evocative ambiguity. Each poem is a gem.
With a scrupulous and often terrifying sensuousness that invokes butchery and witchery, and with smooth and feverish music, Hadara Bar-Nadav creates a world of surreal excitement. “Every voice, a hiss/ with my name inside// and God in the rafters / hissing too.” Enter here, but walk with care.
Hadara Bar-Nadav’s smart, prize-winning poems do the hard work of revising our stories. The poems see clearly atrocities both domestic and international and reproduce them in brilliant chips of what would be color if it were paint. This poet’s tongue cracks open language to project fractured images from our intellectual systems – architecture, mathematics, ekphrasis, even the reduction of body to experience. A brave, fierce, and brilliant first book.
…Hadara Bar-Nadav is a poet to keep an eye on. She is a firecracker mind with a wholly original voice. Her next few books should be stunners