Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Review of The Immigrant's Lament

Review by ElizabethR -- The Immigrant's Lament

Post Number:#1 by ElizabethR » 25 Jul 2017, 16:08
[Following is a volunteer review of "The Immigrant's Lament" by Mois benarroch.]

Book Cover

4 out of 4 stars

Review by ElizabethR

Moshe (or Mois) Benarroch's The Immigrant's Lament may be small, but it is mighty.

Even as a full length poetry manuscript, it's on the lower end when it comes to page count. However, it more than makes up for it with the powerful content. Themes of love, loss, and identity are all vividly and comprehensively explored in this thin volume. This collection of poems was translated to English and published in 2005. And thank goodness for the English speaking world—we can finally experience a full collection of Benarroch's poetry in English.

The shorter poems in the collection tend to have a common theme—that being love. In The Immigrant's Lament, Love is not some rose-colored ideal; rather, it is a characteristic that is colored by the experiences around and behind the speaker. While these poems are wonderful, the centerpiece of the collection is, without a doubt, the titular piece. It is a twenty-page tour-de-force. The punctuation, and lack thereof, is used to excellent effect. The lack of sentence structure makes the piece feel like a litany, and the repetition of phrases adds to the solemn mood of reciting the past. After a period appears, you can expect a change, however so slight, in the topic on the surface of the poem—what events Benarroch is recounting. The underlying subject remains through these changes; the exploration of the identity of a twice-immigrant, seeming separation from everything around him, confusions that take root in confusions. The piece does not culminate in final understanding or acceptance (as most of these self-reflections tend to do). Rather than reminiscing about a faded scar from an old wound, Benarroch is reopening a wound that never healed in order to cleanse it from infection.

Benarroch has a way of exploring the unconventional in an even more unconventional way. For example, as an immigrant to Israel from Morocco, he does not look back fondly at his motherland. In fact, the reader can almost detect a faint distaste for the past in Benarroch's syntax, especially when taken in the vein of New Criticism. Though I personally do not subscribe to this view, it is useful with poetry—it is, after all, an art where word choice must be precisely chosen.

Overall, I would recommend this book wholeheartedly, with a confident 4 out of 4 stars.

The Immigrant's Lament 
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