ISBN is

9780375705410 / 0375705414

Handwriting: Poems

by

Publisher:Vintage

Edition:Softcover

Language:English

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About the book:

Sumptuous, steamy, downright sexy: on the blush-o-meter Ondaatje scores a 10. Those who can't get enough of his melodious prose--most notably in The English Patient, which earned him a Booker in 1992--will find the same lyrical genius in his verse. In this collection Ondaatje transports us to his childhood home of Sri Lanka. With strikingly sensuous imagery, he conjures a land of bangles, cattle bells, stilt-walkers and a 1000- year-old buddha "buried in Anuradhapura earth, eyes half closed, hands / in a gesture of meditation...roots / like the fingers of a blind monk / spread for two hundred years over his face." As the title suggests, Handwriting is an elegaic tribute to the ancients who in "wild cursive scripts...spent all their years / writing one good book" only to be killed for toasting "the work of the day / the shadow pleasures of night...while there was war to celebrate." In his Sanskrit and Tamil love poem, "The Nine Sentiments," Ondaatje not only proves most definitively that music is the key to unlocking a reader's heart, but also argues for the healing powers of poetry in times of strife:

The brush of sandalwood along a collarbone
Green dark silk
A shoe left
on the cadju tree terrace
these nights when 'pools are
reduced by constant plungings'
Meanwhile a man's burning heart
his palate completely dry
on the Galapitigala Road
thinking there is water in the forest
The final poem, "Last Ink," explains why the need to preserve human experience through art is as instinctive as the desire to die in a lover's arms. Dealing with large-scale emotions and scenes of love and war, these are poems that strike to the heart. --Martha Silano

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