CIRCLE DANCERS: Poems
by Diana Der-Hovanessian
FROM THE LIBRARY JOUNAL: Adrienne Rich has said of Der-Hovanessian, "I feel her poems in me, the sense of destruction and unquenchable life...I feel admitted in some way to her Armenian culture and experience." Indeed, the poet's dual cultural perspective instills every poem in this strong, vibrant collection with an aura of imaginative wonder that life can contain beauty and spirit despite its horrors. Der-Hovanessian's work is deeply affected by her Armenian heritage. After her New England home is robbed, she writes, "The detective asked if I'd been robbed before./ I thought of jewels buried in the ground/ As Armenian families fled the sound/ of shooting,...[I]/ Answered what he wanted, 'No.'" Some of her poems are short-lined maxims whose brevity lend a sense of urgency, of writing on the run; others feature marvelous inner rhymes; still others are strict rhyme schemes?a villanelle, for example. Always her ear is alert for the chance of rhythm and sound play: "And Armenian words have worn thin/ like old coins, changed, exchanged in vain,/ gaining a soft patina unmatched/ except by old monasteries in the rain."