Nearly Terminal resonates with a sense of foreboding at what may be seen as the social collapse of the individual self in a society that is being 'whitened out.' Incorporating and intertwining aspects of the personal love relationship with a sense of a self under scrutiny, by itself and an imagined Other, the focus becomes one of loss, solitude, and the existential sense of being in a vast universe that is defined by traces of life increasingly lived as forms of abstraction within a virtual, disembodied reality. With a younger audience in mind, with poetic diction that is not afraid to be bold and experimental in its statements and claims, and with a delicate use of techniques evoking lacunae and erasure to convey the unanswerability of some basic existential questions, Eleni Zisimatos presents a bleak and uncertain view of the world.
“Eleni Zisimatos opens Nearly Terminal with a Dantean warning: ‘The death of human consciousness is white.’ Yes: To venture onto these imposing white pages is to navigate a blinding snowscape where words are the sparse objects that poke out of the drifts, like inukshuks, suggesting directions and meanings that are impos- sible to pinpoint, to pin down, because they are jests of gestures, as revealing in their amplitude as are ‘Cut up clouds.’ Nearly Terminal recalls Dame Atwood’s Journals of Susanna Moodie, but also John Thompson’s barely there ghazals, all that blank space Blitzkrieg’d by incandescent inklings, those dark flashes of insight amid the vacant, Arctic desert of ‘Such white,’ ‘much despair,’ where winter means erasure, ‘a white eclipse.’” – George Elliott Clarke
Eleni Zisimatos's first collection of poetry ... is a book to read in winter, for the companionship of solitude and the hovering, precarious balance between nostalgia and hope that can make any meditation seem like a Zen koan.' - The Montreal Review of Books, Spring 2020
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