The Hunt on the Lagoon
Sheldon Zitner summed up his career in a seven-word poem: "Here lies, as usual, a Jew d'esprit." The genial wit of "Trial Epithet" informs the whole of this deeply moving collection by a poet and scholar whom A.F. Moritz describes as "a man of the world in the best sense."
Whether he is celebrating life's infinite creativity, recognizing the joy imprisoned in a wheelchair-bound man, or affirming art's mission to outlast atrocity, Zitner unswervingly follows Rilke's injunction to join "work of the eyes" with "heart-work." In the collection's title poem, Zitner states that "we invent the world we love, /and like the painter's eyes, our own /persuade the hard discrete details /. . . to surrender to a luminous belonging."
Throughout this wonderful collection, many such revelatory moments are caught and many details rendered with equal luminosity. Writing completely without sentimentality, Zitner nonetheless composed his poems with an underlying tenderness and a sadness always held in check by his characteristic urbanity and his epigrammatic wit.
The Hunt on the Lagoon is Zitner's final work. These last poems, and all his poems, are things into which he breathed his spirit, and where he can still be met. A poet to the last, The Hunt on the Lagoon is a fitting monument, an inspired book about absence and loss, about the transience of bliss.
"Whether Sheldon Zitner is celebrating life's infinitely prolific creativity ("The Maternity Dress"), lamenting the intimacy and joy imprisoned in a wheelchair-bound hospital patient ("The Transfer);;, or affirming art's mission to outlast atrocity ("Return from School after the Storm"), these deep-seeing poems show him unswervingly following Rilke's injunction to join 'work of the eyes' with 'heart-work.' Zitner's poems leave us feeling how lucky our hearts are to be touched by him — so widely knowing, so profoundly sensitive." — John Reibetanz
Pub date: September 30, 2005