May 2009

Jacquelyn Davis


Dear Dearly Departed by Harold Abramowitz

Beginning and ending with the same phrase “Dear Dearly Departed” to a lengthy yet necessary missive to an unknown listener, much is to be expected in between the point of entrance and exit, though the book's sheer magnitude is difficult to decipher, yet prevailing. Harold Abramowitz's second book (following his earlier chapbook Three Column Table) utilizes repetitions, short and brash lines, declarations of feelings and slippery absolutisms, as well as follows through with an examination of numerous dichotomies -- such as lover-enemy, absence-presence, life-death, love-hate, progress-regression, man-woman, child-adult, order-chaos, ad infinitum. Abramowitz has the reader on a sophisticated escapade; your ride is sure to be eloquent and well-deliberated. Dear Dearly Departed is one exploded paragraph -- though not to be confused with Vanessa Place's 50,000 word, run-on sentence of a novel Dies: A Sentence. Yet, both works of art can be considered avant-garde, in that they push the interpreter into fresh literary architectures, if even somewhat uncomfortable, as well as breaking through previous notions of what a poetic body of work needs to investigate and via what avenues and methods of dissection.

The narrator's path is contradictory; his perspective efficiently twists and turns displaying the moods of many who may be gliding through this piece, and more importantly, through this time period where many of us are situated in transit, pushing towards some kind of more solid closure. For instance, Abramowitz writes, “The seasons have changed me. I have, so to speak, changed with the seasons. And I don't mean that. I don't mean this.” Or another example of the narrator's ability to quickly shift gears: “But things don't end. They do end. Things don't end. But they really do end.” But what is the point of displaying such unnerving instability (or what could also be read as humanness)? One might gather that the process of writing through such events actually releases the writer and reader from their power all together.

And sadly, this text -- at some point -- will end as well, even though this is one poetic vortex that one isn't so interested in leaving, if even after a few pages into it. Dear Dearly Departed can be likened to melatonin, in that it has a particular inner rhythm and balance and becomes a stabilizing unit in-and-of itself. Yet, within this particular literary drug, Abramowitz concocts variegated moods and sinusoidal phases. One minute, the reader might be feeling calm and satisfied by Abramowitz's consonance, alliteration, exposure to repetitive trance-like phrases such as “Look into the room. Look deeper into the room. Look deeper into the room” or “The time, and the time before that. The time and the time before that” or “A whole world, and, in the end, a whole world. A whole world of people.” Another minute, the reader might feel impatient by this epistolary's reluctance to accommodate you. Dear Dearly Departed is extremely satisfying to the edgy, anxious reader in view -- there is no way to dodge the honesty, love and sensitivity present on each page. Love is repeated, sadness resurfaces, and such sentiments could leave you feeling relieved of some thorn or malady that you didn't even realize you were harboring -- until it is gone. Absolutely gone or Dear Dearly Departed.

Dear Dearly Departed By Harold Abramowitz
Palm Press
ISBN: 0978926250
70 pages