One of South America's most celebrated contemporary poets takes us on a fantastic voyage to mysterious lands and seas, into the psyche, and to the heart of the poem itself. "Night Journey" is the English-language debut of the work that won Maria Negroni an Argentine National Book Award. It is a book of dreams--dreams she renders with surreal beauty that recalls the work of her compatriot Alejandra Pizarnik, with the penetrating subtlety of Borges and Calvino.
In sixty-two tightly woven prose poems, Negroni deftly infuses haunting imagery with an ironic, personal spirituality. Effortlessly she navigates the nameless subject to the slopes of the Himalayas, to a bar in Buenos Aires, through war, from icy Scandinavian landscapes to the tropics, across seas, toward a cemetery in the wake of Napoleon's hearse, by train, by taxis headed in unrequested directions, past mirrors and birds, between life and death.
"Night Journey" reflects a mastery of a traditional form while brilliantly expressing a modern condition: the multicultural, multifaceted individual, ever in motion. Displacement abounds: a "medieval tabard" where a pelvis should be, a "lipless grin," a "beach severed from the ocean." In one poem "nomadic cities" whisk past. In another, smiling cockroaches loom in a visiting mother's eyes.
Anne Twitty, whose elegant translations are accompanied by the Spanish originals, remarks in her preface that the book's "indomitable literary intelligence" subdues an unspoken terror--helplessness. Yet, as observed by the angel Gabriel, the consoling voice of wisdom, only by accepting the journey for what it is can one discover its "hidden splendor," the "invisible center of the poem." As readers of this magnificent work will discover, this is a journey that, because its every fleeting image conjures a thousand words of fertile silence, can be savored again and again.
"One of my own newest designated dreamers is the Argentine poet Maria Negroni, whose debut volume in English, Night Journey, takes the wordless logic of dreams and turns it into her own precise, oracular music. This book is pervaded by the spooky sense of a woman traveling in many directions, most of them unrequested, jouneying through shadows and mirrors, navigating the mysteries by shuttling between life and death."--Edward Hirsch, The Washington Post "Night Journey is a collection of prose poems, each recounting a dream sequence... Many of Negroni's dreams combine elements of surrealism and lyric narrative, which creates a matrix of symbols both archetypal and idiosyncratic through which the poet confronts generally nameless, yet recognizable, fears... It reminds me that when we read wonderful poetry it's as if we are privy to a delicious rumor, and we must pass it on."--Priscila Uppal, Toronto Globe and Mail "Arising from this intricate collection is a message. The poet comes to learn that her quest is both multiple and unified; for her, the act of writing cannot be separated from loving, from remembering, from voyagin out."--John Taylor, The Antioch Review