Broken Symmetry

David Citino

In this, David Citino’s eighth full-length collection, a poet approaching the end of the twentieth century takes stock of a single life: of its family and culture, history, and beliefs; of the contemporary forces of nature, science politics, gender, and myth that shape and misshape it; of the land—and even the body—it calls home.

These are poems that take a hard look at the experience of one individual, but always in terms of place and context, and other lives. Employing “broken symmetry”—a term from high energy physics for a state in which traces of an earlier symmetry can be found—as a description of the contemporary fractured world and his own fitfully declining health, Citino seeks to know whether an unbroken symmetry ever existed, or whether it is human nature to believe fervently in some lost golden age.

Readers familiar with the work of David Citino will recognize the territories and obsessions this fine poet has explored over the past twenty years. Here are poems that investigate the credentials of saints, secular and religious; poems that seek to know how the ghosts of history come to haunt the future through the present; poems spoken by the redoubtable Sister Mary Appassionata, a character driven to believe ardently everything she is told, everything she imagines; poems that evoke the urban and rural and even moral landscapes of Ohio. And there are poems that take up new concerns and cover new territory—dire, contemporary warnings, public and personal news that disturbs, myths just now coming into being.

These are passionate, accessible poems in which, singing of joy and sorrow, certitude and doubt, a poet wonders what a life is worth.

David Citino was a professor of English and the Poet Laureate of The Ohio State University.

1997    Poetry
92 pp. 6 x 9

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