Our Age of Anxiety - Henry Israeli
$17.00, ISBN 978-1-945680-30-4
Henry Israeli’s Our Age of Anxiety reflects the discomfort of our present moment in history when the world as we’ve known it has seemingly come unhinged. Taking its title from W.H. Auden’s controversial book length meditation on his era, Our Age of Anxiety blends elements of the author’s personal life with a natural world that has been upended by existential fear and doubt. Mannequins dive from planes, dogs wear hats, snakes devour children, fathers disguise themselves as creatures that roam suburban backyards, cities are crumbling, and the dead return with guns buried in their skulls. These are just a few of the areas Israeli’s poems touch upon as they reach past the reality of our day to day existence and explore, with humor and horror, the emotional underpinnings of living life with a dreadful uncertainty.
“Our Age of Anxiety radiates a dark equanimity, finality's ultimate grace. The poems' wisdom is quietly astonishing, shot through with surreal and measured threads of satire. Much is revealed here about our falling world and human illusion. Cities are re-absorbed back into nature's grand plan. The problems of suffering and of the dead and their eternal grip on us are sung of as these poems search for and find, among our beautiful ruins, fresh redemptions.”
“Our Age of Anxiety is filled with an anxiety whose company is a true pleasure. These poems enact amazing transformations—everything in the world is capable of changing into everything else, and nothing is too lowly to astonish. A flea beetle attack proves quite alarming! There are also moments of startling surprise here, when Israeli reaches out of the poem to address the reader, to pull you even closer. In this book Eastern European dark playfulness and an American cinematic eye meet up in the middle of a nameless city that has way too many banks for things to turn out well.”
“When I read Our Age of Anxiety, I feel invited in and swept along. His precise, surreal imagery gives me the chills. Same for his diction, which is so sharp and exact it could cut glass. At times, I feel like I have fallen into a painting by Rene Magritte. A man with a dog’s head searches for a fashionable hat. A fox tries on a shirt and pants and pretends to be a man. A lion carries a human baby in its mouth. I admire how, in just a handful of poems, and without naming any politician, Israeli powerfully evokes the disbelief and terror many people feel at this moment in history, and this undercurrent resonates throughout the collection. In the title poem, he writes “I’ve felt myself entangled / in radio waves in this aftermath.” Yet after “the last glow worm / shuts off its little bulb” and I’ve finished reading, I feel hopeful--hopeful and grateful a voice like Henry Israeli’s exists.
Henry Israeli’s poetry collections are god’s breath hovering across the waters, (Four Way Books: 2016), Praying to the Black Cat (Del Sol: 2010), and New Messiahs (Four Way Books: 2002). He is also the translator of three books by Albanian poet Luljeta Lleshanaku. He has been awarded fellowship grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Canada Council on the Arts, and elsewhere. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals including American Poetry Review, Boston Review, and The Harvard Review, as well as several anthologies. Henry Israeli is also the founder and editor of Saturnalia Books.