Wound is the Origin of Wonder
I can’t undo all I have done to myself,
what I have let an appetite for love do to me.
I have wanted all the world, its beauties
and its injuries; some days,
I think that is punishment enough.
Maya C. Popa's poems explore the capacity of wonder to reawaken our appetite for the world, at a time that is fraught with the threat of endings, engaging lucidly with the most profound questions we face in our collective responsibilities and our relations with each other.
She writes with love and wonder of a world poised at a perilous moment: “My children, will they exist by the time / it’s irreversible?” she asks. “Will they live / astonished at the thought of ice / not pulled from the mouth of a machine?” Popa takes seriously the poet’s duty to pay attention, to seek what Seamus Heaney called “the images... adequate to our predicament”.
To read her poems is to pause again and again at the precision of imagery, breadth of ideas, and the warmth and generousness of her lyric voice. These are beautiful and profound lyric poems that will delay you, affect you, and invite you to return.
Whitman declared ‘what I assume you shall assume’ and Popa’s audacious reply is to transcend deadlock and reveal beauty wherever her gently subversive lyric freely wanders, with phrases freshly minted in lines whose intensity is as impactful and affirmative as lived experience.
Beautiful, musical, imaginative and blink-back playful poems. A very original voice in real lyric conversation with the self, with the other, with life and the creaturely world. A joy of a book.
Maya C. Popa’s new book is an astonishment. In ravishing, formally exploratory poems, Popa wields the lyric like a reparative scalpel, evoking wonder and woundedness in equal measure . . . Wound is the Origin of Wonder reflects to us our own historical moment with unusual clarity, even as its lyric exploration of psychic and social landscapes stand outside of time.