All Odd and Splendid
Wesleyan University Press, 2008
About the Book:
Following her latest book, What Becomes You, a memoir co-written with her transgendered son Aaron, Hilda Raz’s new collection of poems is an exploration of lives and selves transformed by choice and by chance. Formally and thematically diverse, these poems are testament to the will to redefine oneself in a world of constant, and often painful, change. Beginning intimately with poems of personal examination and moving gradually to the world of shared experience, Raz rethinks the structures of family and community while examining the impact of loss and growth. All Odd and Splendid takes its title from a quotation attributed to Diane Arbus, the American photographer known for her portraits. Raz’s poems share Arbus’s steadfast celebration of the strangeness in the ordinary, bringing us into contact with a beauty and pain that are inseparable when we see things as they truly are.
“This is Raz’s strongest book to date: a gentle quotidian view of the world that then twists toward the sardonic/tragic; or else a steady drumbeat of hard life, out of which happiness and beauty flower.”—Janet Burroway, author of Writing Fiction
“Hilda Raz's All Odd and Splendid is unique, accomplished, and turns the ‘genderings’ of the world upside down, as they need be turned upsidedown. The poems are psychologically innovative and deft. There are tones of a masterpiece in this work.”
—John Kinsella, author of The New Arcadia
Fire Should Be Measured by What Didn’t Burn
National Public Radio News
Passion is inferred by what isn’t said.
Absence will be valued by the one who notices first.
Pleasure can be ranked by all other thoughts kept out.
Fatigue is always spoken in a narrow range of voice.
Wars are justified by the troops who didn’t die.
Progress is best measured when sleep shuts out the rain.
Fidelity is most natural when the ear believes in pressure.
Hunger is most keen when the menu spreads like ice.
Will takes up its post when the mind is bent on territory.
Resolve will turn to weeping when the curtain falls fast.
Lapis cracks but slowly as pearls are ground to dust.
Medicine’s no specific unless the alternative is rust.
Sacrifice can have no meaning if the witness turns away.
The field is only battle when the mess hall shuts its doors.
Wind brings down the enterprise, no matter our delight.
The crowd moves toward the exit when the puppet master speaks.
We search the web for meaning if our dinner table’s bleak.
A life’s measured value is who didn’t come to call.
Noise can best be noted by the silence afterward.
Death can have no meaning. That’s what we learned in school.
Your going into silence is the thing we can’t endure.
Whatever comes will come. Leaves are flying in the cold.
The flocks about their maps. The cord wood in the frame.
We’ve made the best we can of the absence and the void.
The furniture of living’s exquisite. Believe it. Say no more.
Keep all the curtains open. In the window flies the snow.