"In Silverman's collection the language is luxuriant and sensuous, evoking glimpses of a wide range of mid-twentieth-century life, from vibrant West Indian culture to the jarring neon cityscapes of the Northeast. The vista, geographic and human, from Guatemala to Croatia, from the returning Vietnam vet to the young amusement park rider at the Jersey shore, is wide." ~~ Bostonia
"Sue William Silverman's collection is a bracing debut--rangy, restless, and giddy with lush particulars. Geography and memory fuse into a single landscape, encompassing everything from the West Indies to the Negev, Yucatan to the Jersey Shore. It is rare to encounter a first book of poetry so willing to embrace the incantatory powers of the language, or so capable of using them to map the self." ~~ David Wojahn, Spirit Cabinet.
"Sue Silverman is widely known for the often heartbreaking prose that limns personal experience. As she turns here to lyric, her words are still deft as deft knows how to be; the poignance remains; but what a range of things and people and events and humor pervades these mouth-filling pages. She makes much of her sensory apparatus, as, given its acuteness, she is right to do; but there is also a fierce intelligence at work in Hieroglyphics in Neon, something rather akin to what the Augustans called Wit. Right brain, left brain, the whole human body: all conspire to make this book both a romp and a protracted meditation. Brava!" ~~ Sydney Lea, Ghost Pain.
"'When I push,/it yields,' writes Sue William Silverman, and in Hieroglyphics in Neon, memory is the "rusty gate" she opens, the voodoo of language to conjure up and make real the bent corner of the map or the smudge of a fingerprint, to index the relentlessness of the past from which 'we dream and awaken, awaken and dream.' It's all here, 'the defunct, the damned, the divine,' ripe for the picking." ~~ Mary Ann Samyn, Purr.
Hieroglyphics in Neon
The poetry collection, Hieroglyphics in Neon (Orchises Press), is 71 pages. Here are two poems from the collection. I hope you enjoy them! (Please note: this poetry collection includes the poetry sequence "Hieronymus Bosch's Illustrated Alphabet.")
(Asbury Park, 1965)
I lift the Venetian blind in my bedroom
to watch the young wife swaying indigo
rayon, rhinestones clasping spiked heels,
hair in a French twist, alone, her husband
rarely home, “Moonlight Sinatra” low
on her record player, the needle
grooving Jersey nights of moonlight
serenade, our shingled beach houses
so close I think I smell White Shoulders
perfume, hear her rustling skirt--me
in sweat-damp cotton pajamas,
ribboned ponytail. My parents
and sister sleeping, my bare feet feel
the vibration of the Frigidaire
downstairs, the ocean shusshing moon
song along the shore, boardwalk darkening,
only the top of the Ferris visible, wheeling
toward longing. The moon got in my eyes...
its globe glowing in one window pane
trailed in another pane by a mock moon.
And I know I am this little moon orbiting
her blue nights when we wish for more
than our small, faint hummings, distant
vinyl romance, because I am the only one
to hear the moonlight become us.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
In 75 A.D., 50,000 Roman soldiers
surround walled Jerusalem catapulting
30-ton limestone balls, dead animals,
diseased bodies, captured soldiers,
flaming objects, sand bags to blind--
all hurtling from 26-foot stock houses
built from 12 miles of trees in 10 days,
designed by Vitruvius--skeletal silhouettes
darkening a blue Mediterranean sky--
the launching mechanism a sinewy
rope from Achilles’ tendons of cows--
two and a half miles hammered, soaked,
twisted, dried, bowstring stretched
between wood arms, 9-ton torsion
pulling the slider, winch handle manually
cranked, winding the rope around the cylinder,
cocking the claw and trigger block, whipping
back and catapulting the missile 123 yards,
boulders blackened to disguise, demolishing
protective walls, city in flames. For the next
almost 2000 years it’s the same--
only much better, and only far worse.