The three interrelated sections of poetry in Fair Sun explore the primary importance of connection, both with other human beings and with the natural world. In the first section, the poems are wide-ranging in locale and reference, exploring the acquisition of language, specifically the ways in which the experience and distance embedded in language darken and threaten the edenic, prelapsarian qualities of a childhood spent close to the natural world. There are poems that enact the sudden possibilities of speech, the complexities of translation, the bewilderment of the bilingual speaker, both fluent and tongue-tied. The second section consists of a series of prose poems titled “Andranik.” In these poems, a child is speaking with her grandfather who relates, in answer to her questioning (she knows what to ask, his answers are as familiar to her as nursery rhymes), the details of his survival during the Armenian Genocide: his escape, the murder of his father, the suicide of his sister, the death of his best friend, forced marches, enslavement – all punctuated by memories of an earlier boyhood spent chasing ducks, swimming in the river, sleeping on mats under the stars. The final section contains shorter lyric poems set mainly in New England, poems that explore the proximity of life and death, the complicity and interdependency of the individual in the collective, and the redemptive possibilities of sympathy.
Susan Barba has perfected her poet’s gift for thinking in images, moving with efficient grace. —Robert Pinsky
Susan Barba creates an eerie mix of delicacy and terror. Her poems are chalices. —Rosanna Warren