Classical Training Invigorates Deeply Emotional Poetry
Reviewer: Judy Katz
Poetry of any kind is an acquired taste. The poetry of antiquity----Hindu, Persian, Greek, and Roman further narrows the poetry-reading audience. This book has both, but it is also unique and hopefully will find an eager audience. Nonetheless,to position oneself as a poet in contemporary society is daring. Clearly, from his introduction and his history, "POET" is what Aaron Poochigian wants to be--and he certainly is! In a recent interview with him that I read, Poochigian said: "My interest in poetry became a sense of obligation, the feeling that this is something bigger than myself, and I want to honor that calling."
As he reports, he is half Armennian, was raised in North Dakota and California, and as a young boy never felt entirely at home in any area as a result of his eclectic background struggling over the years to find his niche in American society.
This new book, The Cosmic Purr, tels me he has found himself. A collection of original poems and translations, it seems to truly encapsulate his lifetime journey as a poet and a man. I have now read it at least a dozen times, and carry it with me wherever I go.
The book is divided into three sections. The first section, "Americana" deals with his experience as an outsider in the Midwest. The second section "A Place in France," deals with his ongoing struggles writing love poetry for a contemporary audience no longer comfortable with sentimentality. The final section, "The Light at Troy" lets Poochigian display his knowledge of the classical world, and unleash the strong character voices inside himself.
Poochigian's ability to articulate the common occurrences of life in richly detailed verse is reminiscent of an ancient style of poetry. In fact, Poochigian's academic education and mentoring by noted classicist poets instills a sense of rapture in his modern verse, some of which remind one of the poetry of Sappho, whose poems he has often translated, and for which he has won a number of awards and accolades.
His illustration of sights, sounds and emotional landscapes, from North Dakota to mythical Greece, are consistently compelling. His verses address life realistically, and he has the rare gift of weaving the essences of ancient poetic traditions into the modern landscape, which fills his poems with vibrant meaning and energy.
Insum, I want to convey that this is a poet to watch, and, first and foremost, a wonderful book to enjoy. Read it and feel "the cosmic purr." It will definitely move and inspire you.