For Instance, by Eli Goldblatt. Poetry. ISBN 978-1-946104-16-8. 114 pages.
Reproductions from woodcut prints by Wendy Osterweil and drawings by Michael Moore.
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In a sentence, the phrase “for instance” follows an assertion or argument, and precedes a series of examples. Eli Goldblatt gives us myriad examples unconnected to a thesis, except insofar as the thesis asserts what is. This is a world composed of bombings, wars, bad history, framed in a private space of family, garden and dream-work (which often takes us back to all the bad histories). In a larger sense, the book is an elegy—for his dear friend Gil Ott, and for a world where fascists lose. But “even in Barcelona, Franco won.” “War grows” in the poet’s mind, erupting in museums and in his son, who “emerges into the sunlight stabbing, punching, blasting his enemies.” Words are like tattoos; they scar. The poet craves “a language beyond all this talk, / words erupting beneath words that evict / or seduce, dominate or sell.” Goldblatt’s book offers a public and private MRI; we do not yet have the results, so we can only hope for the best. Our best consolation may be that we have this map of one poet’s decency and care.
— Susan M. Schultz
Reading Eli Goldblatt’s For Instance provides delights of a kind one can hope for, sometimes even expect, but never predict. In this copious and wide-ranging new collection, Goldblatt writes from within a closely attuned, deeply committed attention to that dance of limits & potentialities we call daily experience. Where there is a wall or other obstruction, his words seek a gap or to create the gap – space that leads through. Miraculously, it is precisely the light on the other side, the light he will find, that illuminates Goldblatt’s search. At the same time, a constituent gravity shapes the poems of this book; their articulations offer the possibility for – but they also demand – the close embrace of re-reading. Here is a book for time, one to return to and discover its moment renewed again and again.
— Tom Mandel