Only love has the strength to redeem the facts of aging, regret, losing loved ones or suffering into a form of peace. Joanne Samraney has the talent and vision to make it a lyrical peace. She writes of a yellow dress she wishes she could give to the woman in the chair she is wheeling, of meeting a friend diagnosed with leukemia and recalling a high school dance when they both wore pink, of a gift from her hospitalized sister that she never wore but wishes she had (“All I think of is you”), and of “music of boxes” filled with memorabilia, a harmonica and letters saved as sacred reminders of an earlier time. Each of these sixty-three poems makes you feel what familial, filial and marital love really means. It’s only a rare and mature poet who can do justice to these themes, but Joanne Samraney does it in this treasure of a book.
–Samuel Hazo, PhD, professor emeritus, Duquesne University; founder and director of International Poetry Forum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania until it closed.
Split, a collection of poems, results from Joanne Samraney’s lifelong search for symmetry in the lives of women, many of them family figures. The tone is sensuous as she interweaves past and present, sometimes surrealistically, in an aggressive approach to understand what is durable about the feminine experience. Without apology, she fears the rootlessness of the present age, yet struggles with what is usable and worthwhile from a traditional past. Splits are not easily traversed, especially for a poet who treasures her clear vision of a world that no longer exists.
Split, resonant in passion, is recommended for readers who yearn for the simple ceremonies of a coherent past but also believe in the continuousness of life. Writing poetry is in itself an act of Samraney’s faith: A speck/of dust,/reminds us/ we shall return/and return/and return.
–Ellie Wymard, PhD, rtd. Director MFA, Carlow University
Split by Joanne Matone Samraney is a stunning book of bravery and sensuality. When we read: …My feet belong to the fish/living under the moon…, we jump in. We begin to travel with and beyond the body, through time and dreams. In poems that don’t shy away from death, but seem to embrace the relentless ambivalence of being alive, Samraney shows us how to spin, to split open to the evocative and the totally grounded at the same time: Think of life as a wide river… This book, this love story chews on life and spits it out, savoring all of it.
–Jan Beatty Jackknife: New and Selected Poems, University of Pittsburgh Press