Loving in Time of War
An unpretentious house hiding Jews in the war, a modern-day bus terminal, a bed vacant of its lover and an 1847 Irish trial over the death of a sheep are all examples of the poems? locations, but it is Aliesan’s subject matter that succeeds as one of the most compelling aspects of her writing.
The reader is shifted from century to century while constantly faced with “historical and present injustices.” Yet there emerges a tone of perseverance shaped as kind gestures and unselfish acts, or more aptly put, moments of love in various times of war. It is through these intimate portrayals that Aliesan gives new life to history, creating an engaging and fresh perspective.
Several poems shine while exhibiting simple and technically effective craftsmanship, one of which is left free of grammatical punctuation. The poem “prayer” consists of essentially the same stanza repeated four times with several words altered in each group. Aliesan softly begins with a general frame of mind and ends with an intimate accusation. Or the piece “arrhythmia” which starts with “a small bird fluttering in your heart” and creatively winds through several strikingly different circumstances in order to end with that same bird, “it’s eyes fierce and golden, ready for the open sky.”
Although saturated and somewhat overboard with outside quotes, Aliesan’s admirable attempts at exposing history remain the strongest aspect of this collection. It would make for an interesting match in conjunction with academic studies focused on such historical events and tragedies.