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Iron into Flower by Yvette Neisser

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Iron Into Flower by Yvette Neisser is a journey into memory and identity shifts, following the passing of loved ones and divorce and even the journey of motherhood. In her opening poem, “The Arc of the Sun,” a mother takes a trip to Mexico and comes back changed, full of stories she didn’t want to share, and a new perspective, living life moment to moment. Travel can do that to us, inform our perspectives, shift our beings, and move us into a place where we are changed.

Travel weaves in and out of these poems like a teacher providing new perspectives and changing people profoundly. In “Compass Points,” the narrator stumbles “into adulthood,/veering from crevice to crevice,/scraping for my own space,/” reminding us that to traverse the world is to find oneself, carve out our own spaces, while being rooted in family and home like the rings of a tree — “the years … etched rings around my life/first with you, then without you.”

In “Nonfiction,” readers will learn how memory can be parsed out to new generations, even if the entire past is held back. A grandmother shares Holocaust through songs sung in barracks, but she also instills a mantra of “Never again” to the generations that follow. The narrator asks, “Have I borne it well?/Should I wield it/or hide behind it?” only to remind us “It’s not easy, you know,/clamping the lid/on the revolution.//”

By the final section of the collection, Iron Into Flower by Yvette Neisser, the poet has traversed through memory, history, culture, and so much more, to emerge into the flower she is today.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Poet:

Yvette Neisser is the author of Grip, winner of the 2011 Gival Poetry Prize. Founder of the DC-Area Literary Translators Network (DC-ALT), her translations from Spanish include South Pole/Polo Sur by María Teresa Ogliastri and Difficult Beauty: Selected Poems by Luis Alberto Ambroggio. She also contributed to the anthology Knocking on the Door of the White House: Latino and Latina Poets of Washington, D.C.

Yvette has taught creative writing, poetry translation, and literature at numerous institutions, including the George Washington University, Catholic University, and The Writer’s Center (Bethesda, MD). She has lectured on translation at venues such as the Library of Congress, the Embassy of Argentina, and Georgetown University. For several years, she was a roving “poet in the schools” in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC.

Her passion for international affairs and cultures has been a driving force in both her writing and her professional career. After studying in Egypt and Israel, her work in international development and research has taken her to Africa, the Middle East, South America, and Europe.

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