"Her primary focus, her point of departure, is New York City, about which she has written with unsparing and humorous vision, in love and in sorrow, for decades. It is her unerring vision of the immediate that gives this New York poet a global voice."—Marilyn Hacker, author of Names: Poems
"Belying all of prior literary history, a currently fashionable critical dictum holds that any poetry engaging the real world is necessarily impure and unworthy of respect or admiration. D. H. Melhem’s powerful Art and Politics / Politics and Art kicks down the door of that comfy salon and lets in the fresh air of heroism, of racial equality, of courageous feminism, of social conscience, of pacifism."—Philip Appleman, author of New and Selected Poems, 1956–1996
"Especially now, when most of the world is suffering, this is the kind of poetry I am looking for. It is so rare—engaged, grappling with issues, and deeply human—in short, political."—Edward Field, author of After the Fall: Poems Old and New
Probing, wide-ranging, brimming with passion and outrage, Melhem’s eighth collection of poems grips the reader with accounts of individual triumphs and the ongoing catastrophic conflicts of our world. The author draws on her years as a painter and sculptor to bring a distinct visual and tactile quality to her poetry.
In this volume, Melhem proceeds from robust individual portraits through observable terrains to traumatic visions of war. “Certain Personae” ranges from black writers to Abraham Lincoln, from a portrait of the suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton to the poetry of John Updike, and finishes with paintings of Hannibal crossing the Alps. In “Mostly Political,” the poems traverse the local and the universal: melting polar ice caps, capitalism, a painting by Max Ernst interpreted in antithetical ways, and a poem surveying Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the context of international events. “Wars,” the third and last section, gives intimate and searing glimpses of the Trojan War, World War I, the Gulf War, the Iraq war, and the conflict over Palestine.
D. H. Melhem has won an American Book Award and the RAWI Lifetime Achievement Award, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times. She is the author of seven books of poetry, a trilogy of novels, and three nonfiction books. New York Poems, Blight, and Stigma & the Cave are all available from Syracuse University Press.