Kafka had a few works published in his life, yet his influence spreads beyond literature to philosophy--his charters meeting bizarre circumstances, alienation, and absurdity. The title of the poetry collections comes from one of Kafka's letters and is also the title of one of the the poems.
There are several poems examining the relationship of Kafka and his father through Biblical allusions, most notably the story of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac. Kafka’s character and his world reveal themselves not unlike layers of an onion. We feel we know them better with each poem. Three pages of notes at the end of the collection include details such as the word “pater” means father, as well as background quotes from Kafka’s many letters.
It takes a lot of craftsmanship to have readers get inside the personalities and the culture of the characters in poems based on scholarship and detailed research—a huge task; all of the poems stick to the topic of Kafka and explore aspects of his family and his times. The last of the 47 free verse poems, “Kafka’s Nocturne,” uses revealing lines in its penultimate stanza: “Rumination and obsession—/guests who sit on the bed he won’t occupy/ with a lover….”
Carol Smallwood is a multi-Pushcart nominee. Her In Hubble’s Shadow (Shanti Arts, 2017) is her 4th poetry collection. Her Women on Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching (McFarland) is on Poets & Writers Magazine's list of Best Books for Writers.
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