The New American: Selected Poems (Published by Gilford Press, USA, 2006, pp. 99, $17.95, ISBN 81-8253-066-0)
Mary Barnet's The New American, a collection of poems with illustrations by her husband Richard E. Schiff, reveals that Barnet is a poet of supreme poetic genius. We find melody and perfect finish in her poems:
I am reborn.
Each day renewed.
I am renewed. I am!
I am! I am!
("I Sit and Wait", p. 18)
In the line "I am! I am!" the poet's emotions and words seem to sing together. In several poems Barnet is pursuing the unknown and the infinite. "Sun" shows her passion 'to touch the stars...To pluck a sun Like a newborn from the womb!' In the poem "Cup", the poet wants to 'quench' her 'thirst for silence', 'To hold an empty cup- To be filled with the void' (p.30). She wants to unravel 'the source of life itself' ( "Artist" ), but the answer to all unintelligible questionings will be discovered by her only through life itself;
The sermon she had come to hear was
Life sings so sweetly
I strain to hear it all.
( "The Fruit", p. 20)
Though still on me life's cruelties prey
Life herself is my shrine.
Barnet is a poet of heightened imaginative feeling in quest of unexplored and mysterious world. Rickett aptly observes, "The subtle sense of mystery is a complex emotion compounded of awe in the presence of the unknown, wonder in the presence of the known and an exquisite response to manifestations of beauty wherever they may be found that we may call for a better word -Rapture." This intelligent comment is truly applicable about Barnet's collection The New American.
The poems included in The New American are immortal for extraordinary lines: "I have all and nothing", "Yesterday's tomorrow is today", "All that I can see / Disappears before I can grasp it", "By my horse's dung the flowers cannot be defiled!", " As always, I am writing in the darkness / By your side", " I think a poem, like a man, can bleed", "In silence there is a song", "There is no room for poetry here!".