In his first book of poetry, York English Professor David Goldstein has invented a new form – the prose sonnet, an intricate chamber of text enclosed within four quatrains of right-justified prose.
In their box-like aesthetics, the poems in Laws of Rest (BookThug) published earlier this month, conjure the weird, meticulous worlds of Joseph Cornell or Edmund Spenser. But anything can happen in these little rooms, in which the overheard conversation of taxi drivers, invented verses of Virgil, found text about Middle-Eastern geopolitics, and the music of extinct butterflies merge into unpredictable collage.
Presiding over all is the gender-bending character Lucy, the subject of a failed love affair conducted in convenience stores and equestrian centers.
The book ends with a series of poems for a friend who died young, bringing to elegaic focus the poems’ quest to understand the laws of rest (a phrase taken from the Jewish laws of Sabbath observance): the stillness of loss, the mute repose at the end of speaking.
Goldstein’s poems have appeared in journals and anthologies throughout North America, including The Malahat Review, The Paris Review, filling Station, CV2, Epoch, Harp & Altar, Jubilat, 6×6, and Octopus. He is an active literary critic, food writer, and translator. His first scholarly book, Eating and Ethics in Shakespeare’s England, is forthcoming.