With grace and gravity, with a gentle, quiet tenacity, Rachel Tzvia Back brings the poetics of indeterminacy to bear on Israel's over-determined landscape. Her verse hurts as the land itself has been hurt: its rippling music is delicate and achieved, its evocation of intimacy stunning. As political as it is personal, Azimuth shows us again, how history and linguistic horizons meet, and who we are or might be before them.
Meditative as they are, with a syntax lapping at itself, the phrase terse but musical, the lines borrowing and extending a talismanic lexicon, with a quieter, parenthetical voice modifying the quiet, insistent voice, with meanings catching in the inflection of the silence, Rachel Tzvia Back’s poems are psalms on a journey. While Milton’s Satan finds in the lowest deep a lower deep, Back finds in shrouds of white silence and space that god follows. Rereading Azimuth, I felt (again!) the hair on the back of my neck rising.