The poems of The Black Beach describe everyday acts like putting children to bed, coaching Little League, and sending a daughter to school, but brood over what may be behind the everyday and how to reach it and talk to it. Faith ebbs and flows like the tide on a “black beach of heaven,” while these poems maintain skepticism, denying transcendence beyond what is available through love, the senses, and experience.
“The Black Beach constantly delights with its questing, surprising, and not-easily-satisfied imagination. But simultaneously it creates an exacting and exhilarating vision of ‘God, the undoer that does.’ The speaker who, in one poem, stands in the moment ‘love/what is not,’ is the same one who, in another poem, imagines ‘the black beach of heaven where all desire/ is merged, twinned, recovered, braided, and set ablaze.’”—Andrew Hudgins, Judge
“A dark brilliance shines in these honed, memorable poems of the human predicament: that of a sentient particle with a mind for the infinite. ‘Looking for meaning/ the way radio waves sought Marconi,’ Barbarese’s restless imagination searches through the stations of the daily to the ‘very end of the dial/ the static that never signs off,’ and turns back to receive what we have, the ‘lonely surprised heart/ shaken . . . ’”—Eleanor Wilner, author of The Girl with Bees in Her Hair
“Barbarese has an uncanny ability to size up the urban scene, then hallow and harrow it. Putting his daughter on the local train for the city, he conjures up those who rode in the boxcars to the ovens. And, leaning over ‘winged rot . . . glued . . . to shat-on grass’ in a nearby park, he can think ‘how beautiful,/ the hard frost had cemented/ what had lived to what never did.’ He wins me over in poem after poem.”—Maxine Kumin, author of The Long Marriage