Life in Suspension: La Vie Suspendue
by Hélène Cardona
Salmon Poetry

"I’m learning to let go, trust the ripeness of the moment. That everything happens at the right time."

Life in Suspension is a testament to Cardona’s unique ability to make words sing on the page. From the first poem, “To Kitty,” Cardona dazzles with visually stimulating images of eyes “the color of rain,” and how “laughter burns snow.” A literary architect, Cardona pushes the exploration of many of her poems to the brink of possibility. While the casual poetry reader will enjoy the array of spectacular diction, imagery, and overall musical cadence of the piece, the hardcore enthusiast will find himself wading in a gold mine of rich thoughts and observations. To that end, audiences will find that each time they read the same poem, they will uncover a gem that went unseen in the first go-around.

The defining characteristic of Life in Suspension is its authenticity, both in presentation and style. Equipped with a dual English and French translation, it matters little whether the reader is versed in French. Each of the French versions, when read aloud, are evocative and compelling, and just downright pleasing to the ears.

Proof of the poet’s intimacy with nature is unnecessary; its evidence is scattered throughout the dozens of scintillating metaphors and personification that often examines the role of light in the world. One of the more stunning, transcendent images of the entire compilation appears in “Galactic Architect”: “From the bottom rung of a ladder in the sky/I hang in the void.” While this and all of the poems in this compilation are open to interpretation, there is certainly a strong indication that the speaker of “Galactic Architect” has a romanticized vision of breaking free from the hustle and bustle of the material world and soaring toward the quest for the world’s unknowns. It is difficult to ignore the similarities, both in imagery and the energy of the poetry to the father of the literary Romantic period, William Wordsworth’s, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.”

Even amidst the chaos and movement of Cardona’s poetry, there is a sense of grace and calm. In a peculiar way, it’s almost as if her poetry is a microcosm of the universe: amid all the chaos, there is always control. Of all the poems, the poetry compilation’s namesake is the most fitting example of this chaos versus control dichotomy. Rather than compare the “Life in Suspension” poem to the rest of the compilation, readers should consider this poem an encapsulation of the compelling, colorful, and potent nature of Cardona’s work. Although “Life in Suspension” is a poem, the interwoven narrative, with the main speaker, the Memory Collector, steals the show. The image of memories being thrust into the “fire, the cauldron of resolutions,” which “burn into embers and flickers that evolve into butterflies” is astounding and conjures all sorts of Harry Potter pensive visuals. The Memory Collector recalls a multitude of memories, increasing in age and intensity.

“A House like a Ship” and “Twisting the Moon” are among the more memorable poems, but “Spellbound” captures the spirit of Cardona’s seemingly-fervent desire to break through boundaries and return the world to its natural glory and luster. Life in Suspension is melodious in reading, but dives into uncharted metaphysical and spiritual depths as well. Poetry aficionados who relish hunting for the deeper meaning, the poem within the poem, will be thrilled by poems like “At My Funeral,” which opens up with an eye-popping line: “Somebody speaks at my funeral but I am not dead.”

Life in Suspension is poetic elegance personified, a package of stylistic flawlessness and depth of thought that belongs on the bookshelf of any poetry lover.

A 2018 Eric Hoffer Book Award Category Finalist

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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