Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String review by Michael Dennis
In the apocryphal story told about Yitzhak Perlman during his concert at Lincoln Center in 1995 when one of the four violin strings suddenly tore, and he proceeded to reconceive and play the entire work with three remaining strings, he said that “sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can make with what you have left.” If ever there were a work that explores the aftermath of loss, it is this powerful and highly original collection by Jacqueline Jules. “Every life is lived on a high wire,/ strung over the treetops…//Don’t expect to feel safe.” The poet reminds us not to waste time grieving over “stolen credit cards” and a “broken car on the day of a big interview.” Reminds us how “Joy sits on a seesaw with Grief.” If it’s divinity we seek, best we gather the “stone tablets” and carry them through the wilderness of time. Consolation can be “sunlight/streaming through/serrated shapes…like fingers” that “wipe” away “tears.”
—Myra Sklarew, Author of Lithuania: New & Selected Poems
What plucks at the heart strings of Jacqueline Jules’ intense poems of Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String is a dialectic between faith and loss where science mediates. “Both Science and Faith insist/ nothing is random.” Grief is a squatter—an unwanted presence after friends and family leave the bereaved. The poet dares to challenge Jean-Paul Sartre on despair and suggests to the physical therapist “better to tease a tiger/ than poke a pain.” Everything connects: Emily Dickinson, vending machines, a gypsy girl with rocks in her pockets who steps into a river. This is a smart and smarting journey through the human condition.
—Karren L. Alenier, author of The Anima of Paul Bowles
This lovely and moving collection explores what happens when grief is chronic. After the shock of initial loss, when grief becomes a daily companion, we must learn, as Jacqueline Jules wisely writes, to find music in our crippled instruments. Like Jean-Paul Sartre, we “cross that cruel river”; like Isaac Newton, our personal math proves “we are vulnerable to falling objects.”
—Kim Roberts, founding editor of Beltway Poetry Quarterly