Finger to Finger (Downloadable PDF)
by Keith Garebian
In his tenth poetry collection, Keith Garebian writes with savage honesty about love and its discontents, art, travel, disease, and aging. The poems have revealing gestures and situations, all drawn from personal experience. Though pared down, they have edge, and their lyrical fluency, with striking turns of feeling and imagery, never obscure the poet’s beating heart and vulnerabilities.
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Keith Garebian is the author of nineteen books of non-fiction and ten previous poetry collections. He is the winner of the William Saroyan Medal (Armenia), and numerous other awards for writing. His poetry has been translated into French, Romanian, Bulgarian, Hebrew, Armenian, and Hungarian.
In his elegant and poignant Finger to Finger, Keith Garebian unsettles memories of a lifetime’s loves—lost, sabotaged, and survived—in order to explore “what transpires in the surprised heart.” The poems in this verse-memoir are often unsparingly self-critical, managing to not only transcribe but transcend remorse as the speaker reckons with his own previously unacknowledged queer desire. A writer who holds many other voices within his own—Herrick, Merrill, Gilbert—Garebian crafts intimate theatres of recollection whose players pose resonant questions about the self and other, youth and ageing, health and illness. “We are, each of us, / the ocean in a beached shell,” writes Garebian in one of Finger to Finger’s final poems, “yearning for the song of ourselves.” The “fixed needle” of Garebian’s gaze is piercing and moving in equal measure; it guides us resolutely, memorably, into the worries and wonders of love.
~ Michael Prior, author of Burning Province
Here is poetry of authentic pith and marrow. Its precise, penetrating and evocative language portrays intimate relationships from viewpoints in which a wise detachment merges with compassion. Finger to Finger becomes a model of how the parade of characters and scenes along anyone’s life-journey might be justly yet touchingly re-evaluated, not only with the benefits of hindsight but through unsparing self-honesty and tough love.
~ Allan Briesmaster, author of The Long Bond and Windfor