...I want to believe the sun
hovered in the lark’s throat before it flew away,
before we saw the white wall rise behind each other’s
eyes, remnant from when we held a howl in our hands
and tried to write the story of forgiveness.
“[Oka] writes with one foot in time, the other in timelessness. These poems in her newest collection Salvage are small fires to light the way. They are lit by urgent need. With these poems, we will make it through.”
“The gods of poetry occasionally are lavish with their gifts, choosing to endow a writer with special access to their mysteries: Cynthia Dewi Oka is such a one, a migrant whose powerful poems embody and defy history’s savage dislocations.”
“I love the mythical depth, the civic outcry, the lyric inventiveness of these poems. But most of all, I love how how beautifully music is made patiently from the sorrow, how a human “holds his breath, secretly / chains to a single note all the mutinies inside him–” A powerful book.”
“[Oka’s] poems are species of invention and surrender, ceremonies of memory and reckoning. Over and over I am surprised by a diction this lucid, this precise, this feral. No one else writes like this.”
“To read Cynthia Dewi Oka’s second collection of poems, Salvage, is an experience akin to entering a dream world, both lush with threat and glistening with beauty. Oka, who immigrated with her family from Bali, Indonesia to Canada in 1996 due to ethnic and religious tensions, is a poet who is “always approaching the edge of a foreign land.” Her poems are continually on the move—shifting and bleeding into one another, threaded by an intuitive dream logic where everything is disjointed and yet simultaneously true… [In] lieu of redemption, Oka demands accountability. In lieu of erasure, she demands that we not look away. In lieu of compartmentalization, she demands wholeness.”
JULIA BOUWSMA, read the full review.
Available now in bookstores and via Northwestern University Press or Amazon.
For a taste, see videos.