FLOURISH: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2020
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In Flourish, multiple meanings catch light—as the leaves of growing things might, or the facets of cut gemstones, or a signal mirror flashing in distress. These poems explore themes of thriving, growth, innovation, and survival, while immersing the reader in the pleasures of language itself—the “flourish” of linguistic gesture, play, form, turn, and adornment.
Here, the lens zooms in and out to micro and macro levels, asking us to see the familiar with new eyes. The collection engages with the materials of the worlds we inhabit—natural worlds and those of our own making—and a full spectrum of poetry’s own materials, building worlds of words and illuminating the shadowed terrain of our interior landscapes as well.
“Malech wields an elegant knife. A reader wowed by her brilliant imagery might overlook the terror in a line like, ‘Though his eyes are open, the dead man is not all that moved by the stars.’ These poems examine the violence about us. Malech’s landscapes are full of ‘bloody lullabies,’ ‘sweet asylum,’ ‘lexical kaleidoscopes,’ and sentences ‘bursting at as if all else / were seams, field sown to open, / reveling in its unraveling.’ Flourish is dazzling.”
— Terrance Hayes, author of American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin
“What a brilliant book. Page after page one finds lines one wants to write down. Here is poetry that is unafraid to see us clearly. In this time of injustice, what can one poet do? How can that one ‘pair of wings on fire’ lift us out of our predicament? Open this book to find out. Find that there is, after all, what this poet calls this ‘pesky tenderness.’ Open this book and see for yourself how ‘gratitude that one expends expands.’ This is real poetry, friends.”
— Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic
"Announcing what’s most at stake in its own title, Flourish is about the ardent encounters that irradiate a life into meaning. In poems about the textures of the world, the currents of thought and feeling within the self, and the intricate amplitude of language itself, Dora Malech is engaged in a project of enlargement steeped in granular attentiveness. As the title poem, with serious wit, proposes: “sweet alyssum, / sweet asylum.” Dazzled and mournful often at the same time, Malech’s poems keep asking, “you—will you attend?” And in their intensities—imaginative, emotional, ethical—these poems keep saying yes."
— Rick Barot, author of The Galleons
"In Dora Malech’s Flourish we encounter a speaker who brilliantly pinpoints the pulses and currents that undergird spaces, events, people, the political, the natural world, and the self. These poems believe deeply in the power of words as spells, prayers, songs, and talismans—and they interrogate the nature of language itself as the nexus of existence, torquing and bending signifiers and sounds until they radiate with insight. There is a danger, a fire, a smolder beneath these poems and their dazzling beauty and music—this is a book of awareness, of light and growth and small gestures—a book of resilience that lets us deep into the speaker’s internal life, her contemplative strength and optimism."
— Erika Meitner, author of Holy Moly Carry Me