From Publishers Weekly
Sharma's third collection places its author in the bewildering atmosphere of unfamiliar customs and ambiguous relationships, often expressed as a clash between Eastern and Western culture, but in a broader context. In these poems, Sharma craves simplicity and honesty in a world that seems increasingly corrupt. Off-Year: Several Hopes & Health Games examines the power dynamic in relationships between women and men: You are not really a master! she says, I just invented this to control my own longings. Sharma also asks serious questions, but gives in to passion, too, though not without complications. Convictions and morals fight with a desire for absolute abandon; this conflict is figured as a charming innocence, corruptible but ultimately prevailing: Her wooden nickels paid for wilderness. Lyrically motivated and contemplative, Sharma (The Opening Question
) may be more concerned with language than with the images it can conjure, but finds meaning by observation and definition, attaining her own peculiar logic and phrasing. (Dec.)
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"The beautifully constructed poems in Infamous Landscapes demonstrate a dazzling, challenging, and subversive proficiency with language that eludes conventions of meaning with a Zen-like resistance to traditional forms of interpretation. Sharma's exploration of poetry as an exercise in hermeneutics employs unexpected recontextualizations of unpredictable imagery and unconventional juxtapositions of nouns and adjectives, verbs and adverbs. These lyrical and layered poems are intelligently emotional, playful, and witty. They reflect a finely tuned ear and include delightful and liberal use of wordplay. Written primarily as first-person narratives, contemplations and philosophical musings--internal dialogues on how to be in the external world--the poems are both whimsical and profound, and they comprise a seemingly ambivalent, wistful, and vigorous response to Wordsworth's romanticism in their evocations of American landscapes that are both interior and exterior, urban and suburban, and steeped in infamy. Including references to Baruch/Benedictus Spinoza and John Calvin, the poems imply a kind of dialectical and decidedly secular flirtation with existentialism, cynicism, and humanism, as well as critiques of materialism, Marxism, liberalism, capitalism, and religion, in their search for artistic and poetic perspectives. The works explore, in a self-conscious but charming kind of way, the fate of romanticism in this post-modern era."--Lori Tsang, www.mcreview.com