|Steady, My Gaze|
by Marie-Elizabeth Mali
(Tebot Bach, 2011)
BOOK RELEASE CELEBRATIONMarie-Elizabeth Mali is a poet of extraordinary sensitivity who picks up the signals of joy and suffering and puts that music out into the world. She takes delight in everything from the mist of a waterfall in Venezuela to her husband’s creative use of bananas. She confronts mortality in a moving elegy for her father, in the suicide of her husband’s first wife, and the haunted words of a firefighter who dug up a human foot from the rubble of the World Trade Center. She is a spiritual and a sensual poet both, utterly honest and unafraid, capable of wonder yet grounded in compassion, writing from a tactile awareness of the body in all its grace and vulnerability. This is a steady gaze indeed.—Martín Espada
Steady, My Gaze by Marie-Elizabeth Mali
With music and readings by Robby Baier, Elana Bell, Suzanne Gardinier, Tyehimba Jess, and Sarah Kay
louderARTS: the Reading Series
Monday, March 21, 7:30 pmBar 13
35 E 13th St at University Place, NYC
$6/$5 students, 2-for-1 drinks all night
Steady, My Gaze will be available at the event for 20% off ($12 total)
Marie-Elizabeth Mali is hardwired to notice and celebrate the world “where the kiss comes from a mouth that bites.” Having grown up between three cultures—American, Venezuelan, and Swedish—she translates the fluid sense of identity she experienced as a multi-cultural child and spiritual seeker into work that moves between a sense of unity and discord, exploring in poems that startle with their shine “this beautiful, terrible world where we are opened / and crushed."
Steady, My Gaze is a necessary book full of fire and desire, wings and water. It emerges out of the full consent of the self to the glorious and wounding matrix of experience. Marie Howe calls it “a metaphysical page-turner.” A spiritual and sensual poet both, Mali writes from the body toward that which lies beyond the body, whether in Venezuela or at a seven-day silent retreat, whether with her husband or an acupuncture client, whether observing hummingbirds or a one-legged child playing with her family on a beach during wartime.
As a co-curator for a popular poetry reading series in New York City-louderARTS: the Reading Series—Mali understands the importance of crafting poems that have an immediate visceral impact on a reader or listener. Her poems are grounded in the music of language, at home being heard out loud as much as being read on the page.
Mali draws from varied inspirations—from Jeffrey McDaniel to Frida Kahlo, from the Vedas to the circus, from sex to death—to make a distinctive sound in a world where it’s easy to get lost in the din. The poems in Steady, My Gaze neither preach nor explain but cast a clear eye on the ordinary and surprisingly divine, on that which might otherwise be easily overlooked.