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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Life in Suspension: La Vie Suspendue (English and French Edition) is a collection of poetry written by Helene Cardona. The poet is also a translator, editor of an anthology of Poetry and Aesthetics, and an essayist. The poetry in this collection was originally written in English and then translated by the poet into French. Her collection is separated thematically into four sections which seem to bear a correlation with life cycles. Each section is prefaced with quotes that act as guideposts for the reader as he/she travels therein. Many of Cardona's works revolve around her family, most particularly her mother whose essence seems omnipresent for her daughter as expressed in her opening poem, To Kitty, Who Loved the Sea and Somerset Maugham: “Whose laughter burns snow/Whose warm breath I breathed/This morning as I woke/The scent of gardenias whispering/I never left you.” There are also memories shared of a Greek grandfather whose glib pronouncement "...a boy at last, I'm not impressed with girls" seems embedded in her consciousness. But in that family is also the world embraced in miniature: the streets of Paris, ballet classes as a child in Geneva, a grandmother in Tarragona who teaches her Spanish, horse-back riding in Wales.
Helene Cardona's bilingual collection of poetry, Life in Suspension: La Vie Suspendue, reels with energy and images that pour out into the reader's consciousness. Cardona gleefully plays with words and makes them do her bidding, joyfully violating their essence and somehow making the violation a thing of nature and beauty. I was intrigued by the bilingual nature of this work and enjoyed reading both the French and English versions, sounding out the words as I read and savoring the way the sounds and meanings meshed and played. Life in Suspension is a frank and fearless work that reveals, at times, so much of the author's essence that I felt a need to step back and allow her space, a bit of privacy. But then her next few lines would seem to acknowledge the closeness and defy any traditional need for space. This is a collection of poetry to be savored slowly and enjoyed again and again. Life in Suspension is most highly recommended.