Tony Di Nardo’s collection Alien, Correspondent is a book to savor. The book cover by Ann Nadin evokes the soul of its poetry: Beirut and other cities in the Levant, where many cultures are captured in all their contradictions – beauty and brashness, elegance and seediness, glory and decrepitude, tranquillity and violence, tradition and angst.
This collection of poems is reminiscent of the oriental rugs Di Nardo mentions in one of his poems. It is a mature and intricate book, a book that dotes indulgently on the foibles of ageless cultures and their descendants, but also reprimands their excesses uncompromisingly, capturing form and color but also chaos and darkness.
Throughout the book the poet also explores his identity, rooted as it is in his native Canada, but altered invariably by the experiences he undergoes in other countries, in other literatures and in time.
This is a wise book that not only explores, with clarity and perceptiveness, the minutiae of transitions and destinations, but also the sheer pleasure of writing about them.
Mishka Mourani is the author of Balconies: A Mediterranean Memoir. She is senior vice president of the International College in Beirut, Lebanon.