Read review of Towline at Washington Independent Review of Books.
Holly Karapetova’s Towline is adept in many languages, moving at will between crisp evocations of daily life and the suggestive landscape of dreams. But it is in the intersection between these worlds, the thin veil hinging commonly accepted reality with that of the half-remembered, fairytale past of the old country, that Karapetova’s poetry finds its deepest power. Building a compelling female slant onto the tradition of deep image poetics, Karapetova gives voice to the pulse and tug of the archetypal European past in such memorable poems as “How the King’s Daughter Gave Way,” “Two Conversations,” and “Song of the Three Swallows.”
A towline is tied to both shore and sea—finding purpose in tension between the two—and TOWLINE ably navigates the tide between life and death. “Do you love the world?” asks “Persephone Was an Immigrant.” “Yes, / but which one?” Throughout her second collection, Holly Karapetkova interrogates how we form traditions of myth, riddle, and family rumor. “My grandmother was a bird / in Thessaloniki,” declares one poem, before going on to describe how “the man / clipped her wings / tied her talon to the saddle.” These vistas are stark, the pulse often elegiac, yet humor glimmers in a series of prose poems: “When the shooting stopped we laughed about the bullet holes in his jacket, and I bought him a gelato to thank him for his excellent viscosity.” This is stunning, accomplished work by a poet unafraid of naming strange truths.
~Sandra Beasley, author of COUNT THE WAVES and I WAS THE JUKEBOX
The poems of Holly Karapetkova’s new collection are expansive, ranging in structure from the freest verse to the elegantly formal, in theme from the broadly universal to the most intensely personal, and in style from classic tragedy to a Daliesque surreal to tragicomedy in the tradition of Beckett. They all return, though, to that same inexorable human conundrum: how to carry grief, to carry on. They give no easy answer, but they help the traveler along the way.
~Dan Albergotti, author of Millennial Teeth