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Book Talk: Haendel Schwartz and “A Palette of Leaves”

A Palette of Leaves: Poems by Edythe Haendel Schwartz

A Palette of Leaves by Edythe Haendel Schwartz
Mayapple Press
ISBN 978-1-936419-14-2
2012, 70 pp., $14.95
Poetry – Local Author

This latest book by Davis poet Edythe Haendel Schwartz is a must for artists and poets alike, and is one of the best poetry collections I read in 2012. Beginning with the cover featuring the poet’s art, "A Palette of Leaves" surprised and delighted me. Several ekphrastic poems, beginning and ending the collection with Alice Neel, are spread throughout the three sections. Haendel Schwartz examines subjects like aging, stroke, biopsy and familial relationships, without sentimentality. Don’t confuse sentiment with emotion, and expect these poems to evoke a range of emotions. And, expect to think about each poem. Although the topics may be difficult and sometimes dark, there is always hope. You might, as I did, laugh just a bit at “Help Wanted: Bra Fitter,” but you’ll also recognize its ties to the current economic situation. Haendel Schwartz’s poems are accessible and intelligent, and they never remain in the private realm. These are personal poems, told by many characters, which speak to me as Neel does in “Alice Neel Speaks.” One of my favorite poems, although I’ll admit that it’s difficult to choose only one favorite, is “Suspension,” a poem that addresses how little we know about our parents. Haendel Schwartz’s words here, as in each poem, are carefully chosen and carefully placed, as are her brushstrokes on the other canvas she paints.

Edythe Haendel Schwartz will read from this new collection at the Sacramento Poetry Center at 1719 25th St., on Monday, Jan. 7, at 7:30 p.m.

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Other recent books by local poets include “Three Weeks Before Summer,” by Alexa Mergen and “Window: Selected Poetry,” by James M. Moose.

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