This review was written for and first published by Bookmunch.
“we’re this, we are a moment”
The Silent Letter is a collection of poems written as the author, Jaume Subirana, is reaching his sixties. They harbour an appreciation of the now – of everyday life’s vistas and minutiae. The language used is measured yet piercing, avoiding the guttural and the crude in favour of more gentle observations. This does not remove vivid emotion but rather exudes a personal, internal understanding of wonders to be found in any time or place.
The poems bring to life the beauty of nature and its ability to calm inner turbulence. Time is given over to watching raindrops catching light on a windowpane. Snow blankets the ground, bringing with it a feeling of peace.
“A silent pause next. Winter’s silent letter.”
Such visual pleasures are presented succinctly, avoiding the garish, leaving a contrail of enchantment in what many will fail to notice as they chatter and look forward to their next experience. The poems offer a cessation in the rush and noise – the fear of missing some opportunity that blinds to what is here already.
The words conjure an intimacy – gentle beauty. The images evoked are discrete while still touching the senses.
Settings are various, each valued for aspects that all could enjoy if they took the time to observe and absorb ambience alongside fixtures. Art is stepped into. Empty space offers relief between the impressive scenes depicted on the walls of a castle-cathedral.
The poems are presented in the original Catalan and then the English translation. Even those that cover only a few lines are given a full page. This spacing encourages the reader to pause and absorb each choice of word and stanza fully.
The collection is followed by a Vita Nova by Jordi Galves in which he describes Subrirana’s work, ‘as disconnected as possible from the blind gregariousness of mere sheep.’
It is a refreshing pleasure to read such carefully constructed and moving poems that remain accessible while avoiding both bland and fruitied phrasing.
“We sip a sacrament
of light and silence”
Any Cop?: In achieving balance and perspective – cultural resonance drawn from life, nature and simple observation – the author provides inspiration to pay quiet attention and live well.