Summer 2005


Summer 2005

THE VANISHING POINT, by Carol Hamilton

Recently I saw a film in which a girl leads a blind man down a street in France. During the brief walk, the girl described for the man everything she saw, in overflowing glorious detail and pulsing with life. That’s how I feel when I read The Vanishing Point by Carol Hamilton; that I am being taken by the arm in the presence of beauty. The poems, crafted carefully and tenderly by Hamilton, lead me down a hallway in a great heavenly museum, where the walls are plastered with vibrant, living art, and the creators of the works slip attractively by like ghosts.

Throughout the 40-page journey of The Vanishing Point, I am not only given 40/40 vision of paintings through Carol Hamilton’s poet eyes, but glimpses into intimate and revealing biographical details of artists whose works we know but whose souls are often mysteries. In “Candles in His Hat” I am delighted to learn of the candles Goya placed in his hat so he could work at night. In “From Gaudi’s Bedroom in Park Guell, Barcelona” I am taken on a furtive tour through the monk-minimalist room where Gaudi lived “amid the extravagance of his dreams.”

Though the subject matter of the book deals with paintings and those who have devoted their lives to art, it is not without the emotional landscapes of Hamilton herself. Hauntingly effected by the art she contemplates, Hamilton includes her own personal reflections in the poems. “Then I knew I drew all space / through the needle of my eye,” she writes in “Selections,” inspired by an O’Keeffe print of two crows in the sky.

Though I was unfamiliar with some of the art that so intrigues the author, I was pulled into a newfound appreciation for it through Hamilton’s words. I found myself strongly moved by the poem “Miro’s Mercury Fountain,” which is rife with lush language about mercury moving slower than water.

My favorite poems are the kind that help me grab onto concrete images as strongly as possible, and my least favorite are those which leave me searching for any information at all. Hamilton’s poems are of the former variety, and I don’t think it’s only because they’re about art - I think it’s because Hamilton does her job as a poet. Hamilton paints with words like an impressionist, lines like “Today with icy drizzle whispering / behind my still-dark window glass” display the author’s aptitude for setting sensory moods. Her verse consistently loads my head with color, texture, shades, contrast…and is as pleasing to the senses as a carefully tended garden.

When I asked Carol Hamilton her thoughts on how art can inspire art, she mentioned that she loves “finding in a poem that moment when something stabbed the poet to attention.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself - the feeling I get when reading The Vanishing Point. The author is constantly “stabbed to attention,” whether she’s musing about Gauguin or fixated on a man in a Hopper painting. I can testify that with this book, the reader remains as engaged as the author.


A debut book of poems by Amy Ouzoonian, "Your Pill," appeared this winter, with book parties from the Bowery Poetry Club to the Huntington Poets Cafe in the New York Region. An auspicious first book by a young author of considerable promise, Your Pill has been called a book that "reaches far and out bringing back a logic and a clarity that turns all we know surreal and all we believe absurd," according to Bret Axel.

Amy Ouzoonian recently received her BA in writing for the theater and journalism from SUNY New Paltz University. She has edited an anthology of poetry, Skyscrapers, Taxis and Tampons and has been a fixture at Tribes Gallery in the lower East Side of Manhattan, where she has been instrumental as the editor of A Gathering of the Tribes Magazine. Editor of a far-reaching Tsunami relief anthology this year, she has been active in the Hudson Valley, as host of a poetry venue in New Paltz, as a board member of Arts for Peace and as the performance director of the Space: a cultural co-op art organization and a member of the activist group Synthesis.

The book is a uniquely designed and quite attractive 88 page hand-sewn paperback published by FootHills Publishing.

Titled from a well-known Richard Brautigan passage that referred to birth control pills and the corridors of human loss, Ouzoonian moves tangentially from this theme while retaining the emotional point. Your Pill reflects the American "need for medicine or a tool kit to help repair or heal them from the chaos of war within this country and outside its borders," and speaks to the loss of persona which occurs through the medicating of those with emotional trauma.

She calls the slim chapbook part of a healing process that she underwent while caring for individuals with disabilities and while experiencing certain life events. "I learned to express these experiences through my art and writing."

These sentiments are in evidence throughout the book, as in the poem 'The Way How:"

"This is the way he made me want to live (again),
This is how I pass for female,
This is the way how three thousand stitches are made (invisible).

Or this passage, in "Similes Like Love"

...brushing one bare cheek
Against browning grass
After a drizzle

A hand wiped it away
When he said
"...I feel like your brother."

Your Pill also includes a moving elegy for Pedro Pietri, the seminal 'street poet' of New York, whose influence on the downtown scene, not to mention the Puerto Rican community of the metropolis, was profound and enduring beyond his death in 2004.

While its politics are decidedly youthful, with all that is unflinching and direct in that assessment, there is an underlying tone of mature reflection and human compassion that bodes well for future offerings by Ouzoonian.


Donald Lev has been writing and publishing poetry since 1958. His thirteenth collection, YESTERDAY'S NEWS (Outloudbooks, 2002) is obliquely about the WTC tragedy. He publishes/edits the literary tabloid HOME PLANET NEWS, which he and his late wife Enid Dame founded in 1979.


Poetrybay seeks fine poetry, reviews, commentary and essays without restriction in form or content, and reserves first electronic copyright to all work published. All rights to published work revert to the author following publication. All Email submissions should be in body of email text.

To submit poems write to:

PO Box 114 
Northport NY 11768
or email us at

send comments to

first electronic copyright 2004 poetrybay. 
all rights revert to authors

website comments to