“No one—and I mean no one—writes poems as chock full of such nuanced feeling as Gail Mazur. She is as good as it gets. Has the elegiac ever seemed so vibrant and full of breathing space as it does here? The poems in Forbidden Cityrun light and true under hard losses. They are heroic in the best possible way, fully open to sorrow and fear but keeping their wits about them at all times. I love them, and envy their generous powers.”—David Rivard
Gail Mazur’s poems in Forbidden City build an engaging meditative structure upon the elements of mortality and art, eloquently contemplating the relationship of art and life—and the dynamic possibilities of each in combination. At the collection’s heart is the poet’s long marriage to the artist Michael Mazur (1935–2009). A fascinating range of tone infuses the book—grieving, but clear-eyed rather than lugubrious, sometimes whimsical, even comical, and often exuberant. The note of pleasure, as in an old tradition enriched by transience, runs through the work, even in the final poem, “Grief,” where “our ravenous hold on the world” is a powerful central element.