Sonnets on a Night Without Love
Chapbook, Yusuf Saadi, 24 pgs, Vallum Society for Arts & Letters Education, vallummag.com, $10
For a collection that professes to be about a night without love, the word “love” and its machinations sure make a lot of appearances. Perhaps the title is more suggestive of an effort to fill a void, rather than an attempt to evade a feeling.
These poems predominantly see Yusuf Saadi directly addressing a lover (aside from the clever “Sonnet by a Forgotten Twix Wrapper”). The intimate mood that results demands a hushed and reverent reading — like the text is being whispered in confidence. A number of literal references to quiet and rest further enforce that direction: “Silence shawls the temporal;” “Conjoined sleepers shrouded in the TV’s halo.”
Saadi’s verse veers into mushy territory on occasion — “I glimpse your heart which nearly blinds me” — but melodrama is par for the course when you’re wading into this subject matter. To his credit, he consistently transcends the schmaltz by dabbling in out-of-this-world imagery: “I know a star in Andromeda broke / every colour in your heart.” The prevalence of lines referencing stars, planets and particles makes this sound like a love letter from an astrophysicist. (Scott Bryson)