Antiquity, Michael Homolka
The poems in Antiquity stage meeting grounds for the irreconcilable, as Homolka gives us the present infused with the past. Heroes of ancient Greece and Rome puzzle over contemporary war atrocities. A warning cry from the Holocaust gains renewed, eerie immediacy. The Black Death reprises itself to victims already aware of its consequences. A haunting, richly textured debut.
Michael Homolka's poems have appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Antioch Review, Boulevard, Parnassus, and The Threepenny Review. A graduate of Bennington College’s MFA program, he lives in New York City and currently teaches high school English to low-income students.
PRAISE FOR ANTIQUITY:
"[I]t’s a quick spin through Homolka’s spare, sculpted lines from the collection of Jews’ permits to the six-day war to “emaciated lovers” receiving stars from the backs of chariots. Clearly, history, and particularly Jewish history, will be the topic of this Kathryn A. Morton Prize winner, and clearly the language will be punchy and irreverent…. VERDICT: Refreshing, energetic work; many readers will enjoy."
"Homolka’s alluring debut seamlessly tiles scenes of past and present to create a mosaic that is constantly conscious of the inescapability of time…. Aware that he is presenting perennial human questions in new imagery, Homolka lets his metaphors do the work so that the craft, not cleverness, shines through."
“Though timeless in its associations...this is a collection infused with the cyclical nature, and often unbearable passage, of time and an unflinching awareness of the horrors human beings can visit upon each other.... Thoughtful, piercing, and sometimes startling in its darker moments, this collection echoes long.”
“Homolka’s wry intelligence and off-kilter wit permeate these poems.”
“Antiquity unveils a rarefied realm where ancient and postmodern are lived simultaneously. Kaleidoscopic, lyrical, bold, meticulous and sensual, the poems are "flexible in (their) adherence/to a particular time period." Each poem is a dark aria from the opera of history. Sexual/political energy, rapt stanzas, the choreography of disaster, fatalism, persecution, seduction, and much more are contemplated by eternity's light. Each poem is a heady, mysterious, evocative cocktail of zeitgeists.”
“Steeped in the archetypal and the historical, this book straddles life’s rapacious uncertainties with a healthy dose of ambivalence towards patriarchal legacies, surviving on rations of wry wit (running the gamut from jovial to martial) as well as meticulous attentions/devotions to form. Homolka has thrown down his gauntlet, and this formidable debut, by hook and by crook, manages to transubstantiate the half-empty chalice into the half-full.”
“The poems in Antiquity very much abandon themselves to language, to the collective poetic endeavor, and they do so in a rich, textured, and sustained voice, though out of a self that is “flexible in its adherence/ to a particular time period.” What’s antiquity anyway, but a thing that is always lurking beneath the surface, not only in the sense of its influence—then shaping now—but in the sense our now will so soon be a then. And what if this book, by virtue of its intelligence and in spite of its exhilaration, leaves us with a sense of spiritual weariness . . . wanting to be gladder and more puffed up? Consider most of all that if such wishes were granted, we wouldn’t have these marvelous poems, poems that remind us of how easy it is, really, to talk to Horace.”
—Mary Ruefle, from the Introduction