Out of our endgame of giddy chaos, Black Leaf sustains and deepens the themes and images first confronted in Seiler’s 1994 book, The Waters of Forgetting. Whether attentive to the poet in Paris, or to Isaac Bashevis Singer in Hoboken, or to Sam Cooke on the radio, these poems carry the reader through the postwar premillenial world, sifting through layers of history, popular culture, literature, and personal mythology to discover the fragments out of which a self can be shaped. In lines of wry humor and regret, of tension and the longing for release, the figure of the black leaf drifts from the first poem to the final sequence, suggestive of that moment before creation, before the pages turn white with possibility, or that thin screen upon which the imagination projects its stories to counter the stories told by time.
From the genuine horror of Sam Peckinpah to the tragic lyricism of Sam Cooke, Barry Seiler’s Black Leaf explores Americana with a poetic that announces to the reader that the mantra of what we know ourselves to be is all there is. Seiler takes Auden’s origin of poetry in language and makes the subject happen. Black Leaf is exquisite poetry of subtle and ironic commitment, steeped in a love and respect for language.
—Afaa M. Weaver