Heather Derr-Smith’s second collection journeys to the rough core of desire, creating and destroying binaries along the way. Familiar artifacts of domesticity become as volatile as land mines, and the streets of Damascus, Calcutta, and other faraway locales obliterate the American landscape. Yet Derr-Smith’s poetry transcends time and place, illuminating the ties that bind man to woman, mother to child. The Bride Minaret is a relentless chronicle of experience, where the sacred and profane become interchangeable, where “Every tent has a name, and every name is the breath of you.”
The Bride Minaret is a book of emotional, literary, and cultural substance. As Mandelson wrote of Auden: the poems bear witness to the close connection between intelligence and love. The same can be said for Derr-Smith, whose work is global, with settings in Iraq, British Columbia, Algiers, Paris, Sarajevo, Bosnia, Cairo, the West Bank, and various U.S. locations. Her poems are intercultural, expansive while still grounded in the evocative complexities of motherhood, childhood, and faith. The Bride Minaret is a wonderfully intense collection.
—Denise Duhamel, author of Two and Two and Mille et un sentiments
In The Bride Minaret, Heather Derr-Smith explores the complex and difficult realities of our global world more comprehensively and comprehendingly than most American poets consider even attempting. Often paying close attention to those displaced and/or disconnected from the society around them—Arabs in Europe, Americans in the Middle East, Mennonites in Iowa, Balkan refugees, Roma orphans, Palestinians, and, at the heart of the book, a mother now separated from her former, childless self—these poems ultimately argue that dislocation is itself a kind of location, just as living forever in one place can end up dislocating oneself from the realities of our time.
—Wayne Miller, author of Only the Senses Sleep and The Book of Props