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Topic: Sandra Kasturi

John Barton on Sandra Kasturi's "Old Men, Smoking"

(How Poems Work, December 2005)
Like the title of a realist painting–say a work by Edward Hopper, who gave apt shorthand titles to his canvases (“Drug Store,” for example, or “A Woman in the Sun”) that summarized the landscapes or cityscapes, people, or moments he wished to frame–the throwaway evocative power of Sandra Kasturi’s title anchors her poem. Its power is reechoed throughout in phrases like “these old men who smoke” and “these men,” even in “they”–smaller and smaller skipping stones from which meaning devolves. And yet, like the old men she describes, Kasturi’s title is reticent. It betrays little or nothing of her themes….