Afterfeast by Lisa Hiton
“Here are lovers
ripening in the purple sky, the space where there is nothing
between. Face me. Leap into it. The lines blur
like watery lenses. We are not mythology. Neither are we
Lisa Hiton’s debut book of poems is a masterful collection. Each of Afterfeast’s six sections has its own setting and set of images, yet the book as a whole retains a coherent and enticing set of themes and concerns. The unifying element of the collection is Hiton’s meditations on love: love for family, love for places, love for history, love for culture, and, of course, love for a lover.From the get-go, Hiton’s take on the sapphic love poem has incredible depth and novelty, weaving in historical and mythological references while retaining some of the more expected elements of love poetry: descriptions of desire, allusions of the magnitude of love, and the romanticization of places and themes associated with the lover. But as the collection progresses, these allusions sharpen into the author’s relationship with Judaism and the Holocaust Holocaust, grounding the word “mythology” into Ancient Greek and Roman connotations of homoerotic love. The result is a series of poems that burst with significance, weaving a complex web of personal, political, historical, and mythological references already established earlier in the book. Poems like “Bakery” and “Historic Stair” are poetry at its finest, a novel’s worth of meaning compacted into a handful of pages.
The central beauty of the collection is that each poem and section builds on the last. While the first two sections may feel fragmented, with poems spanning a wide range of topics and geographies, Hiton makes those diversions worthwhile through the brilliant ordering of the poems within the book. A collection of poems that succeeds as both a collection and as a group of stand-alone poems, Afterfeast is a noteworthy release.
— Matt Mason