Great Guns by Farnoosh Fathi
Canarium Books, 2013; 73 pp
Reviewed by Sebastian H. Paramo


In Farnoosh Fathi's debut collection Great Guns leads us on a trek through nature and philosophy. She begins with the lyrics of Jimmy Crack Corn, offering her own take, letting her words hint toward a larger theme in the book: rejoice and mystery of the world. Echoes of Dickinson come through in her style and subject matter. She plays on form and brings us into the world by way images of earthly creatures.

In poems like “Sparrow” one cannot help feeling familiar with the worlds drawn from the tangibles she presents. In this particular poem she plays with music and repetition in way that reveals a different battle between the earth and air, a thing that feels present throughout.

This was more like the atmosphere
had been pinched, whose chirp was an unexpected gust
in a harmonium enough
to break all that high horse talk
that curdles the atmosphere. While centaurs

ate grass and hurdled epitaphs, that chirp
in the midst did change one of us.

In the same way Dickinson seem fascinated with nature and giving it roles, characters, and destinies to play with, Fathi offers us the same. Fathi builds these worlds from the ground up like this from “Sonnet”:

Worms you know
my history of loose beginnings,
for sadness, since flowers focused us

One is pushing long honed claws of pineapples
to come out through shoulder-tops, hills and sea-breast
swells: this one smells of mermaid hair,
fair warning

We can't help feeling seduced into the world of this poet when she gives us gems like this: “One must lie down. Grand debt of the observer!” in the title poem. Her poetry turns light of the dark because it dwells so deeply in going beyond feeling because it embraces it as part of not only human nature, but the surrounding world and it's creatures.

This unremarkable suffering and these annotations on the lily.
Yet even the water here grows, spoken of, so highly, so likely.

Ultimately, in Fathi's poetry, we are guided by her to find delight in worms, snails, and the like to turn the ordinary into “Great Guns.”