Halebsky Review by Paco Márquez

Space/Gap/Interval/Distance by Judy Halebsky (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2011): Judy Halebsky’s first chapbook comes after her book-length collection Sky = Empty, a winner of the New Issues Poetry prize and finalist for the California Book Award. In Space/Gap/Interval/Distance I found freshness and frugality of words mixed in with a minimalist clearness of thoughts. Not at every turn of the page, paragrpah, or stanza do we find the unexpected but at every line: “I have breathed into a thousand ballons/ put my fingers in so many cakes/ had my body scanned with fingerprints/ wrote out my dreams in lines of the night” (p.11). Stark, matter of fact details are often juxtapositioned with ethereal ponderings: “water does not travel sideways/ the biggest risk is what we lose to the atmosphere” (p. 20). Halebsky’s work highlights a wonderful unit of poetry: the thought—not thinking as an intellectual position to argue for/against, but plops of ponder and reflection: “the birch tree/ slightly wounded/ is growing toward the sun”. Finally, a student herself of Japanese and butho dance in Japan for many years, Halebsky’s influence is distilled and mixed with her work. As a note on my notebook reads from her March 22 lecture (Japanese Tradition in West Coast Poetics) at the Sacramento Poetry Center: “we become what we cultivate: embody the thing, then poet it”.

Paco Márquez

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