Stacey Balkun, Festival Assistant
Hadara Bar-Nadav is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, where she currently lives with her husband. Her first collection of poems, A Glass of Milk to Kiss Goodnight, won the Margie Book Prize. Bar-Nadav’s poetry pulls an audience in through familiar sounds and images, but holds their attention by subtly confounding expectations and offering new insights through inventive connections.
In an interview with Serena Agusto-Cox of 32 Poems, Bar-Nadav cites jazz music as her first teacher. She approached the study of the shape of language through the rhythms and sounds of jazz, and the composition of her poetry reflects this influence. Bar-Nadav’s poetry reverberates with music; her images are often linked through sound. However, to Bar-Nadav, poetry must extend beyond the musical sphere. She entrusts poetry as a place “where the senses sing, cry, and take shape through language” (from Beloit Poetry Review). Bar-Nadav invites the audience to enter into her poems, to experience her sense perceptions; her dreams and impulses, which move with a current as improvisational as jazz.
Each poem in A Glass of Milk to Kiss Goodnight is carefully calculated in both language and form. Bar-Nadav is exacting even in her use of line breaks and white space. Certain poems in the collection use numbers and calculations as a central metaphor. “A Number of Things” and “Breaking the Equation” are only two examples. Yet, there is nothing cold in the precision of Bar-Nadav’s poetry. Instead, like both music and mathematics, her poetry carefully walks the line between precision and improvisation. In an interview with Simone Muench of Sharkforum, Bar-Nadav reveals her belief in a correlation between poetry and arithmetic: “the rhythms and stresses and sounds—the desire for language to equal an idea.”
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