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This review is taken from PN Review 240, Volume 44 Number 4, March - April 2018.

Cover of Nothing is Lost: Selected Poems</i>, trans. Lawrence Schimel
Ian SeedBelieving in the invisible

Jordi Doce, Nothing is Lost: Selected Poems, trans. Lawrence Schimel (Shearsman);
Ron Winkler, Fragmented Waters, trans. Jake Schneider (Shearsman)
Jordi Doce’s Nothing is Lost brings together poems selected from six collections published in Spanish between 1990 and 2011. This is the first translation in book form of Doce’s work into English, and Lawrence Schimel has done such a good job that for the most part readers will forget they are reading poems that were written in another language. It should also be pointed out that the spirit of Doce’s poems is perhaps as much English as anything else. In his ‘Author’s Note’, Jordi states that many of these poems were written during his stay in England from 1991 to 2000, and acknowledges a debt to English poetry, which he has studied and translated. Although they are ‘determinedly rooted in the Spanish literary tradition’, he goes onto say that ‘poetry is born in part out of a contrary dialogue with one’s own heritage, and English literature has given me a much-needed vantage point from which to examine and re-evaluate my own Spanish tradition’ (p. 115).

Doce’s work is threaded through with the kind of agnostic faith that the theologian Paul Tillich described as ‘ultimate concern’. In a manner reminiscent of different figures such as Blake, Rilke and Eliot, Doce seeks to penetrate to the heart of the meaning of our existence. Ever present is a sense of astonishment, as, for example, in ‘Succession’ (p. 45), a prose poem dedicated to his daughter, Paula:

Is birth the victory? Victory over what? From the faithful certainty of your body, my question watches you questioning me. ...

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