I-70 Review

Writing and Art from the Middle and Beyond

Hadara Bar-Nadav

Hadara Bar-Nadav's most recent book of poetry is The New Nudity (Saturnalia Books, 2017).  Her previous books include Lullaby (with Exit Sign) (Saturnalia Books, 2013), awarded the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize; The Frame Called Ruin (New Issues, 2012), Runner Up for the Green Rose Prize; and A Glass of Milk to Kiss Goodnight (Margie/Intuit House, 2007), awarded the Margie Book Prize.  She is also the author of two chapbooks, Fountain and Furnace (Tupelo Press, 2015), awarded the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize, and Show Me Yours (Laurel Review/Green Tower Press 2010), awarded the Midwest Poets Series Prize.  In addition, she is co-author with Michelle Boisseau of the best-selling textbook Writing Poems, 8th ed. (Pearson, 2011).  Her awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, the Lucille Medwick Award from the Poetry Society of America, and others.  Individual poems appear in the Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, American Poetry Review,·The Believer, The New Republic, Academy of American Poets, and elsewhere.··She is a Professor of English and teaches in the MFA program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Artist Statement     

     My artistic practice is fueled by a desire to explore the flexibility and interdisciplinary reach of lyric poetry.· I am the author of four books of poetry and two chapbooks.· Each of my books challenges me to innovate and experiment with subject matter, language, and form. ·As a writer, I am excited by the potential of poetry to bridge disciplines and discourses, including art, architecture, literature, history, and medicine.· My influences have included a variety of artists, among them Louise Nevelson, René·Magritte, Emily Dickinson, and Paul Celan.· Death has been a common theme in my poetry, which is directly linked to my being the child of Holocaust survivors.· Having read about the operas, plays, visual art, and writing produced by prisoners in Terezin—the concentration camp where much of my family was killed—I have come to believe that creativity is a necessary counterbalance to destruction.· Art is an unyielding and beautiful force in the world; it reaffirms that we are alive—breathing, wriggling, sentient.

Lullaby (with Exit Sign)

I slept with all four hooves  


           in the air or I slept like a snail

       in my broken shell.

The periphery of the world


           dissolved. A giant exit sign

         blinking above my head.

My family sings

            its death march.

         They are the size of the moon.

No, they are the size


           of thumbtacks punched

        through the sky's eyelid.

What beauty, what bruise.

           (What strange lullaby is this

         that sings from its wound?)

Here, my dead father knocks

           on a little paper door. Here

     my family knocks, waits.

Come through me, my darlings

           whatever you are: flame,


              lampshade, soap.

Leave your shattered shadows

           behind. I'll be the doorway

        that watches you go.


From Lullaby (with Exit Sign), 2013

(Saturnalia Books)

First published in Prairie Schooner.


Dirty, dirty boy,

what have you done?

Your bath splattered

with cigarette butts, leaves,


the droppings of doves.

No chlorine can clean

your iron-eating years.

Eyes peeled open,

genitals exposed.

A mounting rod lodged

in the base of your back.

Children poke you

and steal your pennies.

The loose change of your mind

emptied by the smallest hands.

Who isn't barbaric anymore?

The people no longer notice

you, bound in stone,  


as a taxidermied swan.

Splayed on the plaza square

in mid-spring,

you wait to be turned on.


From The New Nudity, 2017

(Saturnalia Books)

First published in AGNI.

Dust Is the Only Secret

Tender father. Feather your face. Fingers laced with June. This waiting room white as always. July.

You were patient. August. Body of wilted springs. Part tissue. Part decay. Paralysis. September, and

the months drip. Patience. Pain. Infinite contain. Patient between 3 AM and Tuesday. Between sponge

bath and morphine. Between warfarin and vomiting. Current, rubber, hiccup, vex. The body lit up,

needled, electric. You dream, half-life, half-lit. Machines chirp metallic lullabies. A neon line blinks

across a black screen. Pulse like a promise green and green until the heart stops, sleeps.


From Lullaby (with Exit Sign), 2013 (Saturnalia Books)   First Published in POOL.

I Would Have Starved a Gnat

This lean of bone and tilt. All odd angles to the sun. Flut. Flet. Flatten me with your mad flit. Your fast tying hands. All odd angles and eminent collapse. Now on our knees. Now bowing. Please, kiss my littlest one. A video found in a bunker underground. I once was a night. Once nightly news. See the vultures and gnats flock to our shivering. Food's necessity on me—like a Claw—. A gathering of wingly things so all you see is weather. Turning iridescent. Turning black. The kingdom of the body blown to ash. Buttons of us left in the sun. The crown and the teeth. The aftermath. No moist benevolent thing between us. Take me. Take half.  


From Lullaby (with Exit Sign), 2013 (Saturnalia Books)   First Published in Crazyhorse.


Hung by two pins and swelling,

lacquered and puckering.

Effaced by thumbprints

sealed with grease and ink.

Your quick hands cancel

my gunmetal locks.      


No one notices my head, no one soothes

my forehead with a cool cloth.

You handle me, he handles me.

My gold protuberance

available by turns.

I am legless and cannot move.

I am tongueless, mute

to your touch.

I unleash my deranged triangle

of shadows when pushed.

If you look under my skirt you'll see

the darkness of another world.

________________________________________                                                                                    From    From The New Nudity, 2017 (Saturnalia Books)

    First published in American Letters & Commentary.


A zombie is a head

with a hole in it.

Layers of plastic,

putty, and crust.

The mindless

must be sated.

Mottled men who will

always return

          mouthing wet               


You rise already

harmed and follow

          my sad circle

as if dancing

on shattered legs.

Shoeless, toeless,

such tender absences.

You come to me


          in linens and reds,

eternal, autumnal

with rust and wonder.

My servant, sublimate

and I am yours

(the hot death

we would give each other).

My dark ardor,

my dark augur.

Love to the very open-

mouthed end.

We are made of

so much hunger.  


From The New Nudity, 2017 (Saturnalia Books).