Why did I enjoy this book so much? It must be its utter sincerity. Morling's dreamy amazement at the world's weird plenty never feels affected or calculated. . . . It's a rare and refreshing delight to encounter such lovely ingenuousness.
Astoria examines the transitory physical world of the body and reflects on the seamless quality of the present moment. Surrounded by the rush and noise of trains, highways, and grocery store checkout lines, the narrator of these poems creates an intimate space in which to ponder the ephemeral nature of everyday things and the deeper meanings that might underlie them all. “It is amazing / we're not more amazed,” one poem muses, “The world / is here / and then it is gone.” The poems in Astoria unravel the hidden within the obvious, and speak to our innate questions of longing, purpose, and existence.
Outstanding compilation of engaging and lyrical poetic rhetoric . . . With a lyrically enraptured worksmithing, Morling presents her most insightful, artistic, and sensuously flowing poetry yet.
Trains . . . and big cities . . . the solitariness of individual consciousness, and time speeding up or collapsing, and the mystery of other people with other lives, as if it were a sort of Buddhist allegory of the transcience of things and the wonder of ourselves, our single, instantaneous awareness. I thought of this reading Ocean Avenue, by Malena Morling, which captures these feelings in a very pure way.
Malena Morling's Astoria is truly a wondrous book. Her poems possess a concreteness and images that become a vivid transparency. The poems are meditations that belong to the real world without leaving it. People and places make bridges to each other. The reader is turned to him-or-her-self. Every time I have reread Astoria, I feel I am experiencing the poems for almost the first time. The poems are constant enthusiasms, at work with intuitions from the heart and the mind and the world.
Malena Morling is a writer who is not afraid to feel or imagine and who has the exceptional talent required to make an original voice.
There is something exquisite in Morling's genuine pondering. In 'Astoria,' she moves through the city and the imagination with great speed and yet a cautious and watchful eye. Her keen observations make her work fresh and striking.
Malena Morling, assistant professor of creative writing at the University of North Carolina,Wilmington, is the author of Ocean Avenue, selected by Philip Levine for the New Issues Poetry Prize. She has translated works by the Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer, a selection of which appears in the collection, For the Living and the Dead. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times Book Review, New Republic, Washington Post Book World, Ploughshares, New England Review, and Five Points.