Squander occupies a place where “the mind’s upstairs windows [are] blown out”: a place of juxtapositional delight through sensory and conceptual dislocation. Its centripetal force arises from the risk of language and from a persuasion of alarming imagery. Poems based in word origins work as fables and poems based in dialogue work within a select concordance from authors and artists. The consequent subject’s meaning is diverted and new vantage points are created. Squander’s energized music, its alliance with feeling’s final rhythm “makes us complicit” in the re-awaking of language.
In verse simmering with sensuality, Elena Byrne eloquently reveals, then carefully slices away, layer after layer of the masks we wear until our most secret selves are exposed. Pretense is overthrown in her exotic and electric imagery, irresistibly drawing the reader into an unabashedly intimate internal dialogue.
The Flammable Bird
“Like Hopkins’s kingfisher, Elena Karina Byrne’s flammable bird takes off from the branch of human passion, though the heaven she is dwarn to is desire itself, ‘the sanctuary of hunger’, the appetite that will not be fed. Enfleshed, inflamed, insatiable, these form her holy trinity, and the heady, headlong language of her poems has honored them with an artful liturgy of devotional wonders.”
— Sherod Santos