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The Poems of Walta Borawski (Review)

Note - a slightly altered version of this appeared previously in the Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide

Invisible History: The Collected Poems of Walta Borawski. Library of Homosexual Congress, 280 pages. $34.95

Review by Dale Boyer

The collections of poets lost to AIDS often read like the anthologies of World War I Poets: so many wonderful, talented voices cut down tragically before their prime. What might they have done if they had lived longer? Walta Borawski is a name I was not at all familiar with, but after reading this poignant collection, it is a name I will not forget. Indeed, reading the entire output of someone who died so young is like making and then losing a friend in one sitting. Borawski (the poet shortened his first name from Walter as a tribute to Barbara Streisand, which gives you some idea of the cheeky flavor of his work) is particularly adept at the realities of living and dealing with the virus. He can also be funny and heartbreaking -- sometimes both at once -- particularly when it comes to poems of unrequited love. And, while the introduction claims that the poems require reading aloud, their wit and pain come through remarkably well on the page. This collection should go a long way toward making Borawski’s wonderfully vivid and affecting work much better known.

Dale Boyer’s latest collection is Columbus in the New World: Selected Poems.


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