Artist: Solmaz Sharif

Courtesy of Graywolf Press
Courtesy of Graywolf Press

Iranian-American poet Solmaz Sharif’s debut volume of poems, “LOOK” is among the prestigious finalists for the American Book Award. These poems are moving forays into the nature of words, war and the human element caught in between. Sharif explores how words shape how war buries guilt through language, and codes atrocities through layers of jargon and terms. Sharif takes words from the “Depart of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms,” creating double entendres on terms which have separate military meanings. For example, the title “LOOK” is a term in mine warfare, “during which a mine circuit is receptive of an influence.”

While much contemporary poetry can seem inaccessible to newcomers, Sharif’s debut is not particularly difficult to read. The language is not particularly difficult or ornate, and the main idiom is everyday common speech. The power comes from the humanely devastating portraits of human lives amongst war, often buried under layers of political narratives.

For those looking for an insightful read, or are curious about contemporary poetry, “LOOK” is an absolutely great choice. Given the proximity of the coming election, and the ugly political rhetoric all over, Sharif’s debut is incredibly timely.

Faraz Rizvi, Arts & Entertainment Editor


Artist: Desire

Courtest of Italians Do It Better
Courtest of Italians Do It Better

The female-fronted retrowave group Desire fuses synth sounds from the ‘80s with modern instrumentals, giving the music a unique distinct feel. Although they only have one album (“II”), released back in 2009, their gloomy songs about unattainable love, lust and desire led by vocalist Megan Louise’s haunting voice to the radical beats of 80s synthesizers and drums makes for one hell of a listen.

The most striking song from the group comes from the lead single “Under Your Spell,” which finds Louise’s evocative vocals lamenting about an obsessive love that torments her emotionally. Desire manages to evoke a powerfully eerie feeling that is exclusive to their sonic palette.

Given that Desire’s only album was released six years ago, it’s not looking like the group will release anything new anytime soon. Much of the group has continued with other projects, mainly the similar sounding groups, Chromatic and Glass Candy. Until then, “II” makes for an impressionable listen in the distinct retrowave genre.

Adrian Garcia, Contributing Writer