Duncan, late in his life, arrived in a similar neighborhood when he began to leave the poems of "Passages" unnumbered. They would no longer be a sequence - from Latin sequor, "follow" - but a cluster, a constellation of poems that could be entered at any point, read in any order. The "order" of "Passages," then, is something like that described in a sentence of Emerson's Finkelstein paraphrases: "The center is everywhere / and the circumference nowhere"
The act of reading, after all, always leaves "some other's / dreams" at least partially "enfolded in the self." Finkelstein's gift, in Track, lies in his ability to stay half self-conscious and half spellbound by those others' dreams.
Finkelstein’s Track undertakes a voyage beset by recombinatory duress. An excursus through realms where “the letters / arrive to be destroyed,” this wickedly wise poem keeps on arriving long after it's done--a lingering track or trade of mind in mind, trouble in mind. It is a beautiful, beguiling book of unrest.
Track beautifully reminds us that pain and uncertainty are “to be exchanged for music.” This is a haunting “broken crown” of a poem in which language’s power to name transmutes loss simultaneously into celebration and epiphany.
For a long time now, Norman Finkelstein has exercised the most deep intelligence and
music in our poetry, on behalf of Poetry. In Track, his gifts travel to zenith. The cumulative
sense and soul of so many passages ventured, so many thresholds crossed, shed a perfect
radiance. In Track, the light is solid.
Norman Finkelstein is the author of Restless Messengers and three volumes of literary criticism, the most recent of which is Not One of Them In Place: Modern Poetry and Jewish American Identity. He lives in Cincinnati, where he is a Professor of English at Xavier University.