Small Crimes by Andrea Jurjević
I love the way, in Andrea Jurjevićs poems, beauty and horror walk arm-in-arm, the way each poem is dense, cacophonous with images, complex and layered as a Kusturica film; the way I want to look away, sometimes, and can’t. I love the way she takes me, through her poems, to the human underside of the war in her native Balkans, and to the underside of America, and to the underside of love. I love the wrecked love poems most of all, for their brutal tenderness, for what survives.
Andrea Jurjevic’s Small Crimes begins during the Croatian war years of the early 1990’s. In the midst of bombings, sniper shootings, and firing squads, the speaker of the poems manages to live an almost normal adolescence, thanks to her grit, her attachment to family, and her skepticism. The book then moves to the postwar years and onward into America, which is not without its own perils. This is a collection that is often dark but just as often beautiful. Jurjevic’s language crackles with energy, and she lingers lovingly over the intimate details of a life that is lived with the eyes wide open.
C. G. Hanzlicek, Philip Levine Prize judge