by Michael P. Toner
David P. Kozinski is a Wilmington, Delaware native who hails from a formidable musical family, most of whose ancestors were Polish and Lithuanian, but I suspect it was his Irish grandmother who helped contribute to his burgeoning poetic talents. He is well-known and published widely in various poetry journals. TRIPPING OVER MEMORIAL DAY is his second full-length poetry book, a rich and rewarding journey through his meditations on love and loss, friends absented through death and love regained, the persistence of memory and the foreboding future, nature’s bounty as well as its barrenness, and always for the intricately observing poet there is “time’s winged chariot hurrying near,” as Andrew Marvell would have it. David Kozinski has gleaned much from his lifelong eclectic reading of other poets American, British and European, and this regimen-- together with his innate sense of language, its rhythms and possibilities, spoken and unspoken -- has given his poetry a lyric thrust and unique resonance that lingers in the mind, making one eager to re-read these eloquent yet very accessible poems, which mirror our lives so accurately, so poignantly.
As the critic Jonathan Cull has written, “The art of the lyric lies in creating something pitched between the now and the ever, which manages to appear at once universal and an address to me (the reader) at this moment. This in turn can explain the peculiar pathos a poem can create...a poem can let you step into a moment that is always lyric-- not the description and interpretation of a past event, but the iterative (repeating) performance of an event in the lyric present.” Kozinski in his writing is a master of this sort of pathos and iteration, an empathetic listener and seer, whose poetic vision is most bountiful when it comes to lyric expression. He “takes us with him,” as Shakespeare says, as we experience the poem with the poet in an ephemeral present, all the more effective for its fleeting sense of time. Heady stuff? Not really-- after all, it’s the reason why people read and write poetry.
I must confess here that I write this review not only because David is a friend and tennis partner whom I have known for many years, and witnessed his struggle to create his life experience in written words on a page, a struggle that has cost him much in expense of time and spirit. Nor because two poems in this collection refer to yours truly. But foremost because David Kozinski is a force of moment in contemporary American poetry who deserves a significantly wider audience. The honesty, humor and originality of his writing brings many rewards to the prospective reader. His lyric images linger in the imagination long after the initial close reading, with its shock of recognition that the poem’s true speaker could be your very self.
David P. Kozinski: TRIPPING OVER MEMORIAL DAY. Poetry. Kelsay Books; American Fork, UT: 2017. $15.