Out of Nowhere: Poems

  • Review
By – August 15, 2022

In her debut poet­ry col­lec­tion, Out of Nowhere, writer and teacher Susan Comni­nos med­i­tates on the won­der­ment of the nat­ur­al world and the ten­sion between nature’s con­sis­ten­cy and its changes. She notices sim­i­lar­i­ties in art, such as the nud­ists who vis­it the Lou­vre and become their own instal­la­tions. Some of her poems appear to have come out of the pan­dem­ic; the speak­er in the poem Ques­tion for the Sages” finds beau­ty in times when peo­ple feel that there is no rea­son to cel­e­brate, as in the blue­bells that keep ris­ing / from the moist dirt by the dump­ster,” pro­vid­ing bits of hope.

Most poems have brief epigraphs that indi­cate address, like A Love Poem” for the speaker’s moth­er, which begins, Adon­ai of night and of flow­ers, / God of my life. I was not expect­ed to be / beau­ti­ful. When flow­ers grew from my hands, I sur­prised every­one / but my moth­er.” Some of her poems include Jew­ish sym­bols or Hebrew or Yid­dish words. Oth­ers, such as Our Father, Our King” and We Have Tres­passed,” invoke Jew­ish High Holy Day prayers and voice frus­tra­tion with male-cen­tric liturgy.

Many poems depict trav­el­ing or wan­der­ing. In the Arc­tic Trav­el­er,” about a fox who walks thou­sands of miles across ice, the speak­er asks a series of questions:

… What


taste kept you slipping

across con­ti­nents, meted

in miles, from your glossed


caps in sun­light, all

sum­mer — to this

Cana­di­an post?

There is love in wan­der­lust, the poet seems to say, and ani­mals and their habi­tats ought to be revered. She med­i­tates fur­ther on the rela­tion­ship between humans and the nat­ur­al world when she notes that many peo­ple — like the men dri­ving a truck around a dog park aim­less­ly in the poem At the Dog Park, Late” — intend to dis­rupt its balance.

Full of lyri­cism, Comninos’s poems inter­sperse nat­ur­al beau­ty with love, loss, and faith while pay­ing homage to mean­ing­ful places and peo­ple in her life.

Jamie Wendt is the author of the poet­ry col­lec­tion Fruit of the Earth (Main Street Rag, 2018), which won the 2019 Nation­al Fed­er­a­tion of Press Women Book Award in Poet­ry. Her man­u­script, Laugh­ing in Yid­dish, was a final­ist for the 2022 Philip Levine Prize in Poet­ry. Her poems and essays have been pub­lished in var­i­ous lit­er­ary jour­nals and antholo­gies, includ­ing Fem­i­nine Ris­ingGreen Moun­tains Review, Lilith, Jet Fuel Review, the For­ward, Poet­i­ca Mag­a­zine, and oth­ers. She con­tributes book reviews to Jew­ish Book Coun­cil as well as to oth­er pub­li­ca­tions, includ­ing Lit­er­ary Mama and Mom Egg Review. She has received an Hon­or­able Men­tion Push­cart Prize and was nom­i­nat­ed for Best Spir­i­tu­al Lit­er­a­ture. She holds an MFA in Cre­ative Writ­ing from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Nebras­ka Oma­ha. She is a mid­dle school Human­i­ties teacher and lives in Chica­go with her hus­band and two kids. 

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