An Imaginary Affair is a collection of sensitive and sensuous poems for poets and non-poets who appreciate the challenges and intricacies of being human. The poems touch on key human elements, such as love, desire, passion, memory, loss, and gratitude. The poet celebrates the joys, and pains inherent to a woman’s heart, while honoring the wisdoms and tones of Neruda’s poetry. Some of the epistolary poems are directed to Neruda in response to his riveting poems
Reviews of “An Imaginary Affair: Poems Whispered to Neruda by Diana Raab
“Written in response to lines by the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, these poems have a daring directness and vulnerability. These are not poems that hide their emotion behind artifice. They explore the beginnings – and inevitable endings – of attraction with a tender and elemental honesty.”
~ Sue William Silverman, author, If the Girl Never Learns
“An imaginary affair is more than a conversation with Neruda’s poems. In this book, Diana Raab unveils trauma, desire, her life experience (“I am ready to wave goodbye to memories/and bow to gratitude”), and her passionate, non-imaginary affair with poetry. The language is sensual, synesthetic, and at the same time restrained, precise (“flecks of lemon rind float about this whiskey/swirled with honey from the bee that loves/that buzz you give me”). With subtlety and determination An Imaginary Affair invites the reader to enter the intimacy of poetry; its wisdom (“And we move together slowly, one step/at a time toward another dance, another life”).
~ Mariano Zaro, author of Decoding Sparrows
“In this intimate collection of poems, Diana Raab pays tribute to the sensual physicality of Pablo Neruda’s work and to her own real and invented lives. With unvarnished honesty, An Imaginary Affair celebrates a woman’s heart and mind through a handful of odes, epistolary poems, and the idea that memory and anticipation can sustain and nourish us; even drinking a glowing hot toddy is transformed into a meditation on how an ordinary act can awaken desire. Her unvarnished honesty gives equal attention to matters of mortality, where loss is lyrically considered (“…will you run from me / when trains sleep at their stations”), and also explored in the spirit of open curiosity (“How long does it take / for a pine casket to disintegrate / in this caving land…). These poems remind us that to be alive is to try and balance joy and lament, and how through this effort we more deeply inhabit the world and ourselves.”
~ Emma Trelles, author of Tropicalia and Poet Laureate of Santa Barbara
It isn’t unusual for a writer to be influenced and inspired by other writers. Diana Raab takes that inspiration one step further in An Imaginary Affair: Poems Whispered to Neruda. Penning a collection that serves as heartfelt and direct responses to specific works of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Over the course of roughly two dozen poems, Raab writes in a tone that is vulnerable, sensual, therapeutic, and pleading- somehow often all simultaneously.
The book as a whole is a quick read. Most of the pieces are comprised of only a handful of lines, but the imagery created by Raab’s words linger long after, in many cases prompting a careful re-read for a more complete picture. Poetry is a highly subjective art, but it is hard to ignore the power and the passion that live on these pages and exist with an almost palpable ferocity. It takes a strong grasp of language and nuance to create a collection on this level.
I enjoyed this collection immensely and wish there was more of it to read. I especially liked the fact that the author included the list of poems each of hers was paired with, so readers could investigate further and become familiar with Neruda’s work. For existing fans of Neruda’s, this collection is a wonderful compliment and a must read. For those not familiar with him it serves as a loving homage and an introduction. This is a fantastic collection with excellent writing that opens a gateway to new things.