Reviews: Toolbox by Fabio Morabito

Have you ever read a book and wanted to scream its glory to every stranger and friend on the street? Well, this was my reaction after I first read Fabio Morabito’s Toolbox. Since it was originally written in Spanish and then translated into English by Geoff Hargreaves, his prose poetry collection is not very well known in America. However, this work from Morabito deserves to be recognized for its sheer brilliance.

In order to understand the range of Toolbox’s scope, one must first understand the central concept: twelve poems on commonly found objects in a toolbox. Morabito succeeds in what every poem ultimately strives for by presenting the reader with an original perspective on the ordinary details of life. Despite small missteps such as “Screw” regurgitating the previously addressed connection between oil and water in “Oil,” it is impossible not to simply marvel at the breathtaking lines:

“Oil is water that has lost its get up and go, its cheeky forward drive.” “Scissors are ambassadors of cold.” “The sponge is amoral. Hence the ease with which it is penetrated both above and below. Uncritically it lets you poke into its most intimate recesses and relive it of all its secrets. All you need to do is turn into water.”

Every poem strives for one or more metaphors directly related to each object. A central premise of “Sponge” for example is how it acts like a labyrinth. While such a metaphor makes perfect sense, I had never thought of a sponge as anything more than a sponge until I read that poem. Morabito takes the mundane and lifts it to epic proportions.

The Mexican graphic artist Bernard Recamier complements Morabito’s poetry. Before each poem, the object is seen from a wide perspective. Afterwards, one can view every ridge of the knife, oil’s devil face, and the string’s snake tail. Recamier’s art moves from the macro to the micro by poetic realization.

When considering Toolbox on a whole, it’s a collection that speaks on many levels. With so many intricate details and nuances, I know a review can’t do complete justice to Morabito’s vision. Nevertheless, his vision is one that dazzles a contemplating satisfied mind and every poet, writer, and reader alike should try to tackle the promise of Toolbox.

Morabito, Fabio. Toolbox. Trans. Geoff Hargreaves. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 1999. Print.

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