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Throughout the manuscript, The Face I Never Saw, there is a yearning for someone who has died, disappeared, or abandoned the speaker, and the resulting struggles and suffering, with a search for some redemption from the one who is absent. There is a kind of resolution in the last piece of poetic prose, “Building the Sanctuary,” that seems to satisfy this desire with the appearance of a girl that an abandoned family constructs a sanctuary for and treats as a lost sought-after divine presence. But she is also paradoxically linked in the concluding lines of the poem with the final lines of the preceding piece “Cataclysm,” where a woman in a mental hospital reaches a sense of peace, after traversing a terrifying terrain, by putting herself to sleep.
"Let me trust your words coming upon me.."
In The Face I Never Saw, poet Bettina Rotenberg sees the inner face that speaks the unspeakable mysteries of 'life and death’ with an accurate sympathy and echoing love that is seldom heard with such clarity and grace. (Sarah Menefee)
Paperback: 110 pages
Publishing date: September 15, 2019
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
Bettina Rotenberg grew up in Toronto, attended Radcliffe College, studied painting for three years, and received her PhD in Comparative Literature from University of California, Berkeley. She taught art, literature, and creative writing at colleges in the Bay Area, and between 1995 and 2015 was the founding Director of VALA (Visual Arts/Language Arts). She sent visual and performing artists into public schools in the East Bay to work with poets to teach low income minority children poetry in conjunction with the arts. She wrote a book about her work, I Dare to Stop the Wind, which was published in 2010. She now writes, draws, teaches, and takes care of her dog.