Review of Lifeboat (Kristine Muslim)

Unearthing a Mountain

“Don’t think just / because you find them invisible that they no longer exist.” Kristine Muslim’s flowing, ever-salient, drifting collection Lifeboat hints at the unseen, the other, the just below the surface, and in so doing, unearths a mountain of beauty, danger, and emotion.

The aptly named Lifeboat engenders a nautical theme, though in no paunchy, anti-ironic way. It embraces the pools from which these poems surfaced. In a sea of people, Muslim seems to understand how stricken we might become, how drenched in drowning this air might be: “Driving home, one of you will understand that even loneliness can be perfected.”

Among a collection that rarely strays from incisive penmanship, some of my favorite poems were the pared back “From Any Given Sidewalk”, “One Night Stand”. and “Endurance Test”, where Muslim bluntly pulls off bandages and scabs to show us truth, a reality bent far enough from itself to show it as it is.

An Effortless Swim

Entirely quotable and filled with verse that reminds readers why we should read poetry in the first place, the collection, while venturing abstract, a collusion of dream and dare, also hits hard: “For years, this town has become an exhaust pipe. / It gets dirtier no matter which way I come in or out.” Readable and re-readable, this is a mattress of words worth return, where fresh parity beckons a mind back.

In a landscape where so much modern poetry flounders or sinks beneath the waves, Muslim’s poetry swims effortlessly.


Purchase Lifeboat by Kristine Muslim, published by University of Santo Tomas Publishing House.


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