Planet Tome Reborn by Helene Pilibosian is a continuation of the story begun in her earlier work A New Orchid Myth. In this volume, Amethyst, Granite, and their daughter Taralee travel to Earth from their home planet Tome. Taralee meets and marries Ted in Boston, and the four protagonists embark on a mission to collect plant life and technology vital to Tome’s continued prosperity.
A hybrid of sci/fi fantasy and lyric poetry, the plot is a bit difficult to tease out from Pilibosian’s figurative lexicon and it is not always clear who is speaking or who is being referred to with vague personal pronouns.
She is skillful with description, however, artfully capturing Boston’s beauty, and her musings on language, both its limits and its capacity, are compelling:
A word is only/ its spelling and pronunciation/ with a belief thrown in/ like cream in coffee.
Without a traditional linear narrative, Pilibosian tells her story in impressionistic pieces, accentuated by meditations on art and aesthetics, the regenerative powers of nature, and the perilous consequences of war and insufficient respect for the environment. Then there is the pleasure of the poet’s use of rhythm and internal rhyme to create something exquisite:
Electricity lights/ the biography of the town/ grown to a blare/ and sparing no avenues.
Bending genres and blending styles, Pilibosian creates something of a unique palette here that should win new readers and satisfy those familiar with her work.