Commentaries

Clayton Eshleman

Four new poems from ‘Penetralia’

A Half Hour with Basquiat

 

Skull trash staring through wall splash.

Face skillet with sunny-side-up red eyeballs.

Black heel sprouting splayed white fingers.

We have no Hades,    only fetus graffiti!

                  

Benjamin Hollander, 1952–2016

Benjamin Hollander, August 2016, at Piccolo Forno, North Beach, San Francisco. P
Benjamin Hollander, August 2016, at Piccolo Forno, North Beach, San Francisco. Photo by Norma Cole.

Benjamin Hollander passed away from brain cancer on November 21, 2016. Ben — Benjamin Barry Hollander, called Barry by his family — was born in Haifa, Israel, August 26, 1952. His mother and father were both refugees from Germany. He immigrated, with his parents and his brother Gad, the younger of two older brothers, to New York City (briefly to Brooklyn, then to Jamaica, Queens) in 1958. In 1978, with his wife, Rosemary Manzo, Ben moved to San Francisco, where he lived and raised his family — and where he passed away this month. Over the past three decades, after earning a master's degree at San Francisco State University, he taught English, writing, and critical thinking primarily at Chabot College, across the Bay from San Francisco, in Hayward, California. Among other courses one he revisited at several local schools focused on Holocaust literature, extending that term to include the war on Bosnian Muslims.

Editorial note: Joshua Schuster and Steve Dickison have shared the following remembrance of Benjamin Hollander, and we are grateful for the opportunity to publish it in Jacket2.

Ballads, portraits, and tenses

Amy Stidham

J2 editorial assistant Amy Stidham weighs in on three new review titles: As the Verb Tenses by Lynley Edmeades, Power Ballads by Garrett Caples, and Lunch Portraits by Debora Kuan. Of Edmeades’s As the Verb Tenses, she notes that “these poems are a contemplative pause, a breath in which Edmeades, at times anxiously, tries to sort out the past and construct a future.” And Caples’s Power Ballads ntroduces the reader “to a fat Marlon Brando, transforms temporarily into James Bond, simply because he’s feeling ‘Italian and musical,’ and writes a poetic biography for Richard O. Moore in the style of Bob Dylan.”

J2 editorial assistant Amy Stidham weighs in on three new poetry releases.



As the Verb Tenses
, Lynley Edmeades (Otago University Press, 2016)

The arc of our ark

Bio-poetics over the DNA rainbow

This commentary series has traced out just a few implications of bio-poetic work, and speculated on some of its futures. For all of the potential recklessness of such tampering and tinkering with genes and molecules, Steve Tomasula also imagines a “Midrash” of bio-ethics being forged, or at least illuminated, by the collective endeavors of genetic artists. Such work does much more than merely illustrate bio-tech capabilities; it performs an embodied auto-critique in which genes and bodies are put at deliberate and provocative risk.

Jerome Rothenberg: A poem for the cruel minority

[Written during the Reagan administration as “A Poem for the Cruel Majority” & a counter to talk then about “the silent majority” & its rising place in our national politics. The result of the recent election, in which a minority of the electorate brought Donald J. Trump into office, caused me to rethink & to reword the earlier designation. If further changes are needed (& they will be), I’ll think about it. (J. R.)]