I’ve been asked to have a look at Sawako Nakayasu's prose poem "Couch." In a very nice email Brian Reed, Craig Dworkin, and Al Filreis say they “really hope you will provide your initial approach to the experience of reading and trying to discern or understand or deal with the poem as you encounter it.” Already I feel I’m in trouble.
[The post-Holocaust fate of Yiddish writing is something that’s troubled my mind since the murders of the last century appeared to have decimated both language & culture. Avrom Sutzkever (1913-2010), who fought as a partisan during the years of the khurbn, was one of the outstanding survivors with many kudos & honors in his later years, but the secular mysticism & near surrealism/realism of some of his work wasn’t easy to grasp as he came over to us largely in that more ethnic context & in a translated language not his own. W
Gregory Kiewiet, In The Company of Words (Past Tents Press, 2006), 114 pp., $12.00; Lily Brown, Old With You (Kitchen Press, 2009), unpaginated, $7.00—Kiewiet’s first book is an interesting collection of styles, from straightforward narrative (which dominates the first quarter of the book) to more procedural, if not experimental, forms. The most successful of the longer sequences that dominate the book are “Foursomes” and “Rooms Without Locks.” The best of these are wry, semi-ironic commentaries on doubt and uncertainty (“Not for lack of purpose/ the ever-impending backwards glance/making it impossible/ to stir the soup and listen to the radio:/ Ravel or Satie?” Sometimes Kietwiet’s wit can be brittle to the point of sardonic, as demonstrated in this pithy paper cut from “Foursomes”: “Whose turn is it/ to love or leave?/ The acres of unanswered questions/ “’Cream or sugar’?”