Commentaries - July 2014

87 Words for John Ashbery at 87


First reading of Sawako Nakayasu's 'Couch' (3)

Robert Archambeau

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.

Droll/Kolbert Gallery Series (NY) curated by Ted Greenwald (1978-1980)

Ted Greewald by Tom Raworth (2010)

November 2, 1978
Lorenzo Thomas (41:57): MP3

November 16, 1978
Ron Padgett (37:21): MP3

November 30, 1978
Paul Violi (31:40): MP3

December 13, 1979
Michael Brownstein (45:32): MP3

Avrom Sutzkever: 'Green Aquarium,' a poem newly translated from Yiddish by Zackary Sholem Berger

(l. to r.): Avrom Sutzkever, Abba Kover and Gershon Abramowicz in the Vilna Ghet
(l. to r.): Avrom Sutzkever, Abba Kover and Gershon Abramowicz in the Vilna Ghetto, 1942.

[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

Two upcoming poets: Gregory Kiewiet and Lily Brown

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’?”