Commentaries

Two translations

Lermontov and Nezval — in collaboration with Milos Sovak

[In celebration of what would have been the eightieth birthday, July 31, of Milos Sovak, I’m posting the following translations which he and I coauthored in the last years of his life. By the time of his death in 2009, our friendship had lasted over thirty years and had given me the opportunity to work with him on a series of translations, the most important a book of selected poems from the great Czech modernist Vitezslav Nezval and scattered poems from the late Russian Romantic Mikhail Lermontov.

Vulnerabilities at the end of the world

Orchid Tierney

Orchid Tierney reviews three 2021 titles that explore survival in periods of crisis: Poem That Never Ends by Silvina López Medin (Essay Press, 2021); A Feeling Called Heaven by Joey Yearous-Algozin (Nightboat Books, 2021); and Curb by Divya Victor (Nightboat Books, 2021).

Back to 'A Whole House'

A 'Trouble Songs' addendum

Jeff T. Johnson presents “A Whole House,” a new installment to his “Trouble Songs” project.

In 2015, we published “Trouble Songs: A Musicological Poetics,” Jeff T.

The Dada Andrews Sisters — 'Six Jerks in a Jeep'

The Andrews Sisters perform Sid Robin’s zany novelty song, let’s call it zoot-suit Dada for the “bleeps” enlisting in the US Army to fight the Nazis. Not quite Spike Jones’s “Der Fuehrer’s Face,” but even so, Robin pays tribute to the the unheroic “schlemiels” that’re gonna win the war. The jeep weeps for the jerks/wacks/quacks/creeps who are on their way to fight and die. “Six Jerks in a Jeep” combines slang and scat with rhyming abandon. It’s Nude Formalism as comic propaganda. 

At the risk of tarpooing the jouissance, the self-deprecation here is transvaluation. You have to be a jerk to go to war, knowing it’s not only hell but futile; knowing it’s the schmoes who end up on the front line while the privileged stay safe far from the action And yet, three cheers for them (them is us). 

The song was included in the 1942 WWII Army recruitment film, Private Buckaroo. Robin, a private, originally wrote it for a GI review. It didn’t make it onto an Andrews Sister Decca album and so remains one of their lesser known songs. But it’s pure lyric gold.

The transcription is mine: {stanzas bracketed} are in full recording [also YouTube] but not in movie clip. If you have any corrections, let me know. 

Six Jerks In A Jeep

N. H. Pritchard: 1978 interview

Norman Pritchard, September 6, 1978 in his Brooklyn library/study. Photo © George Malave, may not be reproduced without permission.

Judd Tully interviewed N. H. (Norman) Pritchard on Sept. 11, 1978. The ninety-minute conversation is informative and engrossing, offering more information about Pritchard than has been previously available. Pritchard was a poet in the CETA / Cultural Council Foundation Artists Project in New York and Tully, a CETA writer, interviewed him as part of the program. PennSound is happy to make this recording, made as part of the Artists Project, available, thanks to Tully and to Molly Garfinkel of CityLore. Records of Pritchard's CETA assigments are here. For upated information on Pritchard's manuscripts, see David Grundy's report.