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« When Norman Mailer is the Toughest Person You Can Think Of [by Patrick Hunt] | Main | Trochaic Theory Picks Obama [by David Lehman] »

August 06, 2008


the man who invented farting was named julius jaffe. the first man to be kicked in the balls was named george henry.

This poem splits open and keeps gathering its forcelessness like a parody of power itself.
All these beginnings, all these almost-ends. It is one of the most amazing poems
I have seen for the last few years. It has
a taste of infra-realism in Roberto Bolano.
It is very sadly Borgesian, but I will stop by saying it's as if someone had taken Cavafy and set him to a bizarre music.
So it's (the poem) anti-authoritarian and
traditional at once. Like a Chinese "acrobat" who is almost utterly'modern and then is also appealing to
forms of coercion we can onlky guess at. This is the best--very personal and, for that,
very tender. Not all the water in the rough rude poetryworld will wash the freshness of this annointed poem. It has the breath of Agnon, and his schlars gone mad mystically.

DS's allusion to the ancient caste of "schlars" in prehistoric Lithuania was probably overlooked by most readers. Their offices, to take the neapolitan census, to regulate money-supply, and to divide the onion correctly before using it as a shoe-horn, were assigned them by the chief schlarn, of whom they were regarded as mere fragments. The reference likewise to the kinship relation in that era known as "onlky," roughly great grandmother's third cousin, if in funds, clinches the historical burden. I am happy to see that someone at least understood the historicity of this work, not least its undercurrent of imitation of Kulintang music, not generally strifted into the metrical contract with as much skill as the poem has attempted here. Practitioners of sill apotropaics will know what to make of this, while those more innocent (may their tribe increase) will know even better. More anon.
--Jim Dolot

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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