Tag Archives: Summer 2014

The Pedestrians

PedestriansRachel Zucker
Wave Books ($18)

by Geula Geurts

Rachel Zucker's ninth book of poetry, The Pedestrians, is really a double collection, as it’s divided into two sections: “Fables” and “The Pedestrians.” Both sections form a cohesive whole that resonates like a mother's cry against the hustle and bustle of the New York City skyline. “Fables” leaves the city and seeks solitude in nature, whereas “The Pedestrians” delves into the turbulent bowels of the metropolis. Zucker makes a distinction between nature and city, but throughout she blurs lines between the two, as well as between animal nature and humanity, solitude and chaotic motherhood: all blend into one female howl of day-to-day survival.

Written in third-person narrative prose, “Fables” moves like a lost tourist meditating on place and nature. Focusing on a tired mother and housewife, Zucker skillfully creates a character with an emotionally detached voice, echoing the woman's attempt to detach herself from motherly duties and city life. Hungry for affection and serenity, the woman goes on holiday with her family, but experiences nothing of the expected relief:

She lay next to the snoring husband in the sublet bed and . . . the bedroom smelled like smoke and the wooden floors of the bathroom smelled like her three sons' urine . . . she realized that this city, so unlike her city, was exactly like her city and that everyone in her city was exactly like everyone in this city and that they were all animals and that animals can only be animals.

Zucker's boldness allows for honest encounters with raw marriage and motherhood:

She had a small copper wire inside her. . . . Without the chance of another child, sex lost some of its appeal, purposefulness, danger, pleasure . . .

"We're animals," he says, happily after sex.

"No," she thinks. Not anymore.

When the woman returns to her native city, which has transformed into an animal: "bridges curve like snakes," buses and trucks look like "chummy canines," buildings have bowels. The woman seems incapable of separating the blurred boundaries of nature and city life. Likewise, she can't ever really detach herself from her family, try as she might. “Fables” ends with this realization:

It's never safe to stay, she wanted to say. There is no such thing as leaving. . . .

There was no going away. Wherever she went they were with her.

In “The Pedestrians,” Zucker zooms in on the mother's busy life and creates poetic gems that echo her overwhelming day-to-day experience. The first-person narrative poems here create an intimacy with the speaker and her anxieties. In "mindful" we see Zucker's talent of connecting form with meaning; the poetic lines are mostly enjambed, which speeds up the tempo and creates a dizzying effect. Without a break between the lines, we feel out of breath, like the exhausted mother does:

want to ask why is this life so run-
run-run long underground train then crosstown bus
that is my son w/his 50 small feet kicking screaming
Too slow bus!
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I've forgotten to oh! left my urgh!
meat in the freezer or oven on so what? don't
make dinner? ha ha who will? the military?

The poem "pedestrian" verbalizes the mother's fear of losing her humanity in a city that is slowly transforming her into a surviving animal:

taking the shuttle at Times Square during rush hour
causes me serious distress a human tsunami perhaps
we deserve a large-scale population reduction
it seems inevitable I'm dehumanized by NY & my
proximity to others fatal loneliness of crowds

Poetry itself seems to be the mother's only comfort; she knows "reading and writing creates a private sphere /in a way that thinking can't." In "i'd like a little flashlight" she is able to express her deepest desires:

& I'd like to get naked & into bed & be
HOT radiating heat from the inside . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I'd like a little flashlight to write poems w/this lousy day
not this poem I'm writing under the mostly flat
blaze of bulb but a poem written w/the light itself
a tiny fleeting love poem to life a poem that says
Look here a bright spot of life oh look another!

Zucker’s collection of poetry bears testimony to both her poetic brilliance and motherly ability to "juggle her family like eggs or oranges." Her hybrid style blends prose and verve into one urban stream, rendering her poems “worth their weight in ink” (as she puts in in “pedestrian”). Her words reverberate like the roar of an empowered lioness, as she emerges victoriously from the city jungle of her life, a mentor to all mothers.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Summer 2014 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2014

Everything Begins Elsewhere

everythingbeginsTishani Doshi
Copper Canyon Press ($16)

by James Naiden

Born in 1975 in Madras, India, Tishana Doshi reveals a delicate but febrile sensibility in her second collection, Everything Begins Elsewhere. A graduate of the Johns Hopkins University writing program, she worked in advertising for a London firm before returning to live in India in 2001, and now resides in a “village by the sea in South India, and elsewhere.”

Doshi’s poems are wrought with a keen eye for subtlety and nuance, using exactly the right visual description for what she sees. She also captures ineffable aspects of human life, such as the dynamics between people and that never-to-be recaptured essence known as the past, as in these final lines from “Lines to a Lover from a Previous Century”:

Just come to me once again,
so when it’s time to meet my maker
I’ll know to ask the breeze
where to find the vagabond of love.
And when the breeze gathers up
a little dust into the air,
my love, I’ll know to end this wait,
and follow it like a prayer.

This poet knows her business and then some—perhaps because she is also a novelist and a dancer. In this book, there is a wistful but realistic hope measured against the shores of experience. She is not fooled by cant or self-delusion. At the same time, Doshi can wield a problematic instrument such as the question mark in her poems, and to great effect. Here are the opening, free-wheeling lines of “Homeland”:

What if the dead came back as bandits—
a whole army of them on herds of camels,
brandishing swords and Kalashnikovs?

What if they could reclaim our land
with weapons instead of words?

If they came to our roofless shelters
at night with salves for our wounds
and water for our lips?

This collection is impressive by any standard of aesthetic evaluation. Doshi has crafted her poems from a riveting sensibility and life journey into a beautiful gathering, not unlike the flowers and ethereal human beauty she cherishes. The difference is that we have these fragile essences and images down in print, statements that will not go away.

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Purchase this book at your local independent bookstore.
Rain Taxi Online Edition Summer 2014 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2014

The Crocodile

thecrocodileMaurizio de Giovanni
translated by Antony Shugaar
Europa Editions ($17)

by Kelsey Irving Beson

Across class, age, and experience, the characters that people Maurizio de Giovanni’s The Crocodile are defined by their injuries. The driving force behind the plot is grief, and a looming depression pervades the narrative. Like many noir heroes, the protagonist of The Crocodile is an outsider: Inspector Giuseppe Lojacono has been forced to relocate from his beloved Sicilian city of Agrigento northward to Naples, chained to a desk at a police station in a remote precinct. Though both cities are in Italy, Lojacono feels like he has been exiled to a vaguely hostile foreign country.

The fact that he is serving penance for a crime he did not commit adds a stinging resentment to his loneliness. When a series of seemingly motiveless murders across class lines sets the entire city reeling, the police have no lead and the magistrate assigns Lojacono to the case out of sheer desperation. The itinerant detective must delve deep into the pasts of several recalcitrant, secretive characters, each with something to hide, in order to apprehend the murderer whom the press has dubbed “the Crocodile”—so named because he leaves tear-stained tissues at each crime scene.

Even though Lojacono is the only literal exile in the book, mentally, all of these characters are outsiders motivated by alienation, angst, and loss. Each moves through life nursing their own private pain—the story is one of both modern estrangement and enduring grief. This isolation makes it easy for the Crocodile to make his way through the city unnoticed:

Who should bother to glance at him, no different from so many others like him, phantoms that populate the city of shadows? . . .
. . . No one sees those who walk in silence, head down, clearly beset by thoughts and problems; no one wants to run the risk of sharing thoughts and problems, even if it entails nothing more than exchanging a glance.

Naples is desperate to discover the author of these crimes, but, ironically, in an anonymous urban landscape, nobody wants to know. Lojacono’s shared outsider status gives him a special insight into the psyche of the Crocodile: “I can tell you that it’s very easy to be invisible here . . . the city’s full of phantoms, people who come and go unnoticed in your midst.”

At times, Lojacono almost seems to share some kind of psychic link with his nemesis. The other characters see this and recognize it as both expedient and chilling: “It kind of scares me how clearly you can see into the Crocodile’s head; it almost seems as if you’re in touch with him, somehow.” In this vein, The Crocodile’s narrative is also full of doubles and coincidence, which makes for a plot that legitimates a second read. The gray Naples landscape is populated with shadowy characters whose pasts are full of fatal accidents, chronic illness, abandonment, and stubborn ill-will. Tyrannical parents, lingering deaths, and private tragedies function as both aesthetic backdrop and motivating force. These parallels across the characters’ experience give them and their relationships gravity and relevance, even when they are not specifically connected.

Many readers may think of Naples as a sunny, culture-rich tourist haven. However, de Giovanni’s descriptions of the city are more evocative of a blank urban landscape akin to a car-strewn junkyard in a Fernando di Leo movie:

. . . the city waterfront, with thousands of indifferent cars whizzing past the barnacle-encrusted rocks, under spitting rain and a grey sky. The rancid stench, the white rocks piled up like a barricade, the casual litter, plastic bags bobbing in the stagnant water like so many jellyfish corpses.
. . . And it became clear to him that this was no seaside city; here the city and the sea vied in their mutual indifference, ostentatiously ignoring one another like a couple of cousins in the aftermath of a terrible feud.

Although Lojacono feels like an interloper in Naples, this filthy urban setting seems perfect for his vague angst. All this estranged brooding, however, does not mean that The Crocodile is not a narrative-driven novel—the book also works very satisfyingly as a giallo yarn, complete with a lingering, almost lovingly clinical description of a female corpse and the sort of savage, sardonic plot twists that define the genre.

One of the main themes of the book is a lack of justice, moral triumph, or vindication. At the end of the story, little has really changed for Lojacono—he’s still the same outsider, moving alone through a meaningless landscape. The Crocodile’s combination of enduring existentialist themes and giallo titillation blurs the line between literature and genre fiction, and the book is recommended for fans of either.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Summer 2014 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2014

Nine Rabbits

ninerabbitsVirginia Zaharieva
translated by Angela Rodel
Black Balloon Publishing ($16)

by Chris Beal

Virginia Zaharieva’s Nine Rabbits, translated from Bulgarian, gives English-speaking readers a chance to sample literature from a part of the world about which most of us know little. Straddling the lines between literary genres, the book is classified as fiction, reads like memoir, and at the same time is chock full of recipes suitable for a book on home cooking.

The narrator, while bearing the fictional name “Manda,” seems but a thin disguise for the author. There is no defined fictional persona here; instead, the narrator doesn't seem to know who she is, and hopes to find out by writing. Thus, Nine Rabbits reads more like a memoir than a novel or series of stories.

Each chapter—usually just two to four pages and often ending with a recipe or two—centers around a theme, which might be abstract, concrete, or metaphorical. Examples are “Corset,” “Turkey,” “Exodus,” “Nobody,” “The Mad Hatter.” Usually some event has generated an idea, which is then teased open. The recipes—an eclectic mix of mostly East European dishes with natural, fresh ingredients—sound delicious, and they may also have the purpose of grounding the writer and the writing. It is as though she were saying that we need our connection to the physical world, and food best serves that purpose.

The story is told in two parts; the first explores Manda's childhood while the second records her adult thoughts and feelings. In the childhood section, no adjectives are spared in describing the cruelty of the grandmother who raised her. When things get really bad, Manda seeks solace and help from the nuns at a nearby monastery. Sometimes one or the other of her parents, whose work lives make it impossible to keep her with them, makes a rare appearance:

     “My dearest, sweetest little girl,” my mother whispered. “What has my crazy mother done to you? Does it hurt?”
     I snuggled up to her. My whole body shook with sobs. I begged her not to leave me with Nikula, to take me with her. But she couldn't. . . .”

If Zaharieva actually suffered abuse to the extent portrayed—and the description of it certainly rings true—she has transcended whatever temptation to ax-grind she may have had: while not excusing Manda's grandmother, she seeks to understand her. This is powerful, controlled writing.

As Part Two opens, years have passed and the narrator has become an adult with an abusive husband; she divorces him with much difficulty, taking her son and eventually making a life with a much younger lover, Christos. A selection from the chapter “Diary” gives a sense of the tone:

    I am afraid of life. Writing helps me bear it. I open up space. I pour out onto the pages, so as to free up a place. As I write, I forget living, I watch it from the outside, giving the slowest part of myself a chance to catch up with me. Some people call it soul.

Eventually, Manda becomes a prominent writer in Bulgaria. Still, she feels like a failure, so she studies psychoanalysis and body work. In fact, she explores nearly every avenue for self-discovery open to a modern person. The last chapter finds her at a Zen retreat.

One of the longest chapters describes a trip to Russia with a writers' organization. Manda feels so claustrophobic that she becomes ill as all of the repression during the Communist regime in Bulgaria comes back to her. She writes:

My head is spinning from this kaleidoscopic inversion of values. Here they're again telling me what to do and what not to do. With no choice. They drag me around to some monuments in Kaliningrad, plug my mouth with flowers when talk turns to their problems. They simply turn off the translator's microphone at mention of Chechnya. Poverty, destruction, absurdity, and lies. I feel like I'm caught in a trap.

This chapter is probably powerful for Bulgarian and other East European readers, but for Western readers there isn't enough development of the suffering endured under the Soviet regime to understand Manda’s extreme reaction to being in the “homeland” of this repression, now a thing of the past. Manda was a child during the Communist period, and the main act of the Communist government that she describes was to close down the monastery where she, as a small child, had often sought refuge. Yet her reactions in Russia seem to stem from other events, never mentioned.

Unfortunately, Part Two—which comprises more than two-thirds of the book—never gives the reader the sense that Zaharieva has integrated her experience as an adult. A lot of themes are explored, and yet there is nothing firm to grasp here, no defined sense of who Manda is. While writing Nine Rabbits may have been therapeutic for the author, the reader needs more.

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Purchase this book at your local independent bookstore.
Rain Taxi Online Edition Summer 2014 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2014

New Directions Goes Old School

ND poetry pamphlets

A Review of New Directions Poetry Pamphlets 1-12

by Benjamin Paloff

1945 came late this year. It was four years earlier, in January 1941, that New Directions introduced The Poet of the Month editions, billed as “A Series of Poetry Pamphlets,” with William Carlos Williams’s The Broken Span. The idea was to publish twelve slender volumes a year, thirty-two pages each, saddle-stapled, “as beautifully printed,” the original brochure promised, “in fact, more beautifully printed, than most expensive books.” With a mix of American and European poets, new and old, in its first three years the Poet of the Month pamphlets featured work by John Donne, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Raphael Alberti. Then, after three and a half dozen issues, this experiment in subscription publishing came to an abrupt end.

Or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that it went on extended hiatus. For the Poetry Pamphlets series, which recently completed its first year-long run of twelve titles, clearly continues the earlier program—conspicuously, one might say, were it not for the fact that for most readers today The Poet of the Month might as well not have existed. Printed before the invention of acid-free paper, the pages of the original series have yellowed, their staple-binding rusted. By comparison, the Poetry Pamphlets are sturdy and sleek, with two-tone covers printed on heavy Speckletone paper and a heft that, with most of these volumes exceeding the 48-page limit set by UNESCO, stretches the definition of “pamphlet.” For the exteriors, New Directions has enlisted The Office of Paul Sahre, one of the best design studios around. These are books.

In a sense, New Directions is arriving late to a party that’s already well underway. A number of strong chapbook series featuring established authors and out-of-print work have been running for years now—Sarabande’s for over a decade, Hollyridge Press’s for almost as long; Rain Taxi has been at it since the late 1990s—not to mention several venues that present new and emerging writers in chapbook editions. And some of our best smaller literary presses, including Wave, Ugly Duckling, and Open Letter, now offer subscription services, a potentially powerful, if retro, response to the pressure digital media have placed on paper publishing. The Poetry Pamphlets combine the two, at least for those who choose the monthly subscription through New Directions’ website. While they can be purchased in different retail configurations—individually, as discounted “bundles” of four, or as an annual set with slipcase—the Pamphlets are clearly conceived as a subscription series.

ND-Davis-WeinbergerThere’s something delightfully paradoxical in this entire enterprise. As e-reading technology becomes increasingly refined, and as those ideologically opposed to its mounting advantages seem more and more reactionary in their luddism, literary publishing has to offer a product that no gadget can deliver: not only a text for reading, but a beautiful object for having. Who would have thought that circumstances lamented of late as the “death of the book” would also foster its rebirth, and in a way that recovers some of the most delightful printing and distribution practices of the past?

It also provides a ready opportunity to do something that reviewers rarely get to do, that is, to consider not just one or two titles, but to assess the editorial accomplishment—“the general editorial pattern,” as James Laughlin described it—of a given season. In fact, Laughlin’s language for the original concept applies just as well for the Pamphlets:

The greatest part of the poetry will be American, but we hope each year to include one important English poet not previously published here, something from the classics in translation, and a pamphlet of translations from a modern foreign-language poet. Of the American poets, a few each year will be well-known, established poets, and a few will be young discoveries. So too in the type of material variety will be stressed; while the lyric is bound to predominate, we will schedule for each year at least one verse play and one narrative poem. And finally, as a sort of special savoury in this twelve-course banquet of poetry, we will celebrate each year some great poet of the past with a selection from his work, served up afresh in appealing typographical form.

I am quoting Laughlin at length, from the brochure that announced The Poet of the Month in 1941, for two reasons. First, because the new series hews impressively close to Laughlin’s original vision, though the editors have updated and improved it in much the same way as the production team has updated and improved the materials. Second, because it’s refreshing. Unlike most of its competitors in commercial publishing, New Directions remains a small operation with a clear editorial point-of-view. In an industry that has never not been threatened by public inattention—by the time New Directions made its first profit, the original Poet of the Month Series had come and gone—Laughlin does us the rare courtesy of telling us what we can expect when we check the mail.

ND-HoweWhether the Poetry Pamphlets are a rebirth or a resurrection, they make for an ambitious and often exhilarating execution of Laughlin’s mandate. The poetry, sort of, is still mostly American, sort of. The series’ inaugural volume, Sorting Facts; or, Nineteen Ways of Looking at Marker, is definitely prose, yet Susan Howe’s sense of language is so irrepressibly lyrical that even a book-length essay on documentary film flows effortlessly into a meditation on Andrei Tarkovsky, memory, and the death of her second husband, the artist David von Schlegell. “Surely nonfiction filmmakers sometimes work intuitively by factual telepathy,” Howe suggests. “I call poetry factual telepathy.” Originally written for a 1996 anthology of essays on film, Sorting Facts may also be Howe’s most thorough and poignant ars poetica. We should be grateful to New Directions for giving it new life.

Howe’s book sets a very high bar at the same time as it forecasts much of what will arrive throughout the year. Many pages in the Poetry Pamphlets are written in prose, hybridize prose and verse, or, in a manner reminiscent of W.G. Sebald, trace an interplay between text and photographic image. Many are preoccupied with that most fundamental of poetic gestures: the naming of facts as we perceive them. Eliot Weinberger’s “A Journey on the Colorado River (1869),” combined with Lydia Davis’s “Our Village” to form Two American Scenes (Poetry Pamphlet #2), uses the alternation of prose and verse to evoke the pause-and-flow of an exploratory expedition:

The waters waltz their way through the canyon and our boats spin wildly in whirlpools past the projecting rocks.

We do not know where we are going.

While I am a pilgrim here
let Thy love my spirit cheer

In the evening, camped at the mouth of a small creek, a good supper of trout as we discuss whether to name this place Whirlpool Canyon or Craggy Canyon. We cannot decide.

ND-MayerIn The Helens of Troy, NY (#3), Bernadette Mayer does not need to look hard for names: she simply goes to the eponymous town upstate and pairs photographs—mostly of women named Helen—with poems based on her conversations with them. The result, like so much of Mayer’s work, is as rich in intelligence, emotion, and humor as it is nonchalant in presenting them. The book’s closing poem on the town—“the former farm of a guy named / van der heyden who was mightily pissed it wasn’t called van der heyden”—is as charmingly clever as you would expect from a poet who can begin and end a line with “van der heyden.”

In all, five of the first dozen books in the series fall, in one way or another, into the project of documentary poetics. Forrest Gander’s Eiko & Koma (#8) consists of poems inspired by these masters of modern performance. Most of the poems take their titles from specific dance pieces and describe their movements so viscerally—“articulate (fanfingered) / imploring / first figures / spent and mutual with a world / two bodies / releasing the event”—that Anna Lee Campbell’s accompanying photographs, while beautiful and welcome, are almost superfluous. And poised somewhere between documentary and nature lyric is Pneumatic Antiphonal (#4), by Sylvia Legris, though the poet’s intensely alliterative wordplay makes this sequence on the particulars of bird anatomy a surprising ride. If Kool Keith were to cut an album on ornithology, it might sound something like “Lore: 6 (pluvial),” quoted here in full:

Spish the song into sight. Sonogram a vertebration of short tripping trills. Bobolinks. Wide-ranging pitches. Tallgrass, highnote, swish-hitters.

Wishful singing. Pleurally plural. With the syrinx located at or near the junction of the trachea and lungs some birds can produce two distinct notes simultaneously.

Sturnella neglecta (“little starling”). Tin whistle dipped in liquid. Wistful. Fluty flying who-who are you?

Meadowlark nebulization. Flaring nares. Between maxilla and eye a goldenrod-tipped mist. Pluvially orchestral. Sparrowful.

ND-ForrestGanderLaughlin had promised that “in the type of material variety will be stressed,” a promise that would have been fulfilled even without “one narrative poem,” yet the editors have furnished us with one anyway and, in so doing, have also managed a celebration of “some great poet of the past”: H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), with her 1957 sequence Vale Ave (#7). An archival piece published in its entirely but once before (in a small edition in 1992, over thirty years after the poet’s death), the book is a revelation. The title, which transforms the Latin for “farewell” and “hail” into a more concrete and locational form of address, perfectly captures the text’s clever erasure of the simple distinctions we use to define ourselves, whether according to gender (male/female), time (“anger had drawn me back and out of time, / but now, I see in-time and passionately”), or narrative situation (“I mix my metaphors and history, my friend”). Androgyny was a lifelong fascination of Doolittle’s. In Vale Ave, it is both central and revealed as curiously incidental. In following two lovers as they reencounter each other across space, time, and myth, we come to see their mutual attraction as the only stable feature of their existence. This is a wonderful opportunity to revisit a poet whose relevance and capacity for surprise have proven exceptionally durable.

The Poetry Pamphlets also deliver on Laughlin’s plan to publish “something in the classics in translation, and a pamphlet of translations from a modern foreign language poet,” though they go considerably further: four of the first twelve volumes are translations, two each from Spanish and Arabic. None is from “the classics” per se, but that will be remedied in the next bundle with new translations of the Tang poet Li Shangyin. There is a certain continuity in this emphasis on foreign poets—Pamphlets #14 through #16 will all be in translation, and The Albertine Figures (#13) is by Anne Carson, who likes to remind us that she’s Canadian—in that New Directions has rightfully prided itself on introducing other Modernisms into English for over half a century, and they do it extremely well.

ND-15iraqipoetsAll four of the foreign volumes afford their pleasures. In Fifteen Iraqi Poets (#12), Dunya Mikhail proves herself as sensitive and eclectic an anthologist as she is a poet. Each poet gets just one poem and a generous critical note, but the ambition here was clearly not to offer a comprehensive survey of Iraqi poetry. Instead, we get something more like a delicious tasting menu—Laughlin’s “banquet of poetry”—with each poem differing from the next in tone and method. Each reader is likely to have a favorite dish. “Dinner,” by Yousif Al-Sa’igh, is one of mine (the translation is by Saadi Simawe):

Every evening when I come home
my sadness comes out of his room
wearing his winter overcoat
and follows me.
I walk, he walks with me
I sit, he sits next to me
I cry, he cries for me
until midnight
and we are tired.
That is when I see
my sadness enter the kitchen
open the refrigerator door
take out a piece of black meat
and prepare my dinner.

Crossing Iraq’s northwest border, Fullblood Arabian (#10), by the Syrian poet Osama Alomar and translated with C.J. Collins, consists of brief, mostly fabular prose texts. Lydia Davis’s superb, unsurprisingly compact Preface orients Alomar’s work in the global tradition of the “very short story,” flash fiction, prose poem, or whatever it is we’re calling it these days. Alomar tends toward the parable, and some of his most interesting turns of phrase arise when, jolted back into waking life, he still speaks of it allegorically, “drunk with exhaustion and sleepiness, our laughter still ringing against the pavement of reality.” But these texts work best in small doses. The stiffly formal prose—a deliberate stylistic choice on the part of the poet and translator, and not always a felicitous one—casts a barrage of adverbial phrases. Even these characters’ actions are accented. They seem incapable of doing much of anything unless it’s “with enthusiasm,” “with delight,” “with joy,” or “with total sincerity,” which is as exhausting in imaginary people as it is in real ones.

ND-GirondoAre the editors intentionally publishing translations in regional pairs? If the poems from Iraq and Syria suggest the possibility, Alejandra Pizarnik’s A Musical Hell (#6) and Oliverio Girondo’s Poems to Be Read on a Streetcar (#11) would seem to affirm it. Consistently satisfying, both in the high quality of their translations and in the arrangement of the material, these books by Argentine Modernists put us in familiar publishing territory, New Directions having long been a home for Julio Cortázar and Jorge Luis Borges, among others. They also leave us crossing our fingers that this is a prelude of more to come.

Girondo and Pizarnik share an avant-gardist predilection toward dramatic self-presentation and outlandish metaphors, but they use them to opposite ends. Pizarnik, who took her own life in 1972 at the age of thirty-six, is a hard melancholic whose luxuriously lyrical prose poems can be painful, a credit to Yvette Siegert’s vigorous rendering of the Spanish. “I’m familiar with the full range of fear,” Pizarnik tells us in “Primitive Eyes.” “I know what it’s like to start singing and to set off slowly through the narrow mountain pass that leads back to the foreigner in me, to my own expatriate.” A poet who draws virtuosic variety from limited materials—“Music falls into music the way my voice falls into my voices”—Pizarnik is one of the highlights of the Poetry Pamphlets’ first year.

The same goes for Girondo, if for other reasons: he’s a riot. An older contemporary of Borges, Girondo is at once obsessed with discovering surprise in the quotidian and convinced of the absurdity of such an enterprise, as he suggests in a 1922 letter included here as the Preface: “I’m a little embarrassed to think that maybe I do have faith in our vernacular, and that maybe our vernacular might be so rude as to always be right . . . I end up thinking about our country, with its hotel-room neutrality, and I’m a little embarrassed to confirm how hard it is to become attached to a hotel room.” Girondo’s poems often straddle the line between humor and menace, like an offhand comment that might just as easily be a threat, a balance that Heather Cleary has translated with admirable grace. The twenty-first section of Scarecrow (Within Reach of All) should rank among the very best poems of malediction:

May your wife cheat on you constantly, even with mailboxes; when she lies down beside you, may she turn into a leech; and—after birthing a raven—may she bear you a wrench.
May your family entertain itself by so disfiguring your skeleton that when mirrors see you they kill themselves in disgust; may your only amusement be installing yourself in the waiting rooms of dentists dressed as a crocodile; and may you fall so madly in love with a safe-deposit box that you cannot, even for an instant, resist licking its latch.

For Girondo, there are countless ways of celebrating, interrogating, or even touching nothingness, as the poet notes in his last book, In the Moremarrow, which Action Books has recently issued in Molly Weigel’s translation. Here is Cleary’s version of the closing lines from “Tropes”:

what if not unhinged by touch
what reflections
what depths
what witchy elements
what keys
what midnight materials
what latches frozen shut
what naught I touch
in all

Girondo is not the only poet featured in the Poetry Pamphlets who likes to meditate on nothingness. Lawrence Ferlinghetti takes his own stab in “A Casino Culture,” from Blasts Cries Laughter (#9):

A casino culture out of control
A hole in its ozone soul
A sweepstakes Winner Take All
A shooting gallery for masters of war
A bull market with toreadors
A runaway juggernaut heading for naught
A runway robot bombing through cities
The hydraulic brakes blown
And no one can slow it down
Not even the UN not even the EU
Not even the Pope or you name it

The contrast is shocking. Whereas Girondo can be elegant as well as intriguing, incisive as well as inquisitive, Ferlinghetti’s lines, equally reliant on anaphora, sound stoned. His preferred form has always been the rant, and to say that it suits his Beat sensibility would diminish the central role he played in inventing that sensibility in the first place. But a good rant features sharp wordplay and, above all, flow. It performs persuasion rhythmically—thus its ancient kinship with the hymn and the litany—so that the reader often has no time to get caught on the puns and rhymes, the best of which are on a delayed timer. Not so here. When the poet mentions the Wright Brothers at the beginning of “History of the Airplane,” you could see a reference to the “wrong brothers” coming a mile away, though you only have to wait one line to get there. Ferlinghetti’s is the one entry in the first year of the Poetry Pamphlets that I could have happily done without; Blasts Cries Laughter seems to come from, and to be stuck in, a different time.

ND-TarnNathaniel Tarn’s The Beautiful Contradictions (#5), a book-length sequence first published in 1969, is also, by his own admission, from another time, “a poem of the very late Sixties—written from an old world shore, in fact, from the Black Mountains of Wales.” Though a younger poem than Doolittle’s, written by a much younger person than she was when she wrote Vale Ave, The Beautiful Contradictions seems much less contemporary. It displays the strong influences of Ezra Pound and Charles Olson, whose deep Americanism guided Tarn as he was beginning his career in the New World, and like the poems of Pound and Olson The Beautiful Contradictions is dense with moments of intellectual insight and lyric dazzle that are but rarely coincident. The instances when they do pull simultaneously into the same station—“because it is a myth you know that desire dissolves all obstacles / while feeding and singing keep our figures redundant”—are padded with so much meandering verbiage that you start to wonder whether the poet is deliberately trying to wear you down, testing to see if you are worthy of initiation into mysteries constantly deferred until the next page. Again, Pound and Olson come to mind. You really have to be in the mood.

Which brings us to the only real disappointment of the Poetry Pamphlets as a whole. In its first year alone, the Poet of the Month included second books by Malcolm Cowley, Delmore Schwartz, and Josephine Miles, the first American edition from the English poet F.T. Prince, and the first book by Harry Brown, who had a successful run as a poet in the 1940s before becoming an Oscar-winning screenwriter. A chapbook series is a risky operation, editorially as well as financially, and Laughlin had intended to spend a large part of that risk on “young discoveries.” Today’s equivalent might be “poets without an entry on Wikipedia,” and it would have been nice to see one of those in this batch. New Directions is not obliged to follow the directions of its late founder, and much of their long-term success can be attributed to successive editors striking out on new directions of their own. But the Poetry Pamphlets have a bright future. Let’s hope it will also be an unpredictable one.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Summer 2014 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2014

Where the River Goes

where_the_river_goes_largeThe Nature Tradition in English-Language Haiku
edited by Allan Burns
Snapshot Press ($45)

by Peter McDonald

Casual readers and practitioners in English-language haiku often assume this brief poetic form, imported to the West from Japan at the turn of the 19th century, is indelibly associated with elegiac snapshots of nature in three-line poems of 5-7-5 syllables. They might also have heard of the great master haikuist Matsuo Bashō, who elevated haiku to an art form in the 17th century. It was Bashō who stressed quiet attention to the immediacy of an image taken from seasonal nature, where the “haiku moment” must be spontaneous, shorn of adornment or simile, with no intrusion of the authorial ego.

Today, of course, in its burgeoning western tradition, haiku has evolved into multiple creative strains, far removed from the lockstep syllable count of its early years and often with only an incidental focus on nature. Indeed, ascendant everywhere—even in Japan—is the senryu form of haiku, where the pratfalls and pangs of humanity form the poetic nucleus. Nature in most senryu is given second billing at best.

In his magnificent new compendium Where the River Goes: The Nature Tradition in English-Language Haiku, editor Allan Burns calls the reader back to haiku’s roots in paeans to the natural world. Readers opening this book will be blessed to step into quietude, inoculated, if only briefly, from the clamor of smartphones and multi-tasking.

the snowy meadow:
a wind-blown feather follows
the tracks of the fox
—Nick Virgilio

This work is an in-depth collection of nature haiku unlike any in the long line of western anthologies dating back to Cor van den Heuvel’s groundbreaking The Haiku Anthology (1974). Van den Heuval set a standard of giving many poets just a poem or two, thereby evenly covering the waterfront of illustrious practitioners. With the refreshing eye of a curator, Burns has chosen an opposite tack, giving fewer poets greater space to reveal more deeply the individual strengths of their craftwork. This survey is thus remarkable in that it gives the reader a chance to peruse each entrant’s work in a manner more like a meditation, as if embarking on a reflective amble through the seasons, where each of the forty poets presented is engaged as guide and companion along the way.

Beside the waterfall . . .
opening with all its blue
the bellflower
—vincent tripi

Burns’ fine introduction, at sixty enlightening pages, along with his postscript notes, references, and index, form that rare exegesis that melds scholarship, environmental issues, Zen practice, and the wider world of lyric poetry with a concise history of haiku’s traditions, placing this short-form poetry forefront in the larger context of western nature writing from Thoreau to Aldo Leopold to contemporary journalists investigating the degradation of whole ecosystems under the threat of climate change. More effective still, and with the same revelatory insights, Burns opens each poet’s section with a luminous mini-essay that expertly interweaves a concise biography of the poet with comments on their unique style, highlighting inventive attributes of their respective work. For any lay reader, or even for a haiku connoisseur, this quiet landmark of a book offers a perfect grounding in the essentials of the haiku moment.

Rain Taxi Online Edition Summer 2014 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2014

The Story of a New Name

storyofnewnameElena Ferrante
Translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein
Europa Editions ($18)

by John Toren

The Story of a New Name is a whirlwind account of friendship, rivalry, and waning interdependency between two women—Lila and Lenú—who have grown up together in a lower-class neighborhood of post-war Naples. We see events largely through the eyes of Lenú, who admires and measures herself against the more attractive, outgoing, and impulsive Lila, but in the book’s first few pages we learn that Lila has given Lenú a box of journals, demanding that no one was to read them and making Lenú swear she herself won’t open the box “for any reason.” Of course, Lenú has hardly sat down on the bus before opening the heavy box, and the insights she gleans from these often random scribblings allow her to paint a more complete picture of Lila’s inner life during the period she goes on to describe in great detail.

Author Elena Ferrante chronicled the shared childhood of these girls in My Brilliant Friend (Europa Editions, 2012), and she wastes little time here moving the story along. The early part of the book deals with Lila’s impulsive marriage, at the age of sixteen, to Stefano, the son of a grocery-store owner who’s invested heavily in her own family’s small shoe-making business. Two incidents set the tone of this new phase in Lila’s life: At her wedding reception, Marcello, a member of the powerful but arrogant and widely feared Solara family, shows up wearing a pair of shoes Lila had designed herself and given to Stefano as a love token, and Lila throws a fit. Stefano later explains that Lila’s own brother, Rino Cerullo, had also been party to the gift, which was intended to bolster a “collaboration” between the Solara and Cerullo families. This tension between personal affections and family business interests keeps the plot simmering throughout the book.

Later that evening, Stefano resorts to violence in the course of consummating the union, and Lila suddenly realizes that she’s married to a brutal stranger. Yet when she returns to the neighborhood from her honeymoon, blackened and bruised, the general attitude seems to be that someone has finally put Lila in her place. Still, Lila has a suddenly loftier position in the local social hierarchy, with a new house and car, nice clothes, and an influential role in running the grocery store, and this estranges her from Lenú, who’s still going to school and is dismayed by her friend’s increasingly outlandish swagger and focus on material things. Meanwhile, Lenú pines for the brilliant and studious Nino, another figure from the neighborhood, who unfortunately happens to be dating Nadia, the daughter of Professor Giuliana, whom Lenú esteems highly.

Ferrante’s description of these and other tangled interrelations between individuals and families carries the flavor of intense adolescent emotion. It’s an appealing tone in small doses, but readers may begin to wonder whether the narrator’s inability to distinguish clearly between important developments and petty exchanges is shared by the author herself. The novel gains in narrative focus, however, when Lila hires Lenú to accompany her on a seaside vacation with her mother and her sister-in-law Pinuccia. (An Index of Characters in the front of the book will be greatly appreciated by those who have not read My Brilliant Friend.) Lenú agrees to come, only after deviously convincing Lila to change her vacation to a locale where Nino is spending the summer. All summer long, she and Lila meet up with Nino and his rich friend Bruno daily on the beach during the week, though on weekends Stefano (Lila’s husband) and Pinuccia’s fiancé Rino (who is Lila’s brother, as you may recall) arrive to have some fun.

Alas, Lenú, always the sensible, prudent one, is the last to figure out that Nino, though still dating Nadia, is actually in love with the now-married Lila—just like everyone else. It occurs to her at roughly the same time that perhaps she has spent her life on the sidelines watching Lila and others grab for one brass ring after another because she never shares her true feelings with anyone. Digging a little deeper, she muses: “Did I keep my feelings muted because I was frightened by the violence with which, in fact, in my innermost self, I wanted things, people, praise, triumphs?” She begins to wonder whether her desire to rise above her condition, to speak Italian well—rather than the coarse Neapolitan dialect used in her neighborhood—has driven her to avoid exposing herself honestly in any way, for fear of making a mistake.

Even her unrequited affection for Nino seems to be based largely on admiration of his lofty ideas and intellectual prowess. She enjoys listening to him talk, though she often has no idea what he’s talking about. Decentralization? Economic planning on a regional basis? Africa? The Social Democrats?

     We went on like that for at least an hour. Isolated from the shouting around us, its coarse dialect, we felt exclusive, he and I alone, with our vigilant Italian, with those conversations that mattered to us and no one else. What were we doing? A discussion? Practicing for future confrontations with people who had learned to use words as we had? An exchange of signals to prove to ourselves that such words were the basis of a long and fruitful friendship? A cultivated screen for sexual desire? I don’t know. I certainly had no particular passion for those subjects, for the real things and people they referred to. I had no training, no habit, only the usual desire not to make a bad showing. It was wonderful, though—that is certain.

Some readers may reach the end of this longish book wishing the narrator had spent more time exploring the political and academic controversies of post-war Italy, and less on the often squalid rivalries, infidelities, threats of violence, and general bad blood stewing in her old neighborhood, which sometimes call to mind low-budget Neorealist films of the era. Lenú feels nowhere so at home as in the parlor of Profession Giuliani, yet she can’t shake the conviction that there is more vitality to be found on the streets of Naples than in verbose political controversies or the acutely circumscribed subject matter that academics find so fascinating.

It’s difficult to hold a story together in which we get to know the central character largely through the eyes of a less flamboyant admirer. Eventually we may weary of Lenú’s incessant self-depreciation, and wonder when she’ll finally accept the fact that others try to convince her of from time to time: you’re smarter than Lila, you’re prettier than Lila. In the end, Lenú’s gifts of observation and general decency compensate for occasional tiresome patches in the storytelling. At one point, for example, as she watches Lila and Nino flirting shamelessly on the beach, she notes that Nino is friendlier than she’d ever see him before. “I thought: the fact that Lila is married isn’t an obstacle for him or for her, and that observation seemed to me so odiously true that it turned my stomach, and I brought a hand to my mouth.”

Lila’s character is less easy to admire. She’s generous and spiteful by turns, stricken by an impetuous desire to experience life that drives her to arrange things so that they suit her best, confident that she can handle whatever consequences may ensue. By the end of The Story of a New Name, that confidence has been shaken, though the last two words in the book will leave most readers eager to follow the story of Lena and Lenú to its conclusion in volume three, forthcoming soon in English translation.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Summer 2014 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2014

In the House Un-American

inthehouseBenjamin Hollander
Clockroot Books ($15)

by Michael Wendt

Early in Benjamin Hollander’s In the House Un-American, the question is posed: “if everyone is truly welcome [in the United States], why does there exist, in phrase and condition, the un-American?” Throughout the course of the rest of the book we follow Carlos ben Carlos Rossman, a Puerto-Rican Jew with roots in the Middle East, through a protean Bildungsroman that unfolds, by turns, through direct narration, philosophical meditation, brief letters, and transcripts from the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings. Rossman and the characters he encounters take it upon themselves to examine the American narrative that prizes both difference and inclusivity in name while never truly embracing either in substance.

Part and parcel of this exploration is the supreme lack of difference characterizing American language use. Rossman is said to recall that he expected the vocabulary of Americans “like the people to move, to change and expand as it moved, but it only diminished.” And so, by contrast, language that moves, changes, and expands becomes cast as un-American. The fundamental irony, then, is that un-American literature holds the potential to realize the pluralistic promise central to the American fable, as well as the poetic “field of action,” articulated by Rossman’s namesake William Carlos Williams, in which categories of prosody and literary structure are never fixed or discrete.

In the House Un-American situates itself within a body of literature—one inhabited by Williams, Kafka, and Melville, among others alluded to in the book—that is charged with the representation of narrativized thought unfolding. Special attention is paid to exploring the “truths” of the American mythos: “self-evident and, as such, beyond reason and divinely informed,” these “truths” are measured against a constellated set of narratives circumscribing the myriad national, religious, and ethnic identities of the book’s characters. And it turns out that these narratives aren’t so different; that “one country could become fabled depending on how it used the facts of another;” that “the Heart of Islam is American.

But that last statement may be a bit too declarative to be representative of Hollander’s ambulatory and philosophically charged prose, which continuously expands and moves per Rossman’s expectations. As such, Hollander’s writing seems decidedly “un-American,” like the writing of an “un-person” set to “take its revenge and flow through the [world of American letters] like flood-water”—or, to borrow from William Carlos Williams, Hollander’s writing exists in a “field of purposive action” constantly seeking “new means for expanded possibilities in literary expression.” However one chooses to articulate the experiments Hollander undertakes, what remains clear is that such experimentation, in Hollander’s hands, never removes the ideas from an immediate relationship with the world.

And therein lies the import of the formal ingenuity of In the House Un-American: it is experimentation in the service of a deeper conversation with the world, an unmooring of language from ideology and idolatry. In being un-American, Hollander’s writing seeks an English that is “accented or a bit cracked in its fluency . . . to not only discover ‘the wound in every word in the effort to democratize language,’ but to uncover the world in the wound exposed.”

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Summer 2014 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2014

What Happened Here

whathappenedhereBonnie ZoBell
Press 53 ($17.95)

by Matt Pincus

A follow up to her fine chapbook The Whack-Job Girls (Monkey Puzzle, 2013), Bonnie ZoBell’s What Happened Here centers around a thirtieth anniversary party for a 1978 plane crash in a San Diego neighborhood, a real-world event that killed 137 people on board the aircraft and seven others in residences. Each story in the collection attempts to portray a different individual in the neighborhood, giving life to the community and their conflicts as a whole.

The visceral impact of ZoBell’s previous work has fallen to sentimentality in places here. The title novella, about Lenora and her husband John, recounts the latter’s struggle with mental illness, but ends with the couple spreading sage around their backyard to ward off demons and ghosts from the plane crash—a cheap trick for a narrative so invested in deeper issues. In “The Black Sea,” Alexa and Eduardo’s deteriorating marriage is reinvigorated through an encounter on a dirt road with dogs that have had the blood sucked from their carcasses. Rather than delving into the complexities of their relationship, ZoBell relies on the myth of the chupacabra to bring the couple together again: “Eventually, nestled far underneath the covers, listening to the lapping waves, they held each other, slept on and off, fitfully in the heat.”

Although there are a number of shortfalls such as these, two standout stories are “This Time of Night” and “Rocks.” The former recounts Annie and Willy buying a trailer to go camping together, but their vacation to a historic California beach near a nuclear power plant turns into a disaster. Willy’s anger grows in spite of Annie’s optimism, all shadowed by his fight with AIDS and his probable death within three years. The malady acts as a fitting anchor for sentimentality, much better than mentions of a mythical creature or ritual.

“Rocks” does something similar with Lolly, a tour guide in Sedona, Arizona who ran away from her physically abusive husband Roy. The setting seems to reflect Lolly’s desire for anonymity and fear of her husband: “Giant rock formations inflame the town, russet pebbles live naturally by the side of the road, maroon homes made of adobe seem carved out of the pinnacles instead of built new.” Here, spiritual ritual and sentimentality meet in a visceral moment and sentences breathe out the violent yet beautiful nature of human relationships.

What Happened Here attempts to create portraits of people living in the aftermath of a deadly plane crash. ZoBell attempts something Faulkner did so brilliantly in his portraits of men and woman from the south. If it doesn’t always succeed, the text at least shows how difficult it is to write excellent short fiction—and what’s at stake in trying to do so.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Summer 2014 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2014

All Movies Love the Moon

allmovieslovethemoon Prose Poems on Silent Film
Gregory Robinson
Rose Metal Press ($14.95)

by Jay Besemer

In September 2013, the Library of Congress published a report by film scholar David Pierce entitled The Survival of American Silent Feature Films 1912-1929. This report (available as a PDF online) details the startling and dismaying loss of over 7,600 original silent features through medium decay, fire, breakage and actual misplacement. Those lost films comprise the majority of the silent features produced in the United States, which means that only a very few complete silent films are now accessible to U.S. scholars, filmmakers, fans, and the general public. Those who love silent film, or want to love it, have to find our own ways to meet it. Sometimes, meetings of that sort occur in unexpected venues.

Keep this in mind as you enter the darkened theater of Gregory Robinson’s All Movies Love the Moon. This astonishing square-format collection of prose poems and images goes far beyond imitation or simple ekphrastic reconstitution. Somehow, Robinson manages to craft a film-festival in poem form. It’s not just that the poems are strongly visual, though that’s certainly true. Here’s a vibrant example, “TESS OF THE STORM COUNTRY (1922)” in its entirety:

Invisible oceans of warm and cold air collide, turning cobalt and blocking the sun. Tess raises her arms—what comes next lets us live.

Elias loves Orn because Orn is poor and Elias needs poor people to clarify what he is not. Elias’ language of love is shaking fists and harrumphing until his monocle falls loose and he is forced to retrieve it.

Orn loves Elias too, though he would never admit it. Elias is confusing and distant, right on the edge of actually living. Orn pities him, but when Elias comes to visit, Orn always has a shotgun in hand.

Tess raises her arms. She is a cloud, born to shelter, hold, and break apart, to stand impossibly between these two foes. She sees the secret between them, their deep mutual affection, and knows it is how the world works, that no enmities are forgotten in another’s need, just redirected, sent upwards, crashing into the cold air and sending down the rain.

The tension between narrative and image is strong in a poem like this, and it’s easy to imagine the same tension in early silent film. Of course, not all films need to be narrative-driven, and narrative poetry is certainly not the only type of poem to be made. Prose poetry seems the perfect form in which to explore the problem of narrative in poetics, as well as the problem of narrative in cinema.

Like the other poems, “TESS” takes its title from that of an actual silent film, and the poems appear in “chronological” order according to the release date of the film each is named for. This kind of organization helps us glean an unofficial, poetic history of the silent film genre. There’s also a careful, quirkily informative introduction, but readers should not expect a straight history lesson or film studies seminar. After all, it’s a book of “prose poems on silent film.“ That ambiguous “on” invites us to make an imaginative leap; although we are reading poems on a page, these verbal works might conceivably be made on film, literally. Even the supple semi-gloss paper on which the book is printed offers a tactile analogy to film. These media/genre blurs resonate nicely from the book’s conceptual core through its content to its realization as an object.

On the facing page of each poem is a figure reproducing or derived from “screen shots” of one of the movie’s title cards. These cards combine text and graphic, or text and film image, to clarify or narrate more or less what’s happening onscreen. Robinson’s funny, ironic, informative captions illuminate or complicate these verbal images, effectively providing title cards for the title cards presented. If “title cards were silent film’s Statler and Waldorf,” as we are told in the introduction, Robinson plays a great Fozzie Bear, commenting on the commentary.

Title cards, readers soon learn, were an art form unto themselves. As early 20th-century cross-genre visual poetry their value is clear, and much could still be written about their influence on poet-artists who came to use similar media—for example, Czech Surrealists Jindrich Heisler and Toyen, whose collaborative collaged photo-poems look quite a bit like title cards. The connection between the poetry on the screen and the poetry on Robinson’s pages becomes delightfully evident as the book progresses.

Title cards (and their authors) finally emerge as the secret heroes of All Movies Love the Moon. The author’s affectionate admiration for some of the best title artists—whom he names for us—feels right for a book filled with wistfulness and fierceness. Here’s one of Robinson’s title card captions, which themselves comprise a sort of stealth prose poem form:

FIGURE 29: Once I drove six hours to dig around a cemetery to find [title artist] Ralph Spence’s grave, crossing state and vastly darker lines.

It’s the perfect teaser. What lines? What states? Six hours in a vehicle, on an obsessive quest for a gravesite, sounds like the perfect silent film plot. Ultimately, All Movies Love the Moon works on both poetic and cinematic levels. The contagious delight of discovery, catalyzed by these poems, may well inspire a new level of interest in silent film (at least among readers of poetry). All Movies Love the Moon gives a new and unexpected meeting-place for readers and film fans to get acquainted with the form. It’s a different way to preserve a cultural treasure, but a highly effective one.

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Purchase this book at your local independent bookstore.
Rain Taxi Online Edition Summer 2014 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2014