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tearing the rag off the bush again
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Robert Walser, The Assistant, translated from German by Susan Bernofsky, New York: New Directions, www.ndpublishing.com. This is the first novel of the amazing schizophrenic genius praised by Kafka, Musil, and Walter Benjamin. Musil wasn’t yet diagnosed when he wrote this lovely coming-of-age tale on a dare from his brother. In the mental asylum where he spent most of his life, Walser wrote hundreds of dense pages of prose in a style of tiny script he called “microwriting.” Not all have been deciphered to date, but those that have been, are stupendous.

Kenneth Warren, Rock/ The Boat, Book One, Oasis Press, c/o Stephen Ellis, PO Box 441, Sweileh 1190, Amman, Jordan. Poetry, what is it? All of the above, meaning structurally sound, existentially valid, hitting en passant the poetry we have called lyric since Villon, and an informed critique of the world seen through all the the things we just said poetry does. This is Kenneth Warren's work, terse like Creeley, loose like early rock'n roll, and severe like a cult. For instance: "The fisherman's daughter,/tied to the dock, must pray/for night to delay in/the wreck of the nameless/little red boat under the pale/blue sea, so as to teach/seventy three men how/it feels in the end/to cut the rope." And so the figurehead mermaid passes from flesh into a Pisarro canvas and out into the heart of men she teaches to die or float free. There are many works more precise and more mythical here, but here is a poet who has a place all his own under the sweeping radar that now gathers the professionals and milks them. Warren is an uber-expert at being under radar: his journal, House Organ, is the best poetry magazine in the US, bar none. His poetry turns out to be worthy of his journal.

    Lyriflex: Having said the above, I returned to the latest issue of HO wherein my Sheherezade book is seen with Ken's depth-charge x-rays, and noted that his review had been reposted at codrescu.com and on Princeton Univ Press Facebook page of "whatever gets you through the night: a story of sheherezade...", and how curious I found it that Romanians produce bushels of critics without subjects even as we overproduce uncritical objects, which makes for two worlds: a crowded intellectual cafe where bright minds pass back and forth a ripe pear, and a vast countryside patrolled by a few horseback overseers making sure the fruit isn't bruised. Ok, the Fourrier reference is because of what follows. Attention is attention, and poets, especially, given the choice of critical or medical attention, in their youth will take the former, in their old age the latter. They are the same, though, so it matters not in the end.

To which Ken wrote back:
Welcome home! From your foggy-top Ozark home, you are seeing American
poetry for what it is. And with Google Earth, the nose knows nobody
can remain hidden in the patchouli patch of transferential relations
any longer. Hence Eros, Psyche, the sacred posse-with its Tantric
influx from the sacrum up and over the brainy top- are all lost
ingredients to the secret sauce of context now weakly conceptualized
as “Here Comes Everybody.” Perhaps with a Romney presidency the trick
of a Romany magic kiss - still shared, you say, by altruistic poets in
your native land - will finally spill from the Angel Moroni and rouse
the American legion of slacker poets to unearth some critical ducats
and, maybe even, stomp some juice from the vine of indestructible life
presently under Titanic lock and key.
Enjoy the theme song:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6c0-Dk094Q

Best wishes, Ken


and only then did it occur to that his publisher's www site was indeed apropos, but I still haven't checked. The youtube is as flexible as everything we said.

Michael Waters
, Gospel Night, Boa Editions, 2011. Michael Waters is in love with classical beauty, and will stop at nothing to find it and bring it within (or atop) his lyrical stead (or steed). Exotic locales like Tamarindo, Costa Rica, the Sanctuary Basilica in Malta, and even Helpston, Northamptonshire, residence of young John Clare, surrender their intimate views to his poetry. His verse often bathes in the starlight of fellow poets from all ages, but his profoundest sympathy is for the rare actual moment when ""Endearments spring hothouse dorm afternoons." A glowing golden horniness emanates from this book's hungry heart.


Terri Witek, The Shipwreck Dress, Orchises Press, PO Box 320533, Alexandria, Virginia 2230. An origami-like book of verse based on a kimono. Sample: Summer Kimono (Floating Warp Pattern Gauze): ... note how the horizon/ you've often taunted/ ripples here from its front stoop/ to cool your feet, tourquoise green/ skin by skin by skin./ and next to the last line on the left hand of the page, the words no Chemise. The light formal play of breeze-blown folded kimonos does not hide the real body of the poet within.
 
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