Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Charles Reznikoff

Via Ron Silliman, an excellent review by jane dark’s alter ego Joshua Clover of a new book collecting Charles Reznikoff’s shorter poems. Reznikoff was born in the 1890s in New York. He’s long been a fave of mine. For many years his republished books have been edited by a man I knew between the ages of 4 and 10, when my family lived 2 doors from him, an English professor at Western Michigan University (at least he was back then) named Seamus Cooney. I don’t remember him much but remember his kids. His daughter was my age and his 2 sons were older. We played together. I first saw a Beatles record at their house, and the long hair and beards on the cover of “Let It Be” frightened me. Mrs. Cooney was a ceramicist and made beautiful cups. Mr. Cooney didnt hip me to Reznikoff’s poetry, and it was a nice surprise years later to find his name associated with these marvelous poems. Here’s a favorite Reznikoff poem in its entirety.
Here beggar, three pennies--
your fare to serenity;
abstinence, reticence, diligence--
hunger, silence, and sweat.

The hard stoicism and compassionate bitter irony of stating the case as it is; and also the case as it is euphemized and the case of what that euphemism masks; social relations in 15 words -- and the critique of the role of Latinisms in our language v. Anglo-Saxonisms -- amazing poem.

I had the biggest crush on Tamar Cooney when I was in the 5th and 6th grade.

Good Cherrt Street memories.


Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?