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Doug Holder

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Books by Doug Holder

Bilingual Poems by Richard Kostelanetz
by Doug Holder   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Monday, May 12, 2008
Posted: Monday, May 12, 2008

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Poems from Cervena Barva Press

*Bilingual Poems, *by Richard Kostelanetz. Cervena Barva Press, $7.

 

Review by Julia Carlson



As a reader of poetry, I like to steep myself in a brew of William Carlos
Williams, Philip Levine, Charles Bukowski, and Dickenson, among others. I like tradition. I read French poets Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Samuel Beckett, and Paul Eluard in French. e.e. cummings is about as experimental as I get (although one could argue that Dickenson was very experimental for her time). So, I am perhaps not the best person to tackle Kostelanetz' recent chapbook, *Bilingual Poems.*

Kostelanetz' idea is simple - to juxtapose English words with French or
German equivalents [not the most inventive idea I've heard of – I do believeDr. Johnson came up with it first]. Kostelanetz says his goal, vis-à-vispoetry, is invention. That works for me as long as I can have an emotional connection to the work. I did not have that experience. But I did have anexperience. In fact I quickly became very irritated with trying to "read" the poems. I got a headache that only went away with a good slug ofsingle-malt scotch. Once the alcohol set in I thought maybe the whole
chapbook could be viewed as one big poem… but how to say it? I made quite a spectacle of myself, standing in my living room, large glass filled to the brim, saying the words out loud, even the German ones I couldn't pronounce.It was an entirely satisfying essaie and none of my neighbors complained,even when I was intoning CHIAPPEBuTTOCKs in my loudest reading voice (I was trying to imitate Walter Howard, whose deep voice is like vibratingvelvet - if such a thing exists - but I just couldn't do him justice, no matter how hard I tried). Perhaps the neighbors were wondering what in heckthose CHIAPPEBuTTOCKs were, and would it be worth their while to knock on my
door and find out. Well, there was no knock on my door. They probably
decided I was some kind of nouvelle performance artiste.

Not being fluent in German I can't judge if the German translations are
correct, but I am fluent in French and can say that extrement is not English for French merde – perhaps Kostelanetz meant excrement? Even thespell-check in Word said excrement. What more do you want? At any rate,publisher Gloria Mindock gets kudos for this zany chapbook. Not every publisher is a visionary. Because this little tome will shake up your idea of what a poem is or could be. Food for thought – or shall I say, drink?



Julia Carlson/Ibbetson Update*Bilingual Poems, *by Richard Kostelanetz. Cervena Barva Press, $7.

 

Review by Julia Carlson



As a reader of poetry, I like to steep myself in a brew of William Carlos
Williams, Philip Levine, Charles Bukowski, and Dickenson, among others. I like tradition. I read French poets Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Samuel Beckett, and Paul Eluard in French. e.e. cummings is about as experimental as I get (although one could argue that Dickenson was very experimental for her time). So, I am perhaps not the best person to tackle Kostelanetz' recent chapbook, *Bilingual Poems.*

Kostelanetz' idea is simple - to juxtapose English words with French or
German equivalents [not the most inventive idea I've heard of – I do believeDr. Johnson came up with it first]. Kostelanetz says his goal, vis-à-vispoetry, is invention. That works for me as long as I can have an emotional connection to the work. I did not have that experience. But I did have anexperience. In fact I quickly became very irritated with trying to "read" the poems. I got a headache that only went away with a good slug ofsingle-malt scotch. Once the alcohol set in I thought maybe the whole
chapbook could be viewed as one big poem… but how to say it? I made quite a spectacle of myself, standing in my living room, large glass filled to the brim, saying the words out loud, even the German ones I couldn't pronounce.It was an entirely satisfying essaie and none of my neighbors complained,even when I was intoning CHIAPPEBuTTOCKs in my loudest reading voice (I was trying to imitate Walter Howard, whose deep voice is like vibratingvelvet - if such a thing exists - but I just couldn't do him justice, no matter how hard I tried). Perhaps the neighbors were wondering what in heckthose CHIAPPEBuTTOCKs were, and would it be worth their while to knock on my
door and find out. Well, there was no knock on my door. They probably
decided I was some kind of nouvelle performance artiste.

Not being fluent in German I can't judge if the German translations are
correct, but I am fluent in French and can say that extrement is not English for French merde – perhaps Kostelanetz meant excrement? Even thespell-check in Word said excrement. What more do you want? At any rate,publisher Gloria Mindock gets kudos for this zany chapbook. Not every publisher is a visionary. Because this little tome will shake up your idea of what a poem is or could be. Food for thought – or shall I say, drink?



Julia Carlson/Ibbetson Update



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