Microreviews, Vol. 5

Bullets into Bells: Poets & Citizens Respond to Gun Violence
Ed. Brian Clements, Alexandra Teague, and Dean Rader
Beacon Press, $15.00

The NRA has informed me that any comment on this book constitutes a violation of the Second Amendment; therefore, I will only say that that copies of Bullets into Bells could be worn as padding to protect American citizens from second-amendment-related gunfire.

*

Grace Notes: Appogiatures
Jean Cocteau, tr. Mary-Sherman Willis
Word Works, $20.00

Dear Mr. Cocteau, is it true in your diary you accused France of “disrespect towards Hitler”? And “speculated on the Führer’s sexuality?” No, tell us you died at nine years old. Some fake Jean Cocteau, some faux double, grew stiff for Hitler, not Jean Cocteau.

*

The Unfollowing
Lyn Hejinian
Omnidawn, $17.95

Cento review: “Listen—Charles Dickens and Gertrude Stein down a thick well, south of here / So like a man goes Yo, see polyphony, see fifty tourists belonging to a song bird, see
chapter LIX / To begin with it was a sadist, a non-sequitur on a beast called That, sucking a chained dog / I thought I saw, but A is nowhere to be found / Can you believe this shit.”

*

The Odyssey
Homer, tr. Emily Wilson
Norton, $39.95

Dear Homer, I don’t know if I should call you Mr. Homer, as I’m not sure if Homer’s your first or last name, your use of one name reminds me of Cher, who is no Homer, though she would say Homer is certainly no Cher, and she would be quite right, wouldn’t she, Mr. Homer.

*

Newspaper Blackout
Austin Kleon
Harper, $12.99

Cento Review: “Hostile Universe clad in pajamas watching Forbidden Frankenstein we are on our way to other tricks You pull pranks at some point you have to seduce everyone What’s the Point.”

*

Drafts, Fragments and Poems: The Complete Poetry
Joan Murray
New York Review Books, $16.00

“I would rather be mad and bad, erratic and incomprehensible, than vulnerably acquiescent to the drab,” Joan Murray once wrote. Which of our dear lauded poets can say that today?

*

venture of the infinite man
Pablo Neruda, tr. Jessica Powell
City Lights, $15.95

Originally composed (in lower case with no punctuation) on rib, bat wing, kidney stone. Neruda trying to assassinate the Twenty-Love-Poems-and-an-Ode-to-Despair Neruda. Yet the infinitesimal “i” in this work contains the infinite venture called “Pablo Neruda.”

*

Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda
Pablo Neruda, tr. Forrest Gander
Copper Canyon, $23.00

Dear Mr. Neruda, how is it each of your poems always begins I, the esteemed poet Pablo Neruda and somehow always ends, Love, Your Most Humble and Beloved World Class Poet, Pablo Neruda?

*

Partisan of Things
Francis Ponge, tr. Joshua Corey and Jean-Luc Garneau
Kenning Editions, $13.95

“Man is a curious body whose center of gravity is not in himself,” writes Francis Ponge. Which could be translated as: “Ponge is a curious body whose center of gravity is not in himself, but in an oyster, a cigarette, a piece of meat, a book with a title we still aren’t sure how to translate.”

*

Monochords
Yannis Ritsos, tr. Paul Merchant
Tavern Books, $17.00

Dear Mr. Ritsos, Of one sentence you a poem can make. But one word, who can make one word poem? If you will allow “poem” as an intransitive verb, Mr. Ritsos.

*

War Variations
Amelia Rosselli, tr. Lucia Re and Paul Vangelisti.
Otis Books/Seismicity Editions, $14.95

Dear Ms. Rosselli, Is it true you committed suicide, in French and English, as well as Italian? Or did you assassinate Benito Mussolini when you committed suicide in 1996? Or did he finally suicide you, decades after he died, take you in Rome, in French and English, as well as Italian?

*

If Not Winter: Fragments of Sappho
Sappho, tr. Ann Carson
Vintage, $16.95

Cento review: “but if you love us Sappho Sappho why with the mouth your soft throat desire is crazy silvery luminous stained with Eros I conversed with you in a dream running away the Muses running away Sappho why why.”

*

A Good Comb: The Sayings of Muriel Spark
Muriel Spark
New Directions, $13.95

“It calms you down, a good comb,” writes Spark. But then so does a collection of ripe sayings. But then so does rubbing a big green egg round and round the grooves of my swerving brain.

Also check out Microreviews Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, and Volume 4