Reft and Light

by Ernst Jandl. Selected Poems with Multiple Versions by American Poets. ed. by Rosmarie Waldrop. 112 pp. Burning Deck, 71 Elmgrove Avenue, Providence, RI, 02906.

Book Review by

It is very good, it is so good to take the focus away from form mundane, overin and doubleflated, masturbated, philosophical melodramatic mud, vapid poems, with their deep meanings and seething purpose and posing and place it on the fact that words can be toys. Ah toys - such were the joys…. But not Are! Rosemarie Waldrop allows us to re-enter that delightful Popsicle palace and place with her Ernst Jandl project. Playfulness unleashed can be poetry! Fun can be poetry and humor poetry. Talk about making poetry some larger and wider and poetry that can have a popular appeal and a wider and a real reading audience!!! Let’s start with this project. Thank the Gods that there is still room in the ponderous realm of poems that poems can be funny. All of this and more happens in this most inspiring collection of translations of German poet Ernst Jandl. Like this poem translated by Rosemarie Waldrop:

what can you do without vowels
kss
fck
lck
sck
pss
sht

The words shift and mesh in Jandl’s poetry making music. A relief! Ernst Jandl was born in 1925 in Vienna where he still lives. Among the many translators, beyond Rosemarie Waldrop, are Keith Waldrop, Joan Retallack, Norma Cole, Craig Watson, etc. - an impressive cast. And all leaving the office behind for a day at the beach. Bravo. A most splendid and enjoyable and inspirational book. I have the highest regard for this book and give it my greatest praise, which is, I will return to it. What more?