But the year winds itself down. No, thank heavens, I'm not going to be at MLA this year, much as I'd like to hang with my friends in Chicago & get away from the surreally warm weather down here. Instead, I'm girding my loins for the coming semester's courses & finishing up a few books. The tip of the week is Stephen Rodefer's Mon Canard (The Figures, 2000). All six of the poems in this collection are first-rate, but the real tour de force is the title poem, some sixty-odd fourteen-line stanzas that seem to marry Zukofsky's Catullus "translations," Finnegans Wake, and a snazzy trans-dictional, translingual crosscutting into a wonderfully erotic cassoulet (which, as a fine violinist once showed me, must always be eaten with vinegar). It begins
Julie my duck, mama's lute, chouchou in lieu of amoreAnd on and beautifully on. Hot stuff.
of our loo, butte of my butte, beate of your butt
mont rue, my verity former not HERE, not her
mob spent of row, flowers in rue Lappe, pet asinine pot
my lovely cinder, mine ashen heart, onliest wit
ness to my witness, jump in Seine, berth, ankeberry
every thin necklace nested, sturdiest hysteria, white
patent leather policefemme, unreading gaoler, op
pen opera, princess mon amie electuary Jew, petit rat burg
er, my choo choo, coughdrop of my esophaguy, my lu
dens, by my mitten, minion of my invisible cake, liz
ard die of my destiny, mutt, cuff, flycast, gal
oshes, SMITTEN GLOVES, smith of my smith bull
's blood drawn in sleepy smiles....
*I was astonished some years back, in conversation with someone or other, to learn that my interlocutor regarded Edward Dahlberg primarily as "that guy Olson wrote letters to & had a falling-out with": Because I Was Flesh, after all, is something like a benchmark in American memoir-writing.