Borrowed Love Poems

Overview

If the "I" cannot be representative, what or who can it represent? In John Yau's new collection, Borrowed Love Poems, the reader encounters artists (Hiroshige and Eva Hesse), poets (Marina Tsvetayeva and Georg Trakl), actors (Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre), and memorable figures (a retired wrestler and a private eye named Genghis Chan). Each becomes a spectral, sonorous presence inhabiting the polymorphic body of the page, a shadow of a shadow lit from within. Yau's poems are dazzling explorations of the ...

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Overview

If the "I" cannot be representative, what or who can it represent? In John Yau's new collection, Borrowed Love Poems, the reader encounters artists (Hiroshige and Eva Hesse), poets (Marina Tsvetayeva and Georg Trakl), actors (Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre), and memorable figures (a retired wrestler and a private eye named Genghis Chan). Each becomes a spectral, sonorous presence inhabiting the polymorphic body of the page, a shadow of a shadow lit from within. Yau's poems are dazzling explorations of the multiple, shifting sands of identity, of the fictional, fake, factual, and autobiographical selves that pass like ghosts through the empty space known as "I." Able to seamlessly merge a strict yet eccentric methodology with wild flights of the imagination, Yau moves into a rich, complex realm, where the flickering edges of consciousness-the dream state-become poetry.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Landing somewhere between the surreal-noir aesthetics of David Lynch's Mulholland Drive; a kinder, gentler version of J.K. Huysman's Paris decadence; and the aggregated syllables of Jackson Mac Low's overheard New York, Yau's new poems churn along with the bright inventiveness that have characterized his work before and since the selected Radiant Silhouette from 1990. This eighth collection continues several of the series and modes engaged in that volume the Genghis Chan poems, the briefs to poets and painters and fans will revel in the weird, ghostly wisdom of his lines, punctuated by the poet's trademark "le mot injust" verbal choices: "The circles float in their perfect mouths of ink." First-person forms of "to be" appear frequently "I am called Gobi Snow"; "I was not born in Dulwich or Brighton, but in Camberwell, south London"; "I wasn't always a fevered lepidopterist" to the point where "I Was A Poet In The House of Frankenstein" is a litany of such statements. Calling this form of self-portraiture (like trying to see your reflection in a melting box of crayons) "Love Poems" gives a campy sheen to Yau's behind-the-curtain confessions; the whole can be read as a wry take on poems of identity, ethnic or otherwise. This evisceration of the myth of self-revelation grants a pathos to Yau's distinctively dispassionate accounts of facing love as a "nude drummer boy, all pomade and fancy." (Apr.) Forecast: Yau teaches at Bard College, is a prolific catalogue essayist and art critic, and publishes Black Square editions. This debut with Penguin marks his largest-scale release to date; look for some career-tracing reviews mentioning fellow Bard professor John Ashbery as an influence, and the rising generation of Black Square-ists including Garrett Caples as having learned from him. Expect a revised selected in the next few years. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142000519
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 3/26/2002
  • Series: Poets, Penguin Series
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet the Author

John Yau is a well-known poet, critic, and editor. he has published eight books of poems and several works of prose, as well as monographs on the work of Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, and A. R. Penck. His poetry and criticism have been published in dozens of national magazines.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Russian Letter 3
Russian Letter (2) 4
Russian Letter (3) 6
Russian Letter (4) 7
Russian Letter (5) 9
Russian Letter (6) 10
830 Fireplace Road 12
830 Fireplace Road (2) 13
Bowery Studio 15
Studio Dream 16
Broadcast from 791 Broadway 17
Three Lullabies for Trakl 19
Self-Portrait with Max Beckmann 24
Second Self-Portrait with Max Beckmann 26
Third Self-Portrait with Max Beckmann 28
Movies as a Form of Reincarnation: Boris Karloff Remembers Being Chinese on More Than One Occasion 31
Genghis Chan: Private Eye XXIX 37
Genghis Chan: Private Eye XXX 38
Peter Lorre Reminisces About Being a Sidekick 39
Boris Karloff in The Mummy Meets Dr. Fu Manchu 43
After My Chronology by Peter Lorre 47
I Was a Poet in the House of Frankenstein 49
Film Adaptations of Five of America's Most-Beloved Poems 58
Peter Lorre Records His Favorite Walt Whitman Poem for Posterity 60
Peter Lorre Speaks to the Spirit of Edgar Allan Poe During a Seance 61
Things I Should Tell You Before It's Too Late 67
Didn't They Like You as Much as They Like Themselves? 69
Retired Wrestler 72
Fourth Metabolic Isthmus Sestina 73
Fifth Metabolic Isthmus Sestina 75
Infidel's Romance 77
Written in the Year of the Parrot 78
Domestic Bliss 80
Emission Control 82
The Secret Life of a Statuette 85
One Hundred Views of the Outskirts of Manhattan 87
One Hundred Views of the Port of Baltimore 90
Anonymous Self-Portrait with Wounded Chickadee 93
Autobiography in Pink and Blue 94
Autobiography in Red and Yellow 95
the late tale 101
another late tale 105
storied fibs piled high 110
oval of oxidized potatoes 115
muddy putti under impecunious sun 118
ninety-nine yaupon rosary cycle 120
Borrowed Love Poems 127
Notes 133
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