Thursday, January 26, 2012

Aimless Reading: The R's, Part 8 (Charles Reznikoff)

Poems 1918-1975
Reznikoff, Charles
Poems 1918-1975: The Complete Poems of Charles Reznikoff

Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books.

I remember first reading Reznikoff in the basement archive of the Segue Foundation in New York. I remember reading from a copy of the anthology The Other Side of the Century, edited by Douglas Messerli, which contained selections from Holocaust. I was profoundly moved by these poems.

On one of my first trips to Talking Leaves, my wallet stuffed with student loan cash, I bought this book. It was only after I brought it home that I discovered that the word "Complete" in the title was qualified by the fact that it excluded Holocaust, Testimony, and several other works by Reznikoff. I was disappointed, to say the least, because neither of those books were easily available outside the library.

I've since read them in there, but have never owned them.

Another memory is of discussing the famous image of the "girder, still itself among the rubbish" in a seminar with Charles Bernstein. I think we discussed it in the context of George Oppen, though, for whom the line was something of a talisman. Or maybe it was a lecture on the Objectivists.  Not really sure. Anyhow...

from Poems 1918-1975: The Complete Poems of Charles Reznikoff

from Jerusalem the Golden

51

The dead tree at the corner
from the gray boughs of which bark has fallen
in places and all the twigs–
be thankful, you other trees,
that, bare and brown, are only leafless
in a winter of your lives.

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