Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Aimless Reading: The S's, Part 58.1 (Gary Sullivan)

Everyone Has A Mouth
Herbeck, Ernst
Everyone Has A Mouth
Tr. Gary Sullivan

I bought this impeccably produced, letterpress chaperoo at a reading by Nancy Kuhl and Gregg Biglieri at the Ugly Duckling Presse world headquarters in Brooklyn back in June.

This one should obviously be filed under "H." It is also a chapbook, which means I shouldn't write about it at all. Nonetheless, here I am. Here it is. Here we all are. I am writing about it and filing it under "Gary Sullivan," who translated it. So there.

As I mentioned the other day, Gary was one of the most enthusiastic early readers of this blog. When I first got it going, Gary had two blogs, Elsewhere and Ernst Herbeck. In the latter he posted translations of Herbeck's poems as he completed them, or rather as they were nearing completion. Often he would publish two, three, even four variations of the same poem and solicit preferences from readers, explaining his thought process and some of the decisions he was confronting as he worked on them. Readers would post comments and start discussions of their own ideas. It was an incredibly innovative way to translate and to lay bare the process. I miss it now that he's done.

You should buy a copy of it here. Only $8.

I saw Gary for the first time since 2008 last month.  I'd had a work lunch in Manhattan. Afterwards, I went to a couple of galleries in Chelsea. I met Gary at Kinokuniya Books in Midtown. It's an incredible Japanese bookstore loaded with everything from Manga to Luck Cats to books on film theory. Afterwards, we ate dinner at a ramen place near Grand Central.

I had intended to meet up with him when I came to New York for a conference in May of 2011. However, the day before I was to leave was the first nice day of the spring, so I decided to ride my bike to work. I cut through the parking lot of an apartment complex near our home on Norwood Ave. in Buffalo. I had cut through it many times before and was well aware of the three speed bumps that extended across the drive.

My usual routine was to go around them in a space about three feet wide between the end of each bump and the building. However, on this day, I noticed a man talking through a first floor window and started wondering what he was up to. Was it a drug deal? A friendly chat? Something more sinister? By the time I saw the speed bump, it was almost too late to avoid it. I should have just gone right over it. Instead, I cut hard to my left, then just as quickly to my right.

Before I knew it I was on the ground, the handlebars jabbing me in the stomach, the palm of my hand bloodied, a familiar pain in my left elbow. Three years earlier, I had broken the radial head in my right elbow going over the handlebars. This felt exactly the same way. And so it was. Only this time I had to have surgery. They put a pin in my elbow.

So I didn't get to see Gary.

Speaking of surgery. I am having gum surgery in 35 minutes. Blech.

from Everyone Has A Mouth

The Mouth.

Not everyone has a mouth
some mouth is disqualified
or operated on. So it is with me
the doctor says everyone has 
a mouth. the mouth is
especially for eating. The mouth
consists of the upper lip and the
lower lip, the throat and the flapper. 
Of the teeth in the upper jaw
and also in the lower jaw. Half of the 
nose also belongs to the mouth. As well as
both of the earflaps and the index fin-
ger when one has stuck it into the mouth one
has.

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