The World in Place of Itself

Bill Rasmovicz, Author
Bill Rasmovicz, Author . Alice James $14.95 (65p) ISBN 978-1-882295-64-7
Reviewed on: 08/20/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007

This passionate debut from New York City–based Rasmovicz places him on an unfamiliar border, between the haunted generalities of Franz Wright and the hunted, bomb-damaged villages of Charles Simic. Rasmovicz's Polish heritage provides the collection's deep background; many poems depict the towns and fields of a wartime dream-state Eastern Europe—“fear thumping the air like a fog light.” Many of these poems find portents in crows, who represent both the history of warfare and the menace of our own personal deaths. “What tethers us to consciousness?” Rasmovicz asks, as if he would prefer never to have known. His scary landscapes, with their rivers, “looted tabernacle,” and “perfume/ ...of a neighborhood burning,” suggest a poet who cannot separate the tumult of political conflict from the “half-light of heavy overcast” in his own soul. Sometimes he lands too close to Simic, though he lacks (by far) the older poet's reserve. Rasmovicz is rarely a subtle, and often a melodramatic, writer (“desire continues/ hauling the broken cello of its body forward”). His music does not innovate—lines break on the phrase, some poems sound like speeches. And yet his images are vivid, the night of his soul dark on the page. (Sept.)