Iterature

Eugene Ostashevsky, Author
Eugene Ostashevsky, Author . Ugly Duckling Presse $12 (128p) ISBN 978-1-933254-07-4
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Ostashevsky is part of a cluster of Russian-Jewish émigré poets in their 30s centered in New York, and including Matvei Yankelovitch (who, with poet Anna Moschovakis, runs Ugly Duckling Presse out of Brooklyn) and Genya Turkovskaya. This book collects a number of pieces that Ostashevsky has declaimed memorably over the last few years: all feature his signature blend of comedy, pathos and sharp intellect, and nearly all feature rhymes both great ("I used to think of myself as just another Ovid/ somewhere in Romania sporting a Morgen-David") and small ("pushing off with the wishbone around my prostate/ above his head in the air I became prostrate"). Few recent books of verse are as consistently funny and surprising, and spoken through ancient folklore ("Song of the Western Slavs"), impressive architecture ("My hands were like the Iglesia da la Sagrada Familia/ With my pelvis everyone was familiar") and innumerable figures from history and literature. Wildly synthetic, rhetorically tumescent and willfully prosaic, Ostashevsky's work might be best summed up in the name of a character from his more recent work: DJ Spinoza. (Jan.)

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