Khurbn and Other Poems

Jerome Rothenberg, Author New Directions Publishing Corporation $19.95 (113p) ISBN 978-0-8112-1108-6
In this collection's first section, ``Khurbn'' (Yiddish and Hebrew for ``total destruction''), Rothenberg ( Poland/1931 ) visits Poland for the first time and discovers that his immigrant parents' native town is only 15 miles from Treblinka, where nearly all of his relatives were murdered. The silence of the death camp creates for Rothenberg ``a vacuum in which the dead are free to speak.'' The narrator hears ``the bright pornography of death implicit in each breath,'' but Rothenberg does not exert his imagination here: ``the grandfather who would have carried god with him / into the pit would he have cursed as I will for him?'' While these poems are explicitly rooted in time and place, the volume's second half, ``Ikons,'' contains experimental verse, often unanchored, that acquires meaning chiefly by its proximity to ``Khurbn.'' In these latter pieces, Rothenberg draws on his knowledge of Native American cultures and his long interest in Dada to forge a poetry in which even dreams assume a horrific physicality. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
Paperback - 113 pages - 978-0-8112-1109-3
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