The Arrival

Daniel Simko, Author ; edited by Carolyn Forche and James Reidel. Four Way $15.95 (100p) ISBN 978-1-884800-92-4

Simko's posthumous English-language debut is a long-awaited event for those who have known about his haunting poems. Simko was born in Czechoslovakia in 1969 and moved to the U.S. after the Soviet invasion of the country in the late '60s. He lived much of his life in New York—writing, participating in the literary scene, and translating an acclaimed volume of the poems of Georg Trakl—and died in 2004. Now, his executor, the poet Carolyn Forche, has shepherded his poems, which he was reluctant to publish in his lifetime, into print. Like Charles Simic, though devoid of Simic's playful humor, Simko's poetry has as its backdrop a hazy, surreal sense of life in a war-torn Eastern European landscape: “I have mentioned fists, and departures,/ the dumb choreography of the blind.” These poems are fragmentary but always sharp, their emotional weight clear. Simko probes the self, looking through pinholes for glimpses of other people: “I wake up/ and you come/ with a shawl/ black with stars.” And, like Frank Stanford, another poet whose influence has spread posthumously, Simko writes with haunting precision about death: “I am entering you the way an angel enters a scythe.” This book will be a bittersweet discovery to many who will wish this poet had more time. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 11/16/2009
Release date: 10/01/2009
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