cover image Boris by the Sea

Boris by the Sea

Matvei Yankelevich, . . Octopus, $14 (80pp) ISBN 978-0-9801938-2-4

In his second collection of poems, Ugly Duckling Presse founding editor Yankelevich adopts the voice of a kind of brilliant savant. The titular character, like Kaspar Hauser and perhaps a bit like the speaker of Ted Hughes's Crow , meets the world anew in each of these mostly prose poems and grimly imagines his place in it. “Boris lay flat on the ground and began to watch things happen. It started slow. But things were definitely afoot,” states a poem early in the collection. Boris philosophizes, casting great spiritual matters in his own naive terms: “People need each other, thought Boris, to check each other for ticks. People need each other for solving the problem of what is inside.” Elsewhere, Boris ponders the relation of the self to the world: “Truly, when I believed/ in it, everything disappeared.” Sometimes, a speaker denoted as “Author”—presumably Yankelevich (The Present Work ) casts a sympathetic eye toward Boris: “I can see it now./... He is angry that love is not like in the songs.” Readers will find themselves overtaken by a similar sympathy and a fresh, if melancholy, vision of the world. (Dec.)