cover image Uxudo


Ann Tardos, Anne Tardos. O Books, $15 (96pp) ISBN 978-1-891190-99-5

Pan-European ex-pat artist and poet Tardos writes here in spliced together bits of Hungarian, German, French and English, but the pronunciation keys and other linguistic graphs she includes bespeak precise formulation rather than polyglot mish-mash. At its best, Uxudo--a word, we're told, produced by computer error, and seemingly the only non-""real"" word here--invites the reader into a world of fraught semantic and phonologic echoes, an effect furthered by being grafted onto video stills (mainly of women at different stages of life) which repeat, along with the words, in serial alterations. As visual poems, they resemble French Lettrism, with their clashing fonts and loose margins, engendering an endearing, consciousness-like chaos. In one instance, a flurry of equal signs shows the poet lost in equivalences--""quake = tremblement = Beben = renges""--paradoxically less present in the text when giving us its code. Tardos's linguistic isolation is most pronounced when she is simply being herself: ""Hochgeduld after nine from a fountain/ Gekreuzung vielmehr, which is how it's done/ Neighboryly jolie bete/ Give it time, haromvaros."" The words following this bit, ""Afterimage = Nachbild,"" as well as much else here, give the work an explicitly post-WWII cast, suggesting post-war Germany's and fascist Europe's often obsessive attempts to find a usable past. Tardos's unique brand of multicultural pathos reminds us that our most pressing issues of identity and empire have been around for many years, and in many guises. (Nov.)