An unconventional new collection from a National Poetry Series award winner Mark Yakich 's acclaimed debut collection, Unrelated Individuals Forming a Group Waiting to Cross, examined the blessing and curse of romantic love in its multiplicities. The poems in his new collection approach questions of suffering and atrocity (e.g., war, genocide, fallen soufflés) with discerAn unconventional new collection from a National Poetry Series award winner Mark Yakich 's acclaimed debut collection, Unrelated Individuals Forming a Group Waiting to Cross, examined the blessing and curse of romantic love in its multiplicities. The poems in his new collection approach questions of suffering and atrocity (e.g., war, genocide, fallen soufflés) with discerning humor and unconventional comedy. These poems show how humor can be taken as seriously as straight-ahead solemnity and how we can re-envision solemnity in terms other than lamentation, protest, and memorial....
|Title||:||The Importance of Peeling Potatoes in Ukraine|
|Number of Pages||:||128 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The Importance of Peeling Potatoes in Ukraine Reviews
One of the more bizarre collections of poetry I've read, Yakich is both clever and uncomfortable at times, often within the same stanza or line. But there is something really compelling about "The Importance of Peeling Potatoes in Ukraine" that makes one feel like revisiting it for fear of missing something important, partially due to the apparent simplicity in many of the poems. Admittedly I'm a tad disappointed that Ukraine didn't figure as much in the collection as the title makes it out to be. Although I don't actively seek out contemporary collections about my own culture, it was still delightful to read a poem like "Brilliant Pebbles" and laugh at it because of how sadly and painfully accurate it sounds. Yakich is really clever - poems like "Pretzels Come to America", "A Brief History of Patriotism", and "The Supercomputer Finally Answers Charles Manson" are a testament to this - although his love for genitalia and making statements about death as pertaining to patriotism and terror do frequently teeter on the edge between satire and crudeness. One of the Notes in the back in fact says it all, as Yakich writes about one of his poems: "I have had to replace a cunt with a vagina in my poem, because a cunt can no longer be so named". There's certainly a lot more to get out of these poems, even the ones that I wasn't too fond of. It's more the inexplicable yet overpowering atmosphere created by these poems that makes them strangely likeable despite some of their wording and themes.
Mark Yakich, The Importance of Peeling Potatoes in Ukraine (Penguin, 2008)I had meant to write a review of this book replete with quotes; in fact, I'd planned a review that was more than 50% quotes, simply because Mark Yakich plays with language in such wonderful ways. And yet I have found myself unable to write that review for the past week. So I guess, since I'm sitting here writing, I've abandoned that idea and will just give the standard book report.Mark Yakich enjoys playing with language. The best way to figure out if someone's really serious about playing with language is to check the notes section of any given book. Yakich's is as readable as the rest of the book, and that is a wonderful thing. (Seriously, when you read this, just take the notes section as another poem.) This is even more interesting when you consider that the subject matter Yakich is addressing in this book is dark, almost uniformly so. War, depression, death, poverty, you name it, it's all here, and Yakich proves that his language play is incapable of including very black comedy indeed.There's been a lot of stuff going around over the years about how poetry is dying because poets are out of touch with the real world, both in the subjects they choose to write about and in their use of language. Me, I've always been happy to contribute to that decline, since I am a fervent follower of the idea that poetry is defined as the elevation of language, and a zealot about the idea that “political poetry” is, ultimately, of worth in neither sphere. Upon reflection, after having read The Importance of Peeling Potatoes in Ukraine, it strikes me as odd that there are such clear lines being drawn. No one uses elevated language for political poetry, so I've never really encountered anything that crosses the streams all that much to make a comparison. That has changed this year, both with Ben Lerner's Angle of Yaw and with this book. Both know how to do it right (though Yakich more so than Lerner), and both pull it off pretty well. But in both cases, that's also only a small part of the bigger picture, and that is another problem one often finds with political poets; there's no room for anything else. Yakich's palette is as wide and colorful as the world, even if every one of those colors seems to be overlaid with a bit of ash-grey. *** ½
"Say, at the symphony you can fallAsleep gently and unnoticed. After all, what'sA little book of poems going to doFor you? We wrote the following wordsBecause they made us happy at times,And at other times they made us sadAnd then rhyme like assholes.Don't think that we had a good timeWriting this. Don't think that we hadA bad time either. We simply had time, and that'sProbably a greater sin. For youCan plainly see, we are not one.But we are not two either. We is this third thingBetween us:; the dildo or the children.I love you, Wife says to Husband,Now lock the door.The children love you, Reader/Reaper,Because there's no one left to adore.I love you rhymes with Let me go,Or so say the children of dead heroes."One of the most enjoyable contemporary collections I've ever read. Maybe the most enjoyable. Yackich loves language and has serious things to say with it in the most beautiful ways.
Umf. Being a Ukrainian living in America does not a poetics make. However, there are many witty lines in this collection - my favorites are:"You have to be pretty/soft to advocate the hard life" (Appalachian Canticle) "Lots of people/mistake a rock for a bear, but almost no one/mistakes a bear for a rock." (Poem for the U.S. Department of Agriculture)
in my estimation, the most enjoyable poet alive and working today