Some spires of Prague
After a couple of years in pre-production, my Green Integer press finally published this July Jerome Rothernberg's and Milos Sovak's excellent translation, Antilyrik, a selection of poems by the forgotten (almost unknown, at least in the US) Czech experimentalist, Vítězslav Nezval.
o hundred-towered Prague
city with fingers of all the saints
with fingers made for swearing falsely
with fingers from the fire & hail
with a musician's fingers
with shining fingers of a woman lying on her back
with fingers of asparagus
with fingers with fevers of 105 degrees
with fingers of frozen forest & with fingers without gloves
with fingers on which a bee has landed
with fingers of blue spruces
with fingers disfigured by arthritis
with fingers of strawberries
with spring water fingers & with fingers of bamboo
"The Dark City" presents a dream-like ghoulish world a city like a carousel, houses like accordions, streets composed of beds from which the citizens come out like "giant worms" or "A pack of dogs that leaped out of a mirror." As the narrator escapes this nightmare world, the city crumbles into ruins and is left as only a pile of earth and ash.
I heard the secrets in a kiss
the words around it circling like a line of colored butterflies
saw thousands of bacteria
in a sick man's body
& every one of them looked like a spiky chestnut
like a cosmos making war
with a skin of scaly armor
I saw a human break free from his dying comrades
in the pit of history that has no bottom
"Fireworks 1924" consists of 82 directions which Nezval defines as a "cinemagenic poem."
Los Angeles, August 19, 2001
In 2002 Milos and Jerry won the PEN Center USA award for their translation of Nezval's Antilyrik.
On January 26, 2009 Sovak died in San Diego, after a prolonged illness, at the age of 67.
Los Angeles, October 18, 2009