Ode by Ilya Kutik, translated by Kit Robinson, Alef Books, 1995
The sixty ten-line stanzas of Ode are presented with one translated stanza per page, under which is the Russian, occasionally followed by Kutik's explanatory footnotes. This layered arrangement, reminiscent of Williams' Kora in Hell or Spicer's Heads of the Town up to the Aether, is very engaging. The book itself is beautifully published by Alef Books with a reproduction of August Strindberg's Broom Buoy lusciously on the cover.
Ode is a good example of a translation project which has taken place among the multiple international connections being made by many writers in the contemporary writing community. These projects allow the reader to have access to poetry and poetics which are different from, but interestingly compatible with American poetries. In this case, Kutik's grand metaphorical style, with its elaborate, mythic metaphors of human consciousness, has allowed Robinson to get wild with the language in a way that is quite distinct from his own writing. The resulting "gelatinous sea of words" is a delight.
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