Japan
Maxine Chernoff
48 pages
ISBN 0-939691-01-9
$6.00

 

Twenty-six 27-line poems by the author of the acclaimed collection of stories, Bop, of which Francine Prose has written, "[Chernoff] can inspire us with the awe we feel when a magician whisks a tablecloth away without disturbing any dishes." Arranged alphabetically by title ("Amble," "Black," "Carom," "Deuce," "Earth," "Feint..."), these poems unravel not only what we know but how we "Think": "Soon a tangle/ a handle/ comb/ calmly aluminum/ of letter S/ a sign." Roland Barthes, who did not know this book, seems to have been looking forward to Chernoff's verbal and mental sleights of hand when he writes, "If I want to imagine a fictive nation, I can give it an invented name, treat it declaratively as a novelistic object... so as to compromise no real country by my fantasy (though it is then that fantasy itself I compromise by the signs of literature), isolate somewhere in the world (faraway) a certain number of features..., and out of these features deliberately form a system. It is this system which I shall call: Japan."



"Syllable by syllable, vigorous aural and resolutely abstract. [Chernoff's] strings of words create L=A=N=G= U=A=G=E poetry of the most radical sort. There is not an iota of ingenuousness to be seen anywhere."
-- Marjorie Perloff


"Maxine Chernoff explores a linguistic world of cuts and connections, of continual action. Japan, like its ancient art of orgami, is presented here as words upon the page, each folding in upon another to create startlingly new and visual patterns.... Her world is one of wonder, and enormous beauty."
--Douglas Messerli