Tuesday, January 16, 2007

RUMORS OF ELECTRICITY by Richard Krech.Sunnyoutside, PO Box 441429 , Somerville, MA 02144. No price given. http://sunnyoutside.com -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Hugh Fox

First off, the whole quality of the printing/set of the book itself is astronomical. A beautiful cover of what look like embroidered plants, flowers,leaves, the kind of thing my mother had on all her needlepoint sofas and chairs. The typeface is Cochin, designed by Georges Peignot in 1913 trying torecapture the type-style of 18th century French engravers. The paper and cover cardboard all textured, whispering "Touch me!" And then Krech's poetry itself, just get a few maps of the MiddleEast/North Africa in order locate where the whole thing takes place.

Krech is aretired hippy turned defense lawyer, now retired as lawyer, totally soaked inNorth Africa and the Middle East: "By the Wadi Draa/at the end of the orad/just outside M'Hamid/the sign said "Timbuctu 2000 km."/ And beyond it the endless Sahara./In Arabic it means desert." ("Visions of Ted Joans on the Other Side ofthe Wadi Draa," p.14). Krech sees the Arab world the way I always saw it when I was surroundedby Arab students in the U.S., going to services in local mosques, meeting Arab friends and their families (and the Jews from Arab countries) in Paris...as exotic, historically fascinating, and fun:

"He came up towards me/to exchange greetings.//A young boy/perhaps 13, 14 years.//His back arched, pinched jacket,/turban, the flowing white tail/blowing in the Afghani wind.//His long delicate nose/& green eyes burning/with the wisdom & mystery of the East.//"Hello,hello," he said./I replied "Salaam." ("Chahar Square," p.18).

I've known Krech for almost forty years and I've never read a bad line in his work. Here in Rumors of Electricity he is the perfect guide into cultures and worlds that have been totally distorted by recent political events. TheArab world has been his obsession most of his life, and he rescues the culture, the world itself from the twistings and turnings that have turned it into dracula-ish horror in the last few years:

"At Prome on the Irawaddy/the greenwater has been slowing/past its lush banks/for thousands of years//the people have watched it flow/while they built their temples/and grew their crops, went to war/and to bed.//The brief spark/from any moment in time/infuses the present,/we are all here at once.//It all begins with you." ("Slow Boat from Mandalay," p.27).

Ibbetson Update/Hugh Fox/Jan 2007

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