Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Review of TOURIST AT A MIRACLE by Mark Statman, Hanging Loose Press, Brooklyn, New York, 88 pages, 2010, $18
By Barbara Bialick
Just look at the son’s-eye-photo of Mark Statman on the back of this colorful, well-designed book. He’s a happy man, with good job, wife and son, even translates Lorca! But he’s still looking with the wide eyes of a poet—and a fun dad.
I’d like to see how this smooth but polished poet writes the passion of Lorca… Statman says “the danger is not/that he’ll take over/my poems/but that when it happens/I won’t know/image of cow, of horse…/so when someone points it out/I won’t see—already eaten/devoured”.
I don’t see evidence of devoured by Lorca in Tourist at a Miracle, but rather a pebble-smooth style that you can read quickly from beginning to end, maybe too quickly, without noticing many symbols or startling imagery. But when I go back over individual poems, I definitely find some favorites:
“Changing”: “the stores in/my neighborhood in Brooklyn/are always changing/a flower store/becomes a bookstore/a bookstore/becomes a cell phone store/a vacant lot a drug store/…one change after another/in the changelessness”
“You’re in Love”: “It was worth it/just for when it happened/for the certainty/of how you’ll feel/when it happens again”
“The Happy Problem”: “why do you think/that just because you say it/it’s true?”
“Tourist”: “hubo un milagro, she said/a miracle/…I didn’t know/if I wanted to go/I already knew/I wouldn’t see what she had seen”
Statman has written several other works, including THE ALPHABET OF TREES: A GUIDE TO NATURE WRITING, LISTENER IN THE SNOW: THE PRACTICE AND TEACHING OF POETRY, and he co-translated with Pablo Medina, Federico Garcia Lorca’s POET IN NEW YORK. He taught for many years for the Teachers and Writers Collaborative. Currently he is an associate professor at Eugene Lang College of the New School. He is a long-time resident of New York.