Monday, July 05, 2010
by Andrey Gritsman
Cervena Barva Press
West Somerville MA
Copyright © 2010 by Andrey Gritsman
Softbound, 73 pages, $15
Review by Zvi A. Sesling
If there were an organization called Poets Without Borders Andrey Gritsman would probably be it president. Gritsman, born and raised in Russia, has been in the U.S. nearly thirty years and is a physician in New York City. He writes in at least three styles I can
discern, sometimes like the Russian he is, sometimes like surrealist Eastern European poets, and other times in the tradition of American poets, mixing in medical terms here and there. No matter the style, each poem is wholly believable.
The first part of the book draws on Gritsman’s Russian life – first love, school, his father,
Moscow and his return to his native land and ends with his first job in America with a poem entitled VA, which stands for the VA Medical Center. The two sections are eclectic
mixing subjects and picking on a number of American topics.
Gritsman also takes a simple subject like a Hot Dog Poem and turn it into a sexy, humorous poem, witness these lines:
A hot dog poem.
Directed and glistening
in its phallic infallibility
on the backdrop of common fallacy.
Not flaccid, but resilient
with mustard and relish over it,
ketchup on the side,
with the authority of a hot club
smacked between the labia of the bun
by the yellow claw fingers
of the hot-dog man.
Later in the poem he writes about a woman with two adorable little dogs
Rigor and Mortis.
Gritsman’s take on a funeral is one that makes you hope your own is not like his vision.
His New Jersey Gothic and New Jersey Grill, Smoking Area remind everyone who doesn’t live in that state why they make fun of it.
Although there are a few lines that might put off some people, overall this is a volume of poetry not only worth reading, but owning. Gritsman’s landscape is live and breathing, spitting out the raw (Holiday Inn) chomping on sex, infidelity and race (Story) while Bed,
Bath and Beyond is a bittersweet ending to a complex book.
A final note: I always favor poetry books which leave you thinking, which make you want to go back to them, which drill a hole in the stomach and make you wish you had written some of them. Andrey Gritsman has done that with Live Landscape.