Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"In A Stone's Hollow" by Freddy Frankel.

IN A Stone's Hollow : Poems by Freddy Frankel. ( Bedbug Press PO BOX 39 Brownsville, Or 97327) www.bedbugpress.com

After a long career in medicine Newton, Mass. poet Freddy Frankel, ( now in his 80's) has come into his own as a poet. Frankel, in a relatively short period of time, has won the "New England Writers Robert Penn Warren Award," his poetry collection "Hottentot Venus" was published by the Pudding House Press, and his work has appeared in such journals as : Concho River, Passager, The Iconoclast, and Ibbetson Street. In his latest collection: " In A Stone's Hollow," Frankel, who was born in South Africa, writes about his experiences as a South African recruit in World War ll, and his childhood experience of racism , apartheid, and growing up Jewish. I was particularly drawn to Frankel's poems of his childhood in South Africa. In the poem "My Mother's Jewish Accent," Frankel sees his mother in a sort of Yiddish "Pygmalion" scene, in which she tries to corset her native tongue to the tapered and cultivated tones of a proper English accent:

"In the presence of the English
my mother widened her mouth,
exhaled the new angular words
unfolding on her unathletic tongue.

The tutor came, I watched from the garden
as she read, separating syllables into a string of pearls;
lips rounded to free the dipthongs house--spouse;
droning this--that, the dentals forced against her teeth.

Then I saw her stand before the mirror, inflating
her cheeks and her chest, in small bursts hammering
Out, damned spot! Out, I say! My mother, my favorite
person, lost to me--becoming somebody else."

This is a rude awakening of a boy to adult realities, and the pain of assimilation.

In "Grief and Grievance" Frankel reveals the disparity between the White and Black world through a funeral for a neighbor's infant. Frankel uses flowers to make his poem bloom:

" After the funeral
of my neighbor's infant son
roses and delphiniums
on the tables, orchids
on the mantel, people stand
in clusters. In the kitchen
the house-boy washes teacups,
eyes fixed on the sink.
A year ago he lost
his daughter, picked wild
baby's breath to decorate
her grave. Grief and grievance
softly rise and fall,
servants carry trays, Tea for madam,
would the master like some tea?"

Highly Recommended.

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