Nathaniel Rudavsky-Brody writes across and between English and French, but also from within language itself. His mysterious collection, aptly titled A Dire Shortage of Usable Meaning, rises from parentheses, suspended syntax, and silence. It’s almost as if he’s reinvented English so his poems can cross, not just linguistic boundaries, but the frontier between the living and the dead in a ghostly archaeology. “And let us listen, listen,” he pleads, “for the twang of taut silk / and other impossible musics.” A haunted, haunting, and wildly original book.
These poems are beautifully, meticulously written moment by moment, and even the most arresting images are subsumed into the whole, so that what one remembers is immersion in a whole experience rather than detachable moments.… The sequence breathes a sort of cosmic frustration at the nature of things, and the way they slip through our fingers unapprehended. I can’t think of equivalents in English, except very broad ones, like Byron’s great long poem Darkness. The two names that come to mind are Beckett and Bobrowski, more Bobrowski than Beckett.… —Dick Davis
Reading these poems, one comes to admire the breathtaking scope of them. Nathaniel Rudavsky-Brody is a poet at home in the hard questions of the soul. From Adam and Eve to Orpheus and Eurydice, he weaves a tapestry of myth and imagination all his own. Each line, in its own way, asks us, “Who would dare dream further, / who would dare understand?” A rare debut.—Michael Shewmaker
A Dire Shortage of Usable Meaning
by Nathaniel Rudavsky-Brody
$21.95, paperback, 136 pp