No. 10 - 11


A review by Dipak Mazumdar

Andrey Gritsman
Numina Press, 2007
ISBN: 978-0975361528 

The title of the book of verse is “Pisces” which is the twelfth  sign of the zodiac. The picture of the cover shows three dead fish hanging above water. Water is flowing and fish are dead. The picture has strong symbolical relationship with the poems. Pisces  is the last house of zodiac, the portrait of the House, two fish swimming towards opposite directions, also the end of the circle. As several poems refer to old age, sense of loss, a feeling of absence, and the poet himself  “standing outside, watching through the window”, “turning into an old photograph of  a man. He looks from the picture straight into my eyes”. There is something heavy footed, silent, introspective, intense, and momentary, generally in all of his poems.

All the poems in this collection have beautiful black and white photographs opposite to them. Black colour is more illuminated than white. The objects and persons are blurred giving me an impression, persons, trees and other objects in these photos are ephemeral, clocks are reminding us “time is up”, sometimes pretty absurd, as we can’t relate these pictures to the poems. Perhaps absurdity is the clue to life’s unreality.

Then the bitter-sweet parting, after meeting for a short while and “heart beat of departure”  as reflected in the poem “One day”. Encountering after  “fluttering of letters, a fluctuation of doubts”, after , “caressing, feeding on my warmth” it is time to say good bye and return to “ our empty shells”, ends up describing a sense of futility of  even in most passionate process of love making. On the photograph the couple are walking along hand in hand, the other hand of the lover carrying a suitcase. 

To me the same feeling of melancholy and absence in the poem “Catcher” ramble on “lost creature”, “abandoned spirit”,  “not seeing you, still seeing you”  again fill up the presence, not by romantic phrases but by  a painful poetic line, 
“an ashtray filled with the Marlborough stubs, 
like fingers fallen off”. 

One feels all passion turn into ashes. But does desire completely wither  away and make us a disillusioned human being, cynical or serene, not really, I relish his lust for life in the next poem “When we are old”,
 “ cynical and romantic 
with the same boy-like interest 
in my penis,that became 
the scales on a warm stone”. 

Turn to another love poem “Love Letter”. Construction is different, “you and I” rushing through myriad of sensations of taste, sound, smell, and memories,
“pressing all buttons at once dreaming
mumbling and singing
chasing a ghost, not seeing 
you near me all my lofe, longing
writing by the fire place , crossing 
out and writing. All my life  I am writing
an unending letter to you.”
This a wonderful poem in praise of love. It has  a sustained intensity which has been created by “ing” forms added to verbs which are the driving force and a powerful rhythmic structure.

There are themes beside “love”. “Frequent Flyer”, is a homage to his loving father who has passed away, assuring him not to worry about him because “when I fly an angel attends me” and there is a hint of himself slowly fading away,
“I live on myself, expectation
melting slowly into waiting
as I keep flying
in the space given
for the time being.”
The last lines are poignant, waiting is very painful, perhaps a possible meeting in the after life. 

The theme    of “homelessness”, in the poem “The City” is addressed to a friend. Even the city has been described affectionately,
 “       rarely visible 
bell tower, scarlet flower beds,
barbed wire fence….
flag with a hundred butterflies
on the desolate square”
But the night opens a book reading silently the underlying feeling of homelessness. This inner homelessness continues while you are “sitting and drinking to the blasting music, and thinking of  those heavy stocks of incidental life insuring a worthless thought of relief”  as the poet describes his own existential situation in “ The syntax of Night”. It reminds me of Max Ernst’s surrealist painting on City, a thick tropical jungle from where no one can ever get out of his own loneliness and desolation, all the partying and downpour of champagne slowly drive you to the edge of oblivion.

Finally, I would like to mention his three lined, haiku-like poem, “Three Lines”,
“The plane crossed
a screened window
A scar in the sky”. 
The poem speaks for itself.




The copyright of 
everything published 
here remains 
with the authors.


Main Page | Current Issue | Contributors| News | Where to Buy | Links | Contact us | Archives

© 2003-2007 Ars Interpres Publications.