Teaching a Poem

Eugene Ostashevsky

from The Feeling Sonnets

Under the Pont Mirabeau cool the Seine.A cormorant, black as a punctuation mark, comma.The bridge is riveted. Are we riveted. We are riveted over the river.We are riveted by rhyme.I think of my daughters. I am here for my daughters.My daughters are not here. Where are my daughters.I think of Clara Smith’s “Shipwrecked Blues.”“Well I don’t mind drowning but the water is so cold.”Under the Pont Mirabeau cool the Seine.It is possible that poetry is possible but not my poetry.I want to hold my daughters with my arms but they are not here.Celan fell from here, arms flailing, before his time as if to Giudecca.Dante wrote Tolomea but meant all the Jews of Giudecca riveted in ice.My students are waiting for me to say something.

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Eugene Ostashevsky was born in 1968 in Leningrad, USSR. He immigrated with his family to New York in 1979 and currently lives in Berlin. His latest book of poetry, The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi, published by the New York Review of Books, contemplates communication challenges faced by pirates and parrots. His previous book of poetry, The Life and Opinions of DJ Spinoza, published by Ugly Duckling Presse in Brooklyn, examines the defects of natural and artificial languages. As translator and scholar, Ostashevsky works mainly on the Russian avant-garde. His prizes include the DAAD Berliner Künstlerprogramm prize, the Siegfriend-Unseld-Gastprofessur, and the National Translation Award. The Pirate has also appeared from KOOKbooks in German translation by Uljana Wolf and Monika Rinck.

Asymptote

18-Jul

Taipei City, Taiwan

Editor-in-Chief: Lee Yew Leong
Senior Editor: Sam Carter
Poetry Editor: Aditi Machado

Winner of the 2015 London Book Fair’s International Literary Translation Initiative Award, Asymptote is the premier site for world literature in translation. We take our name from the dotted line on a graph that a mathematical function may tend toward, but never reach. Similarly, a translated text may never fully replicate the effect of the original; it is its own creative act.

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