[Tuesday: how to go on writing warm words in round rain?]

Matvei Yankelevich

Tuesday: how to go on writing warm words in round rain?I'd be happy to speak your name in graphic, soundlessverses, but all the O's roll out of reach, so should Iroll there along with them to silence, though I longto be precise and write you upbeat postcards - "Don't smoketoo much!" etc. - heroically longhandingevery letter or finally install black ribbon(machine now older than my father was) and bangthanks and condolences I owe the world that won'tbe shut by glass excuses out. Although there isall this that needs doing, I won't hunker down. Insteadcarve open morbid quotation marks into my mind,not having drunk enough to write a poem, searchmy memory for memes and dead men, muse on somelast misunderstanding to find in that old failureconsolation and turn it like old sweaters insideout in glad animal movements, roll through all things,un-aging as one's final year, and jester questionsof myself: how is it that winter still hangs on you?

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Matvei Yankelevich is a poet, translator, and editor. His books include the poetry collections Some Worlds for Dr. Vogt (Black Square) and Dead Winter (Fonograf), as well as the translations Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms (Overlook) and Alexander Vvedensky’s An Invitation for Me to Think (NYRB Poets; with Eugene Ostashevsky), winner of the 2014 National Translation Award. He has received fellowships from the NEA, the NEH, and NYFA. In the 1990s, he co-founded Ugly Duckling Presse where he edited and designed books, periodicals, and ephemera for more than twenty years. As of 2022, he is editor of World Poetry Books, a nonprofit publisher of poetry in translation. He teaches translation and book arts at Columbia University’s School of the Arts.

"Matvei Yankelevich is an unrivaled cultural provider for those who want to know about the neglected poets of our turbulent times. His translation of Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms (Overlook TP, 2009) was a major event recognized by the TLS and the Guardian. In his own writing, his humor is at once playful and dark: “My work is simply writing on the page. There is no more depth. Where there is depth it gets too dark to see. Some days I feel like seeing no one.” The logic of these lines is discovered through the poet’s attention to words. That’s what elevates Yankelevich’s seemingly casual poetry into another realm of consciousness."
—John Yau & Albert Mobilio, Hyperallergic [review of Alpha Donut]

"The text seems fluid, reordering itself in one’s mind and I often want to question my own takes as I read. Each poetic maneuver, each arrangement of lines is deft, seemingly executed without effort."
—Martha Ronk, Constant Critic [review of Some Worlds for Dr. Vogt]

"Peppered with tiny, untitled missives that read like melancholy jottings on scrap paper (“stay away from me/ bar dog/ I’m trouble”), Yankelevich’s is the work of a poet as much in love with language and conversation as he is with the world."
Publisher’s Weekly [review of Alpha Donut]

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