23 abr. 2005

John Hejduk, whose lines I quoted below, was an architect and Dean at Cooper Union; a collaborator with David Shapiro for many years. I don't know a whole lot about him myself, but his book of selected poems, Such Places as Memories, was published by MIT in 1998 with an eloquent preface by David. Hejduk was "the first architectural pedadogue to insist that all his graduates, trained in the most rigorous structures course that exist, meet and train with poets, anthropologists, and surgeons to rethink architecture as a fundamentally multiple mode." Shaprio compares Cooper Union under Hejduk to Black Mountain for innovative teaching.

A lot of Hejduk's poems are ekphrastic or meta-architectural. I like this short poem:


The rocking chair is the soul
of the porch
remove it and all you have left
is white pine for the carpenter ants.

Some texts have a "translated" feel, as though they had been written in another language and translated into English. That subtle "distancing" effect. It's true that he is also capable of a WCW immediacy of attack.

How good is this book? At its best, good enough to produce envy in almost any poet I know. The ways in which it is not the work of a professional poet become almost irrelevant. I hate to make exaggerated claims, but I would say that this book is well worth possessing, if only for the marvelously quotable "Sentences on the House."

The closets of the houes enclose the cloth of death.
Death is always jealous of woman.
Death rests under the footings of the house.
The mirrors of the house are covered with death.
Death is disliked because he takes away breath.

With a death a house changes forever.