Celia Dropkin

The Acrobat
Celia Dropkin

Translated from the Yiddish by Faith Jones, Jennifer
Kronovet, and Samuel Solomon

“Celia Dropkin’s lyrics come fully loaded. They are erotically frank and emotionally unabashed, deeply engendered, relentlessly truthful. They are terse and musical, like songs, and carefully constructed to explode with maximum impact.”
—Edward Hirsch, from the foreword

“These remarkably vivid poems could be titled something like “Sensation—And How To think It.” They are carefully made, but the poet allows herself a certain carelessness to say the unsayable. She is interested in violence and tenderness together, as our nervous systems seem to be. There are lovely Reznikoffian glimpses of Manhattan; there are the pleasures of the short poem—the poem passing but lingering. The poems are of their time in the best possible way: you want to be there then, too. Early in the 20th century, in New York, having learned Yiddish or some other language new to you, watching a new age be born as if that were natural. This is a unique moment, still alive. The poems are still alive.”
—Alice Notley

“Among the more experimental Yiddish poets in early twentieth-century New York, Dropkin was significant both for her exploration of open verse as a compositional strategy & for her assertions of female desire beyond the limits observed by most of her contemporaries, both in Yiddish & in English. Dropkin participated in the already active Yiddish poetry world, including the experimental In-Zikh (Introspectivist) poets, while developing more markedly transgressive themes than theirs: sexuality, depression, guilt & longing, fury, violence, even at its limits the representation of sado-masochism & other taboo, once hidden subjects. Her work in that sense is a further confirmation of Kenneth Rexroth’s observation: “A good case could be made for the claim that the best writing done in America in the first quarter of the [twentieth] century was in Yiddish.””
—Jerome Rothenberg

The Acrobat
ISBN: 9781939678065
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