Reviews

Although there are a few lines that might put off some people, overall this is a volume of poetry not only worth reading, but owning.

The volume should show anyone reading that American poets do not have to born and bred on the shores between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, or on islands that are part of the country. They can be born in any number of countries, grow up there, speak a tongue foreign to us, not necessarily be famous and to write wonderful poetry.

 Gritsman’s views on translation are important ones, and his assessment of the problems in mainstream American translation practice is astute and much needed.

Gritsman, a charming, silver-haired man of hearty build, greeted the audience with a wry joke and began, in a hypnotic rhythm, reading a poem dedicated to Nina Cassian.  In just a few cadenced strokes, Gritsman’s poem evoked more than just an atmosphere of living, breathing ironies drawn from the habits and places that color everyday life: it transmitted a feeling, an intimate vantage point into the paradoxical nature of intercultural existence.

I wish I could convey the sound of the poems as declaimed by Andrey. He started reading them in the original Russian and moved seamlessly into his English translations.

 

Praises

Andrey Gritsman is quite literally a groundbreaking poet. From Moscow to New York is a steep distance but Gritsman makes us aware of the threads that link seemingly disparate occasions. Fresh perceptions create new styles and Gritsman’s is more than a synthesis of two cultures: it is an art that probes delusions and pleasures by a poet who has been around some daunting blocks. – Baron Wormser, author of Good Trembling and many other collections of poetry.

Gritsman’s poems are tenderness in transit. They fully inhabit their evoked circumstances so that their significance keeps expanding and resonating before the quality of attention given over to them. He so quickly is able to penetrate to the depths in the poems, it is as though working with a large, oiled, sharp shovel while the rest of us are working with miniature dull and rusty spoons. The use of brevity in some of these poems remind me of my beloved Denise Levertov.  His poems are “time-flooded” and remind me that whether we look backward or forward in time always the beloved figures are diminishing, disappearing, and the shadow growing from our own foot soles moves among the company of many other shadows. “Constant departure,” as he says it, is our state, and all we can do is stand for our count, make our song, and salute each other. Jeanne Marie Beaumont, author of Curious Conduct (BOA Editions)

Andrey Gritsman, native of Moscow, and living in the US since 1981, is well known as a translator, though he is a practicing physician, brilliant poet, and powerful essayist as well. Poetry from the mind and the soul for the mind and soul. Poetry whose birthplace is an again emergent land where poetry still matters; Moscow on the Hudson has found its muscular, meditative bard. – Angelo Verga, New York Poet, Host, Poetry Readings at Cornelia Street Cafe

Andrey Gritsman’s poems are unwavering in their honesty, relentless in their assessment of contemporary life, and clear-eyed in their approach to human love and mortality. We instantly recognize the terrain he is negotiating. Perhaps only Gritsman, with his unprejudiced immigrant’s eye, can describe the empty, arid landscape of the American West. These are poems that peer into the abyss behind the official public happiness of American life, the compulsion to be always hopeful, positive and bubbling over with good spirits. That is to say: they are real poems, and make no accommodation with fanciful dreams. Read ‘em, and weep. Kurt Brown, poet, editor of several anthologies, founder, Aspen Writers’ Seminar

Andrey Gritsman’s new book of poems is a lonely song about pieces of life left on airports, highways or crossroads of the heart, a dark song of love and ruptures inside the tangled rules of deep waters unifying East and West, the foreign land and the new home, the poetry as a shelter and the poetry as a shield. Gritsman lives fully the dual Pisces sign, heading opposite emotions and paths with the seductive energy and strength. Poems to be read over and over again waiting for the snow to fall quietly and to cover the past illuminating the future. – Carmen Firan, author of The Second Life

I loved reading these moving, deeply human poems – also admiring how they resonated on the page as if they were spoken to me directly.  This is a book to savor quietly and slowly, because there are unforgettable pages and lines to be read over and over.  Andrey Gritsman has a tranquil, determined and grave voice, and its tones are wonderfully varied: sometimes ironic, sometimes nostalgic, passionate, or poignantly vulnerable — and his images stay with you long after you have closed the book.  There are also remarkable illustrations on each page of Pisces: and it’s obvious that the illustrator, Yanvik, was as moved by Gristman’s poems as I was.  These are poems, and a poet, I will return to often for solace and inspiration…Laure-Anne Bosselaar, award-winning poet.

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