no time like now: Poems (Pitt Poetry Series)
“this is a book by a talented teller who tells his tales with love for his reader, cleverly but responsibly (never cheating literature), the beauty and imagery of the verse providing a thoroughly honest, yet always kind, light by which to view our lives anew.”
People who do not enjoy poetry will often say it is because it is too removed from the now of daily life, too abstract, its rules definitely elitist, its forms a puzzle, undecipherable by the rest of us.
But just reading No Time Like Now by Andrei Codrescu would immediately disabuse people who think this way. The beloved poet, essayist, translator, professor, and commentator (NPR’s All Things Considered) is in the sharpest, most clear and concrete of forms in this, his latest book.
In it, he returns to New York, the scene of his first book of poetry, License to Carry a Gun, a 1970 Big Table Poetry award, to view it unblinkingly, earnestly wanting to find out if its love is the same he once knew, or if it has changed, as in these lines from “nothing is complete now without architecture:”
“For each Fall I missed there is a drought of wistfulness.
I drink my own sweat naked on the balcony I feel lowered in its entirety
By a super-crane operated by Hart Crane in the Manhattan fantasy
Of drafting her skyline that to its credit and to Hart’s allows
For better places for jumping from its heights. How thoughtful.”
Codrescu also delves into love, illness, hate, traffic, technology, food, and even into the logistics of death, as in “moving on we all must”:
“the trick might be doing it without pain
i could live alone
i could make myself at home
with whores and drunks.
who is not desperate at sunset?
dawn is so much easier than dusk.”
There is a solid love affair happening here between poetry and prose. Codrescu plays with the form, but respects it, with only his unique voice, with its delightful droll quality, to blur the line between slice of life commentary, ballad, prose poem, lyric essay, confession, and modern manifesto, as in the poem, “in the zoo”:
“back before google i often dressed in the dark
in somebody else’s rags. Outside I saw people
harvested before their time in the park by flesh eaters
who liked to watch their OS expire before dawn
we know now how history turned out after the great wire
coiled against our brains and turned on an infinity of mikes
history was rewritten and hitler won a million ‘likes.’”
In the end, this is a book by a talented teller who tells his tales with love for his reader, cleverly but responsibly (never cheating literature), the beauty and imagery of the verse providing a thoroughly honest, yet always kind, light by which to view our lives anew.