Sunday, November 21, 2010



by Mark Young

Kilmog Press, New Zealand

Edition of 50, hardback

This is a marvellous book. I feel fortunate to have a copy. Every poem in it is a jewel -- brilliant and multi-faceted.

Let me begin by quoting the first poem, a meta-poem which speaks to Young's method in this volume:

A Philosophy of Ficciones

for Thomas Fink

The history of

history is one

of spaces, some

empty, some filled,

but every one ready

to be re-written.

At Trotsky's Funeral is very much about the re-writing of the writing of history. It is moving, amusing and dazzling, by turns. And it has an extraordinary cast of characters, including but not limited to: Octavio Paz, Turing and Oppenheimer, Diego Rivera, Jorge Luis Borges (whose term "ficciones" Young has borrowed), M.C. Escher, Genghis Khan, Gerard Depardieu, Stendahl, Stendahl's pet squirrels, Paracelsus, Che, Frank O'Hara's Lunch Poems, Velazquez, the sage Bodhidharma, Electra, Mao, Umberto Allegrezza, Septimus Veronicus, Promethea, Zhang He, Lucretius, Eileen R. Tabios and Elsebet Schwarzvogel.

The title poem is a masterpiece. Here's a taste, in which Octavio Paz takes note of fellow mourners Alan Turing and J. Robert Oppenheimer:

A strange pairing
Turing & Oppenheimer. & of
the few people
that noticed them
Octavio Paz the only one
to see that
there was energy flowing
beyond the sexual tension. Ever
the astute metaphysician. “The one
wanted to unravel the moon
by using recursive &
mechanical algorithms; the other
to recreate the sun with a
continuous chain reaction. I
saw the future in them. I saw
several futures.”
Islas en llamas en mitad del Pacifico
Mundos de imágenes suspendidos de un hilo de araña

The full text of this poem can be found here. If reading it isn't enough to make you crave your own copy of AT TROTSKY'S FUNERAL I'll be very surprised.

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