The Arty Semite

Two Poems By Steve Dalachinsky

By Jake Marmer

  • Print
  • Share Share

If you find yourself at an avant-garde jazz concert and poet Steve Dalachinsky is not in the audience, you probably have the wrong address. An unparalleled jazz aficionado, Dalachinsky has soaked in enough of the music to attempt the impossible: to create the same indescribable, musical feeling through words.

But with distinct influences of Dada and Surrealism, a Beatnik sensibility, and a dry sense of humor, Dalachinsky really does not like to be branded as a jazz poet. Or branded in any way for that matter, because, as with real, experimental jazz, descriptions grow stale the minute they are formulated, left far behind the racing, morphing voice. As Nietzsche said, things are dead once you’re able to say them.

In Dalachinsky’s poetry, however, thought flows like a saxophone melody: alive and unhindered, suggestive rather than descriptive, fragmented, and held together with a musical sort of logic.

Dalachinsky’s books include the PEN Oakland National Book Award winner “The Final Nite” (Ugly Duckling Presse), as well as numerous other publications, chapbooks, and liner notes for experimental jazz recordings. His 1999 CD, Incomplete Directions (Knitting Factory Records) features a collection of original poetry read in collaboration with musicians such as William Parker, Matthew Shipp, Daniel Carter, Sabir Mateen, Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) and Vernon Reid (Living Color). Among his recent recordings is “Phenomena of Interference,” (Hopscotch Records 2005), a collaboration with pianist Matthew Shipp.

On June 30, Dalachinsky will be joining me for a performance on the roof of the Educational Alliance on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

In the meantime, here are two of Dalachinsky’s recent poems: 

the synagogue in st. sebastian’s square  
 
photographs of pieces
  of close ups
scab-wiggled shapes
horizontal memories / drinking tea
   eating jealousy
            hands running wild away from secondary thwack
sebaceous schooner scuttle atop
                   stone upon a dead black sea
          awake from pillows of bitter salt  
                 a secular sulker
 
 mosaics of moses
      pharoah’s daughter finds bones to pick
              dimpled flesh aloose in the bulrushes
                    cemetery of darkcloth where ram stood
                         & horn blew
           crystal off shore caught in rigor
                     rigger caught in mast ropes
                                 my people leave the hull & wander
                                                    upward toward the statue
                   & other false idols
                               pyramids not built in a day
                          plague a pully we from bully passed over
                                    growing up a deliverer
                                           never to enter a land of harsh promises
                                                   crooked kabal carved in every nite
                                betrayal of trials & caved in broken columns
                                               contrariwise clockworks blue lady candle burn
                                                                shepherded
                                                cash being able to chemicollage electric self enslavement
                                                                     never having been sold in the market
                                                                          the burning bush burning still
                                                                            
                                                            i am my only son.
 
dalachinsky from 2 fragments and improv 5/15/10
 
                        
The First Cemetery of Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue (1656-1833 )



inside chinatown’s thigh

near the edge of st. james’ cross

by oliver street

& described as “OUTSIDE the CITY”

lies a dark acre of nameless tombstones

a sweet & sacrilegious monument to judaism

consecrated in 1656

cornered by brick

& bridged by steel & clay

the ashes of ashes
the dust of dust
on this cold & dismal ash wednesday.

a triangle of empty benches

the prickly wild berry trees

lining the black wrought iron

spear-tipped gate

some secret inside the tombs

the vacant geometric forms

so worn & final
resting “en un espacio pequeno y solemne

para Shearith Israel”

a remnant of a prayer for the souls

of the wandering dead

who now repose

in god’s new world.



steve dalachinsky nyc 3/4/81=20


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Steve Dalachinsky, Sonic Youth, Sabir Mateen, Poetry, Nietzsche, Matthew Shipp, Living Color, Jake Marmer, Daniel Carter, Dada, Surrealism, Thurston Moore, Vernon Reid, William Parker

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.