Simon Perchik, The Osiris Poems: 1993-2016 (boxofchalk press, 2017)
The American poet Simon Perchik came to my attention in the 1980s, and I recall my pleasure when he submitted work to a short-lived magazine (Panoply) I operated at that time. The same qualities I enjoyed then present themselves in The Osiris Poems, whose title takes its name from the poetry journal Osiris, and includes all of Perchik’s poems appearing there over a twenty-three-year period. Although widely published (hundreds of poems, twenty-two books), including regular appearances in Stand, he is nevertheless not as well-known or appreciated as he should be inside established academic networks, even in the US.
His poems ‒ lyrics averaging under twenty lines in length, none with titles ‒ are almost always challenging, at times unyielding, and not like anyone else’s that I can think of, although it is appropriate to set him within the tradition represented by Emily Dickinson: demanding poetry that is finely, even zealously, sculpted, and which places a considerable burden on the reader ‒ a burden that is usually well-rewarded. The work of other, more recent poets, such as W.S. Merwin (his early/middle surrealist work) and Alfredo de Palchi, also display some attributes similar to those of Perchik.
Several qualities I can think of contribute to the depth ‒ and apparent stubbornness ‒ of the poems. Perchik’s syntax is, for instance, rarely grammatical for more than a line or two, which disrupts expected patterns and relations; this accents the highly associative connections which often work together in the ...
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