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Reading Heine.

Three Poems


1. In the bitterness of this self-preoccupation
you have contrived exquisite paradoxes
which are clinched with easily deployed rhymes.

And the feeling is that you suffer exhibitionistically
for the sake of some remarkable expression
and an artfully contrived self-exposure.

2. But should I not think of your selflessness
and the courage to conceive that other,
I must somehow modify the experience of self,
succumbing less to the brutalism of ego
than a failure to reach beyond a habituation to exile.

3. That which remains unsaid
is best reserved for the rhyme
which has become inadmissible,
but for which we gape like fish.

Tom Lowenstein was born near London in 1941 and educated at Cambridge. He has worked since the mid-1960s as a teacher. Between 1973 and 1989 he recorded materials deriving from intermittent residence in an Inupiaq (north Alaskan Eskimo) village. Previous publications include three books of poetry: Filibustering in Samsara (The Many Press), Ancestors and Species: New and Selected Ethnographic Poetry (Shearsman Books), and Conversation with Murasaki (Shearsman Books). His three studies of Point Hope are The Things that Were Said of Them (University of California Press 1990), Ancient Land: Sacred Whale (Bloomsbury, Farrar Strauss and Harvill, 1993-2001) and Ultimate Americans: Point Hope, Alaska 1826-1909 (University of Alaska Press, 2009). The Fortnightly Review published his memoir After the Snowbird Comes the Whale in parts as our 2018 serial.

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