Poetry. Translated and edited by Vyt Bakaitis.
The Brooklyn Rail is excited to present a two-part publication WORDS APART AND OTHERS / MESSAGE AHEAD, from Rail Editions, which celebrates the poetry and artistic legacy of pioneering filmmaker Jonas Mekas (b.1922 Semeniskiai, Lithuania). WORDS APART AND OTHERS is translated and edited by long-time translator and poet Vyt Bakaitis, who brings poems spanning three decades of Mekas's career (1967-1998) to English audiences for the first time. The book opens with a timely and discerning preface by poet Anne Waldman.
In his poems, Jonas Mekas, the legendary filmmaker and artist, takes a Dantean journey down through the circles that surround the self. And like Dante, instead of seeing horizontally from some fixed place to the horizon, Mekas sees vertically, but from the lit world into the depths of experience. Besides enacting a vertiginous examination of the meaning of a life, the striking verticality of his lines functions like an auger 'going / deeper, / deeper / in.'--Forrest Gander
Just like his films, Jonas Mekas's poems hold his dignity, their pace unfolding as the poet looks down at mountains from a plane. Later he's a bit of an actor sitting on the shore, anticipating darkness, uses 'soul' as singular, remembers being little and those old friends and then it is day, bright yellow and he is beginning again. The colors here are true, the experience is so real. Mekas's poems are a plain joy to read, timely and refreshing like a perfect glass of water.--Eileen Myles