Poetry News

Quick and to the Gums: Blake Butler on Rauan Klassnik

By Harriet Staff


Over at VICE, Blake Butler reviews the new collection of poetry from Rauan Klassnik, saying, at first, "He seems like someone you’d find lingering out behind a porno bookstore in a jacket and hat, creeping around the dumpsters." And yet!! Klassnik's book, The Moon's Jaw (Black Ocean), "shifts continually between horny and cruel tones, meditative and exacting tones, stiff and puffy images, swallowed up somewhere in the space between all bodies, where nature mutates and crushes you and grinds against itself forever." Blake also took in Klassnik's first book:

I’ve probably read Rauan’s first book, Holy Land, at least half a dozen times. It takes about 15 minutes. The chunks of words are quick and to the gums, kind of like a bunch of pokes to the stomach that hurt for hours afterward. There is a primal quality to his images, like his drawings, that lurks somewhere between murderous and kitsch, blunt in a secretive way, like the colors of the badges on a solider guilty of war crimes. He is not afraid to talk about flowers and clouds in the same space as jacking off and church bells, a strange mix of high romance and lust and intentional infantilism. It makes for a really complicated feel. I have seen his words silence a room to total stillness when read aloud more than a few times.

There’s such a need for this kind of writing. I like the feeling of thinking about award winning poets rolling their eyes at a line like “—Prayers Ought—To Be Castrated—Stand— / —In The Corner—& Taste My Piss—Huge & Silver— /

—Condors Vomiting—,“ and yet I love the sound the rolling of those old crudded lids makes in my own head when the crude word is allowed to stand alone. Klassnik does not need to qualify the image; instead, he stacks. The lines gather together like licks from a gold dog’s stinking mouth, surrounded with a lurking feeling you don’t require naming.

Read the full review (includes an excerpt from the book) here.