Sunday, October 05, 2008


Roger Snell recently designed and published, through his Sardines Press imprint, a short selection of poems by David Hadbawnik under the title Translations from Creeley. The book is exquisite, situated in some curiously dislocated region between chapbook, chaplet and broadside. Like Creeley's poems, the work comes to us with a certain plainness and humility about it, refusing to announce itself in any inappropriately ostentatious way. The book itself is the size of a photograph and runs a total of eight pages — in fact, I was shocked to find the pages were numbered. But thinking further through this, the numbering appears to reinforce the scale of the work itself, work small and in motion, at all times ephemeral and passing away from us. We find this in the first poem "The Joke":

Pockets of energy caught up
in words. To release them
in time, as he had
heard it told; but to
hold their attention he
rushed to the end only
to find their
faces, waiting.

The residual trace of that which passes away, whatever it might be. A sort of presencing. As a whole, a modest whole, this is what the book itself does — it marks the trace of things released in time. The scale of the work, which is so crucial to it, is much smaller than David's earlier / other published work, particularly Ovid in Exile. His "translations" don't demand from the eye and are easy to lose among any number of papers and books one might have stacked on table or desk. But this seems to be part of the project, embedded in both the poems and the design of the book. A lovely thing to have pass, however briefly, through one's hands.