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Book Review

Lucebert: The Collected Poems, Volume 3

by Lucebert 

NEWPAGES BLOG, July 11, 2022

Reviewed by Jason Gordy Walker

"Book Review :: Lucebert: The Collected Poems, Volume 3"

The ranting, mischievous, socially engaged verse of Lucebert, the great Dutch poet, painter, and anti-apartheid activist, dazzles (and dizzies) the reader with surrealistic images, quick tone shifts, puns, and jazzy philosophical musings. Published by Green Integer in a pocket-sized, bilingual edition, Volume 3 shows Lucebert, a well-known affiliate of experimental writing movements De Vijftigers and CoBrA, on top of his game. See this tercet from the brief, wry “communiqué”:

through logic people get ahead
shoot for kicks at rats wolves riffraff
god is a pet[.]

Or consider how

…always music makes music
rocking ejector-seat directed
at perilous fluffy down
sweet skirt that frowns
like an enjoying forehead

Images morph into more images, mimicking the consciousness that commits them to paper. Diane Butterman’s translations from the Dutch into English preserve (and transform) the poems’ spirits. In “…and tomorrow the whole world,” a poem full of sharp adjectives, the poet pokes fun at class privilege:

…from our snooty benefits we will if need be
weave a temporary bandage for the world[.]

Lucebert eschews proper punctuation, creating language-rivers, reminding us to be wary of the “…little butcher [who] planned to slaughter the whole nation.”

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