"Animated Vernacular"

introduction for a reading by John Yau

Tom Devaney, Program Coordinator
April 4, 2002

the fourth reading in the spring 2002 Poet/Painter Series co-sponsored by the Graduate School of Fine Arts

What if Dante watched a steady diet of movies and was completely submerged in all manner of the hi-lo late last century?

John Yau's new collection "Borrowed Love Poems," confronts the reader with a wide and wild array of characters. Like the Divine Comedy, in Yau we meet all manner of unrepentant madmen and women, all manner of peace makers and other folks just blown to pieces.

Each character, line and poem forge ahead in the most subtle, absorbed and artful kind of connections, semantic and otherwise.

Many poems such as "I Was a Poet in the House of Frankenstein," (which I first read and re-read many times in 1999) are a collection of characters and connections, which absorb everything in their theater of uninterrupted and rollicking play.

Yau has at his disposal an abundance of stylistic devices, which variously show poetry's roomy nature and ability to absorb all other media. From movies, music, painting, and 'storied fibs piled high,' Yau's animated vernacular translates the familar all around us from "that cold/hard glue some zealots/ still call the world."

Yau's love of language and precise and animated surfaces are utterly convincing and pleasurable.