"Crisis Lyric"

Introduction to a reading by poet L.S. Asekoff

Tom Devaney, Program Coordinator at the Kelly Writers House
February 20, 2002

co-sponsored by The American Poetry Review

L.S. Asekoff's dark writings are honest, vulnerable, and luminous. These wide-ranging, edgy, and musical poems are imbued with the feeling of philosophical discourse.

There are many characters and persona who address us in Asekoff's poems. The tragic-comic monologues often bring us into intense personal contact with the minds of the damaged and brilliant characters. One says, "& there's a hole/in my left shoe/stuffed with a page/of Aristotle's Essay/on Morals/which contains/a grammatical error/in the first line."

Later he says, "the impeccably dressed/electrician, said,/'We're out to get you/because you know/we're frauds.'" The character, onto the fact that he is a character says, "I am not an aesthetic object,/some kind of pitiful thing/you can play with."

The crisis in Asekoff's lyric poems often stems from the problem of using language to chase and clear up language. As Lou writes, "Trapped by his 'wanderlust/nervousness,' "The desperation/ of trying to give shape to/obsession..."

There's no escape from the labyrinth of language, except to write and build more of the labyrinth. He writes, "the black horse drinks from the lily of light,/'til someone says in a language that finally makes sense/to us/I'm blind, give me an eel, I'll eat it,/give me a snake, I'll eat it..."

The language and talk give structure and confer meaning, but they're also the things, which frustrate the drive as well. One character poignantly asks, "Is that blasphemy? No wonder devils/believe in angels—we all need reliable witnesses".