Primer for Non-native Speakers

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Kent State University Press, 2004 - Poetry - 28 pages
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"After reading Primer for Non-Native Speakers, I feel like I've just come back from a trip to Russia. Philip Metres's brilliantly compressed lyrical narratives capture the grandeur and the bleakness of an almost mythological country, where a bronze statue of the great poet Pushkin now gazes out on the golden arches, and the swear of a slammed door is more expressive than a mouthful of words. These are subtle, accomplished, shimmering poems that explore the nuances of being an outsider in a language."--Maura Stanton
 

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Contents

Letters
iv
Primer for NonNative Speakers
vii
Matryoshka Memory
10
Elk Island
13
Icon
15
St Basil
16
ReunionInsomnia at the Dacha
19
Olga
21
Days of 1993
23
PostSoviet Sestina
26
From Sokoniky
28
Copyright

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Page v - ... hold. 2. Reading children's stories by Tolstoy, Alyosha traces his index over the alphabet his mouth so easily unlocks. Every happy word resembles every other, every unhappy word's unhappy in its own way. Like apartments at dusk. Having taken a different street from the station, I was lost in minutes. How to say, where's the street like this, not this? Keys I'd cut for years coaxed open no pursed lips. How to say, blind terror? Sprint, lungburn, useless tongue? How say thank you, muscular Soviet...
Page iv - ... I rise, you fall asleep. We barely know each other, you said on the phone last night. Today, sun brushes the wall like an empty canvas, voices from outside drift into this room. I can't translate — my words, frostbitten fingers. I tell no one, how your hands ghost over my back, letters I hold. 2. Reading children's stories by Tolstoy, Alyosha traces his index over the alphabet his mouth so easily unlocks. Every happy word resembles every other, every unhappy word's unhappy in its own way. Like...
Page iv - ... ryabina, found mountain ash. No mountains here, just these berries cradled in yellow leaves. When I rise, you fall asleep. We barely know each other, you said on the phone last night. Today, sun brushes the wall like an empty canvas, voices from outside drift into this room. I can't translate — my words, frostbitten fingers. I tell no one, how your hands ghost over my back, letters I hold. 2. Reading children's stories by Tolstoy, Alyosha traces his index over the alphabet his mouth so easily...

About the author (2004)

Philip Metres teaches English at John Carroll University. His poetry has previously been published in Literal Latt , Minnesota Review, River Styx, Spoon River Poetry Review, Mid-American Review, and Best American Poetry 2002.

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