Shades of Borat

Surely this cannot be a serious letter. Is the legendary Poetry in decline? I guess I have been out of the periodicals loop since I’ve left UCT and my monthly trawling through the Current Periodicals Library.

Letter from Naeem Murrovitch to Poetry (July/August 2006):

Dear Editor,

I wish to write you with great and tremendous gratitude. I discover your magazine. I thought this America here is full only of television and men who are like women. I am from Pskovia—a small country south of Urals. For us poetry is life! It is sustaining us through sixteen coups, twelve revolutions, and awkward few days when Ivana Lubchenka wash national flag in too much bleach and no one he can remember if is four orange stripes and three yellow or three orange and four yellow. I will tell you the word for poetry in our country is from same root as for loose flesh under woman’s arms and fat in a goat’s —think on this American! Our great national poet, Sasha Michencka—now in exile disguised as Andrei Codrescu—describes poetry for us in his glorious poem “Unspeakable. Unbearable!” as being hung by your nipples from the vault of a cathedral while goat licks honey from your toes. This is poetry for us! Know this: there is no Pskovian child you will find he does not know by heart our great poem of national identity, “Shining, Shining Goat!” This we recite at each of our six Independence Days as we eat goat tail fat and watch our women shake the loose skin under arms as they dance to the music of the boruka! Think on this, you with your little Poetry, Editor!!

I give you here seven of my own poems. In English. You see all are about raccoon I have incident with on vacation in Yellowstone. (The unbending rule of all classic Pskovian poetry is that poem contain slightly humorous encounter with animal—usually goat). Don’t you dare publish American! Unless you want to, which is OK. Zdorov’ye!!


I mean, the whole goat thing smacks of Borat Sagdiyev, Kazakhstan television’s top media personality. Has Mr. Murrovitch perhaps been inspired by Mr. Sagdiyev? Or are the editors at Poetry open to satire? I have found one blog linking to this letter as it the letter is serious, expressing the blogger’s pleasant surprise at how people can still have a passion for poetry.

Then there is a review of Heaney’s apparently new book, The Bogs of Xenu (CAN Press). Google doesn’t return any other reviews for this book; there is a CAN Books, a really small publisher in Saskatchewan (no Heaney on their catalogue), but no CAN Press. So, also a spoof? Does Poetry have a history of spoof and satire?


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