From the Fever-World

Jehanne Dubrow
  • Review
By – August 26, 2011
The use of a per­sona to stand in for a poet is sure­ly as old as poet­ry itself. The wildest, most inge­nious deploy­ment of the method in the 20th cen­tu­ry was by Fer­nan­do Pes­soa, the bril­liant Por­tuguese writer who wrote much of his finest work under var­i­ous het­eronyms. Jehanne Dubrow’s fine new col­lec­tion, From the Fever-World, owes a debt to Pes­soa and the great game-play­ers of post­mod­ernism— Borges, Calvi­no, Nabokov, Cor­tazar. At the begin­ning of the book is a map of AlwaysWin­ter, the imag­i­nary Pol­ish town’ where, we are told in the translator’s note that appears at the end of the book, Ida Lewin (or some­one like her)’ lived. The some­one like her’ is a clas­sic post-mod­ern wink, yet for the most part this book relies on the old­er poet­ic tricks of dar­ing metaphor and force­ful, orig­i­nal lan­guage. Dubrow does offer sev­er­al ver­sions” of the same poem, as though pre­sent­ing dif­fer­ent trans­la­tions of a sin­gle orig­i­nal. Lewin, as con­ceived by Dubrow, lived in Poland in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, and the book is rich with imagery from
Jew­ish fam­i­ly and reli­gious life. In a woman’s life,” she writes, all lists become her poetry,/so that a recipe for cake/​is just the verse form of desire.”
Jason Myers is a writer whose work has appeared in AGNI, BOOK­FO­RUM, and Tin House.

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