Words Apart and Others by Jonas Mekas
Translated from Lithuanian by Vyt Bakaitis.
Words Apart and Others brings poems spanning three decades of Jonas Mekas's career (1967-1998) to English audiences for the first time.
The book opens with a timely and discerning preface by poet Anne Waldman.
“In his poems, Jonas Mekas, the legendary filmmaker and artist, takes a Dantean journey down through the circles that surround the self. And like Dante, instead of seeing horizontally from some fixed place to the horizon, Mekas sees vertically, but from the lit world into the depths of experience. Besides enacting a vertiginous examination of the meaning of a life, the striking verticality of his lines functions like an auger “going / deeper, / deeper / in.”
“Just like his films, Jonas Mekas’s poems hold his dignity, their pace unfolding as the poet looks down at mountains from a plane. Later he’s a bit of an actor sitting on the shore, anticipating darkness, uses ‘soul’ as singular, remembers being little and those old friends and then it is day, bright yellow and he is beginning again. The colors here are true, the experience is so real. Mekas’s poems are a plain joy to read, timely and refreshing like a perfect glass of water.”
In the Rail
- An interview with Jonas Mekas.
- An exhibition of Jonas Mekas’s work reviewed.
- More articles by Jonas Mekas.
Jonas Mekas is the widely renowned filmmaker of radical means. And while his first book of poems, published seven decades ago, has established itself as a classic, he continues to maintain a proliferating, vigorous presence in Lithuanian letters. A new book of poems he has written in English, The Book of Her, is soon to appear.
Vyt Bakaitis, the translator, has published two books of poems, City Country and Deliberate Proof, as well as the anthology he compiled and translated, Breathing Free/Gyvas atodūsis, which draws on some 200 years of Lithuanian verse.
Anne Waldman, poet, performer, editor, cultural activist, is the author most recently of Trickster Feminism (Penguin, 2018), Extinction Aria (Pied Oxen, 2017), and Voice’s Daughter of A Heart Yet to be Born (Coffee House Press, 2016). She is a Professor of the Practice for Brown University’s Arts Initiative Program in 2018. She is a Guggenheim recipient, holds a lifetime achievement award from the Before Columbus Foundation, and has received the USA PEN Center Award for her magnum opus, The Iovis Trilogy: Colors in the Mechanism of Concealment.
Texts: Jonas Mekas
Translator: Vyt Bakaitis
Published year: 2018