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Review of Katerina Stoykova-Klemer’s The Most

October 26, 2010 by · 2 comments

Georgia Jones-Davis


Sus-toss, explains poet Katerina Stoykova-Klemer in her remarkable and engaging chapbook, “The Most,” is Hopi for the “disease that cause different parts of you to live in different places.” Ms, Klemer would know. She is a young woman who has emigrated from Bulgaria to the United States, straddling multiple worlds at once. “Sus-toss … is the disease of not decorating your house … when you are … oppressed by temporariness … living somebody else’s life… makes you hope that you will die soon.”

But reading Ms. Klemer’s collection leaves you in the hands of a writer you know
has no intention of cashing it in any time soon. She is too engaged with the world. Or worlds she inhabits. She projects irony and humor with old world Eastern European ease and at the same time an innocence we still believe in here in the New World. She handles reality like a sushi chef handles a blade–deft, fast, precise. She gets it in few words. “Welcome Last Resort./We meet at last/Plan Z.”

A suicide attempt in a restaurant bathroom stall that so sadly funny (haven’t we all been there?); the metaphor of the spare of tire (I can’t get into my car without thinking about this poem and what a spare tire I’ve been on and off for much of my life).

Ms. Klemer takes on the English language in a conversation sprinkled throughout the book. She questions words that turn out to be smarter than she. These poems appear sleek as the sleight of hand of a Vegas magician at the same time that they hold poetical punch of truth and beauty.

Ms. Klemer is the philosopher poet in love with ideas more than language itself. These dear reader, she might say to us in asides, are the questions you must ask. Why am I afraid to carry the weight? Why are we all like bug-encrusted mermaids found in a cornfield thousands of miles from the sea? Why do words treat us badly when we fail to understand them?

“The Most” is a slender book with that delivers a great big fat wow. I loved how these poems talked to me, like a smart- assed crow, a big sister, a shrew with her hands on her hips, whisper that if I ask the same questions as this brilliant poet, I toowill learn that the answers do not provide the knowledge I need to know.

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