Some Worlds for Dr. Vogt by Matvei Yankelevich

Lush Taxonomy

by Bethany Kanter

            There is
a world, an image

undisturbed
by speech
. . . . . . . . . . . .
You could say of vision
but you don’t. There

is a world, a repetition
undisturbed
by rhyme.

In Matvei Yankelevich’s, Some Worlds for Dr. Vogt (Black Square Editions, 2015), poems are presented as worlds in themselves. They are premise and environment, all the while leaving the speaker, reader, and subject contented in the perceived disjunction. The language of the poem and the language of the environment found within create worlds in which the duality of language and existence is tenuous and assertive. These poem worlds are not for Dr. Vogt, for the reader, or for the writer himself, or they might be for all at the same time. Each of Yankelevich’s 45 poems envisions singular worlds into which the reader is transported, sent to experience soft and insecure places and their resulting frames of mind.

Maybe
they’re in your stomach, a world you can’t

identify with even as it turns inside you.

Yankelevich’s poems long to find a frame of reference, to find a world that is real and not created by the writer or the dweller. It is this ache that transfers to the reader, who is filled with the buzz of discontent and the desire to cling to the beautiful, concrete objects which Yankelevich kindly provides. This “lush taxonomy” of language hovers before the reader while its threads are pulled until the lines unravel and the reader moves on to the next world. The reader becomes just as eager as the writer to discover exactly what is being unravelled, to discover exactly what it is that fuels the desire to create world after world within the lines of these poems.

These worlds, the points where branches meet
in the removal of depth-of-fields, are—as the stars
map endpoints in a chart of lines—no more
than serifs snapped on tips of invisible letters.

Yankelevich admits to the readers that the things he creates maintain fragile existences supported by letters and the writer’s and readers’ ability to understand them. These structures of meaning created by letters and their serifs allow the reader to communicate with the poet, but that relationship is just as imagined as constellations in the sky. This is the true triumph of Yankelevich’s book: its ability to tread through worlds of object and language without falling into the voids of pure object or abstraction. While admitting the fragility of a poem within itself can often tread the line between artifice and sincerity, the careful questioning with which Yankelevich creates the worlds is so natural, it holds them in the realm of the genuine. They revel in their own existence and let themselves pass away for the next one.

The thing maps a thought, all
mapping corrupted by the new

world. You make an idea of it.
Chart an object from life, cut
it out of it. And what’s that left
in your hand?

Matvei Yankelevich’s Some Worlds for Dr. Vogt puts its poems in your hands and watches as worlds are created, explored, and charted. These poems are uncomfortable; they are words, worlds, ideas, and maps, all beautifully executed. Once the poems are read and the worlds are passed through, the reader holds the poem in their hands and determines: what is left?

-11/11/16