David Silverstein was a well-liked and well-respected figure on the Anglophone poetry scene in Tokyo from the late 1980s until his premature and entirely unexpected death in the spring of 1992.
His special forte was the prose poem, which he used in a virtuosic way to provide the reader with – among other things – portraits of strangers on trains, glimpses into the private lives of bricks, mossy walls, bread crumbs and other inanimate objects, reflections on the relations between seer and seen, observations arising from walks in the streets of Tokyo, and explorations of fantasy and its limits. His writing is fast-moving, improvisatory, psychologically astute, often very funny, sometimes desolating in its awareness of the costs of solitude, but also capable of articulating moments of uncomplicated happiness.
Whispers, Sympathies, & Apparitions: Selected Poems, edited and with an afterword by Paul Rossiter, reprints a substantial selection of poems from Silverstein’s three books.
July 2014. Paperback. 102 pages. 8.5 x 5.5. ISBN 978-4-907359-04-1.
Click here to buy Whispers, Sympathies, & Apparitions from the London Review Bookshop.
from THE WALK (Ubud, Bali)
It is midday’s sun and nothing sane is out. I have chosen this time to hike the high path above the river I saw from the bridge and which goes through the terraced ripple of the rice paddies and high wild grass swaying like dry water. The stalks encourage me. Go deeper.…
The path climbs. I head for the house in a cluster of trees. Luka is there. Luka gives me tea. She gives me welcome. I do not know her. I know her. There are books here I would have chosen for myself. And the mats and the art and the view, the posture taken by the house. I don’t remember calling ahead. Is it possible that my heart leads a private life of its own, a life even I don’t know?…
A chicken struts at my feet. Above me a bee enters the home it has made in a wooden dragon hanging by a single thread. The wind playfully making it a little harder.