Review by Marion Dreyfus

Originally published on Marionís blog.

Why Didnít I Write These Before Tracy Got to Them?

    Category: poetry

    Posted on 9/28/09 at 7:01 PM
    Mood: A-OK

Book review: EVEN BEFORE MY OWN NAME
by Tracy Koretsky



Ms. Koretsky, who has published, apparently, widely in poetry magazines and venues as well as short fiction, essays and reviews writes very deftly. Her three novels must be engaging writ, because her words are chosen with an eye toward serendipitous usage, and her images are sharp, clear and arresting. If she has any notion of plot or narrative, these three must be companionable rewards for a long train ride.

Her work is lapidary, and indeed the cover picture on her poetry volume is of glistening though ordinary riverine stones. She has been widely heard too, though not by this reviewer; a pity, as I imagine her audio poems bring much texture and delight to the already richly textured verses she presents to readers in this Ragged Bottom Press publication. Should quote some, but I'd need to quote a lot of some to make you see how well they work, her poems, her declarations about life in the bend of the Chicago academic, Jewish, lit veldt.

    until...


    /In the back

    /of my closet

    /a black

    /umbrella

    /waiting


One title:

You were a son of a bitch to me my whole life, and I can't really think of one nice thing you ever did for me, except this:

Even Before features shaped and concrete poetry, rhymed, astringent haiku, unrhymed verse, even prose poems that involve and challenge on every page. She dedicates a section of her book to her relatives, probably those she grew up with in the Jewish suburbs of Chicago, according to the flap copy, including a sweet note to her Bubbe, grandma, in Yiddish. And a gem on Melvyn, some male relative. And "Zeyde" (grandpa). Her prizes and nominations for prizes are impressive, but the work she displays merits the fuss. Even though she lives in Berkeley with the love of her life and the worldís best dog.

Is it fair that sheís a terrific writer, poet, performer, prize-winner all over the place, and still has a braggable husband and great pet, in a place where the sun always shines? (Though the people sometimes donít.) Is that fair? Uh-uh. But still, she did it , made it happen. Props to her.

Best thing I can say, um, is that reading these just-enough, perspicacious, sensitive lines, wish I had thought of them first.



---Marion DS Dreyfus urple">20©09