Long concerned with poetic invention, the indisputably avant-garde writer Richard Kostelanetz has recently been discovering new language forms not with words but within words. This new collection of his Recircuits is one of several efforts in this direction. From the great linguist Roman Jakobson he takes this classic appreciation: "Poetry has from the earliest times engaged in play with suffixes; but only in modern poetry, and particularly in Xlebnikov, has this device become conscious, and as it were legitimate."
The constraint informing this collection is that the addition or subtraction of a single letter recircuits the semantic stream. For this book he presents complimentary texts—the first, copies of the handwritten pages he prepared for Francesco Conz's Ezra Pound Project (Verona, Italy) depending upon the addition of suffixes; the second, many of the same sequences reversed to discover recircuits revealed through subtraction. These poems cannot be translated, because they exploit possibilities unique to English.
Though Richard Kostelanetz's poetry is uniquely different, his methods are not obscure or unacceptable, acknowledged as they are in several selective histories and encyclopedias of contemporary poetry.