- Bijou, Rachelle
The Office Minstrel: Poems, New York & Paris: 1970's to 2010
Nocturne Editions, New York, 2012, , , 1st Edition, As New /
[viii]-90 pp. Stiff illustrated wraps, Cover illustration, Gustave Moreau, Eve and the Mansion of Paradise (detail). Two-color printing on high quality paper throughout, with 3 illustrations, 2 in color.
The book is comprised of three sections—each evoking the workplace atmosphere of its time—Entrance to the City (New York City, 1970’s), Pointing the Marble (New York City, 1980’s–2001), and Zola Color (Paris, 2006–2010). The poems are loosely arranged in a bright and intuitive order and each section closes with a perceptive end-of-year poem. French words, idioms, and titles embellish and lend a novel spin to the text. We follow the keen observations of the poet as she describes everyday life, la vie quotidienne, like going to the gym or a poetry reading, accompanying a friend to the eye infirmary or attending a film during the summer at Bryant Park. “Not in Service,” a post–September 11, 2001, poem ends with the tough and memorable words “. . . pure and full of dreams, my city and I remain.” In the last section, Zola Color, we get a fly-on-the-wall view of corporate life seen through the eyes of Leda, a woman whom we have met earlier in the book. Allusions to poetic masters abound: Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery and James Schuyler, James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, Percy Shelley, Marianne Moore, Charles Baudelaire, Matthew Amold, and Bob Dylan. Traditional poetic forms like the sonnet in “Chant d’Aromes,” the pantoum in “Pantoum Outlook,” and the cento in “Losing Battles,” are treated in clever and surprising ways.
No Thanatopsis in Bryant Park tonight
Everyone’s thumping and alive
under the open sky
—especially Barbara and Fred
We’re both rotten.
Yeah, only you’re a little more rotten.
No doubt William Cullen would be appalled
by all the people cluttering his landscape
—from “Triple Indemnity”