Midwest Review of Kafka’s Shadow on Reviewer’s Bookwatch


MBR: Reviewer’s Bookwatch- Grace’s Bookshelf

The link should go to Grace’s Bookshelf and the review of Kafka’s Shadow, but it is the second review on Grace’s shelf. Here is the text as it appears.

Kafka’s Shadow
Judith Skillman
Deerbooke Editions
9780997505146 $16.95 68 pages

I opened the book and thought I’d read one poem then pick it up for the morning – you know where this is going – I read and read and read. Biographical historians may know what Kafka did but only a poet can show how he felt. This is a record of sensibilities through every sensual gift a poet has. It occurred to me that perhaps no one likes his/her life’s work more than a poet does – how else could we receive such proportions of thought and emotion, changing our lives with craft and ideas. These poems are congenial pieces that get the soul of Kafka as a feeling-thinker. I can’t imagine what started Skillman on her search that resulted in such completeness. Why does one writer become obsessed with another? The closer Skillman comes to Kafka’s life the broader the scope and the more she arrays his humanity. In this world, we welcome a heart’s work about literary figures who might otherwise be unfathomable.

As Isaac

No anguish in the offering.
Hermann Kafka’s already lost two sons.
This third one’s not quite up to snuff.

Hermann tries with the old stories,
then the insults, table manners, rules.
Nothing eases the burden – Franz
will be unruly, wild, stubborn
in his refusal to take his place
in the family business.

No angst, and less suffering,
God’s will be done. Yes, let’s
sacrifice a boy who leaves
synagogue before the service is over.

What matter that letter,
sitting on the bedside table,
unread? The boy is as if dead already.
Get it over with, he mutters to the ass
who guides them along
the ancient path crevassed with ruins.


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