112 pages, paperback
Cover by Nora Griffin
Copyright © 2012
Alpha Donut: The Selected Shorter Works of Matvei Yankelevich collects poems and prose texts written over the course of the first eleven years of the millennium. Alpha Donut rolls out a pastiche of works from several serial projects (such as Writing in the Margin or The Bar Poems) and unpublished fragments that thread together swaths of stand-alone poems. Many of these pieces have appeared in progressive literary journals and little magazines. They are now, for the first time, gathered together in a practical volume for fans and newcomers alike.
Matvei Yankelevich is a wonderful poet - wonderful in the sense that he is not, to the least degree, enigmatic but always simply and humanly mysterious. One of my favorite younger poets, he deserves a wide and generous readership in this land fitfully struggling for some sort of smart redemption. Anselm Hollo
Alpha Donut kept me up all night with its hardboiled deep-cover tenderness. Yankelevich writes the driest bar poems west of the Great Depression and his rolls in the hay with various memes fatales may end up double-proving that no vacuum is perfect, least of all New York in the aughts. His poem "The Tree of Heaven Grows Downward" will outlive the sinews of this paperback. Julien Poirier
I am sitting down to write a blurb for Alpha Donut by Matvei Yankelevich - as I read "True Story", an earthquake that started in Virginia tremors through my kitchen table in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I run into the bathtub with Matvei's manuscript, and my dog. When the earth returns to not-shaking, I have a realization about Matvei's poetry. It makes me happy to be alive. Because every poem is a surprise - the kind of poignancy that hits close to home, and the kind of sarcasm that heals. Kristin Prevallet
Alpha Donut is a book of love poems in which the beloved is language - its stubborn resistances and sweet objecthood, its uncomfortable marriages to park bench and cigarette and city. The beloved drives the lover crazy; the reader is charmed into a clarifying and joyful sanity. Cathy Wagner
I feel incredibly close to this book because, in picturing a life lived through writing, it never abdicates the knot of ambivalence and ecstasy such a life necessarily entails. So much of what I love lives here - Mandelstam's ghost, the doomsday clock cigarette that burns throughout the book, cities and friends, drinks and readings. Yet Alpha Donut's poems are so prepossessing exactly because they're so restless where affinity is concerned. Matvei registers all the ways in which our affection for anything is often mystifyingly the ground of our trouble. That's really why I feel so bonded to this book, and why now I can't imagine life without it. Dana Ward
Matvei Yankelevich was born in 1973 in Moscow, USSR, from where his family emigrated to the Boston area in the late 1970s. He is the author of one previous book - a novella in fragments - Boris by the Sea (Octopus Books), and several chapbooks: Writing in the Margin (Loudmouth Collective), The Present Work (Palm Press), The Nature Poetry of Matvei Yankelevich (Knock-Off), and Bending at the Elbow (Minutes Books). Yankelevich is a widely published translator of Russian poetry; his translations of the eccentric early 20th Century writer Daniil Kharms have appeared in many journals, including Harpers, The New Yorker, and New American Writing, and were collected in Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms (Ardis/Overlook). He has taught at the Russian Department of Hunter College, Columbia University School of the Arts, and the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College. He is a member of the volunteer editorial collective of Ugly Duckling Presse, a nonprofit publisher based in Brooklyn, New York.
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