Amiri Baraka’s Introduction to Space and Other Poems


A New Wave Rushes Toward Us

Eliot Katz’s Space, his second book, ought to make him instantly famous, it is that good. But even if it does not make his name formidable today, there is no doubt that it will be a huge building block for his doubtless preeminence as a poet in the very near future. The reason I am making such a broadly celebratory statement is that I have followed the development of “E. Katz’s” work for the last five years or so. In that time he has published in many little magazines as well as publishing a 1st volume, Thieves at Work. What has marked all of his work is a determination to get to the bottom of…the essence of…what we…all of us…are doing with our lives, and why.

Poems like the Dinosaur poems that pose to us our contribution to our own not-fantastic extinction, or the semi-homage to grim New Brunswick (as if New Jersey actually could provoke awesome love not just political and environmental disgust) constantly prod and tickle us so that we can see and feel better. And the continuing laughter in and around many of the poems is neither superficial nor forced, it is part of the powerful natural emotional sweep of the work that it can twist and turn us from the deepest tragic sadness to the high hoarse pump of a young laughter, the laughter of those who are righteous and win, the laughter of those who laugh to keep from cryin, or laugh cause the stuff need to be laughed at till you can wipe it out.

The title poem is one of the most important epic poems I’ve come upon. “Important” because it is moving, a deeply emotional experience that uses his whole experience to tell us something so essential and at the core of all of our experience, about our willed future, our history and our collective fates, that there is in the pounding resonance of the whole a depth of revelation that is valuable and its art is in its correlation and gathering of the whole feeling the whole me-ing, to construct a statement, a portrait not only of this one person, the poet, but all of us and all of what impinges upon his/our senses to make feeling, not just talk but what will last even past that, the feeling-heart of all of this going on…like he said, Space.

–Amiri Baraka, 1990