Vyt Bakaitis, poet and eminent translator from the Lithuanian, has gathered here poems from the past decade. This new collection, REFUGE & OCCASION, pursues several strands that ultimately braid together with characteristic freedom of shape and music whereby the requirements of the utterance design its flow. He writes: “Strange all I found and still carry/ what I remember left me to wonder.” Elegies and lyrics of erotic loss, tensely noted and feelingly unwound form one strand. The poet turns his eye and heart to cruder disappointments of the current political moment in several longer poems that aggressively explore the failures of human action and illusory consolation. “What’s real is the fact” the poet wryly notes. There are also several poems to honor significant occasions of being moved and sustained by art along with a number of outright odes to his muses. The charged enigma that winds through all of the poems, however, is the tension of enduring spiritual stasis and uncertainty. “Let’s pull out some maps. There are none” is where the poet starts. The mystery of life’s refusals is countered by a profound sense of the flow willing “times curvature to catch” both in memory and in ecstatic instances that “the wild wave struck … young as the storming moment.”
Poetry. Jewish Studies.
Vyt Bakaitis has published four books of poems, including con/structs, a book of visual poems and photographs (limited edition, Arunas K. Photo+Graphics, NYC). He recently completed The Antigone Play, adapted from Sophocles by way of Hölderlin's renowned German version, and is currently editing Transcience: or, Exile Tours, his assorted readings in lyric poetry from various cultures. Bakaitis' many works of translation include four books of original poems by renowned filmmaker Jonas Mekas, as well as XL Poems by Julius Keleras (Spuyten Duyvil, 2002). He recently edited Message Ahead: Poets Respond to the Poems of Jonas Mekas (Rail Editions, 2019). Bakaitis is a native of Lithuania and has lived since 1968 in New York City.