by Héctor Martínez Sanz
In 2000, Eran Eisen published his book of poems Between Us, a biographical versified essay on romantic experiences. I read several of these poems in Niram Art magazine (Nº15-16), 9 years after their publication. More than ever, I found precision of the expression and of the use of language. Eran Eisen exemplifies with his poetry the constant battle of the poem with the word, the struggle between emotion and reason. And it is not casual, as one is about to discover.
Eran Eisen is a genuine strategist of writing. In Present You, his business website, I found a text entitled “Business Writing”, in which he pedagogically instructs us on the use of the expression and language and their consequences on our objectives. This is where one understands that writing can be a powerful tool when properly mastered.
One of the consequences of the writing capabilities is to express the genuine sense of will, at 100%.
Indeed, will is nothing more than impulse and intention, and it is necessary to know how to express its meaning by means of language.Will is “to want something”, but, as I used to say, this does not imply “power” just because we want it to. We must therefore be ready to give, too, when necessary. When we introduce ourselves, the language becomes essential, and this is even more important when the introduction is done in writing. But, how does one express the sense of will?
We should “feel” the written words by means of three values: direction, strength and sense and put them in the correct order.
Not every word may serve for this purpose, because each word has its own peculiarity. The order is also of importance because we can alter what our will confines. It is fundamental that in our writing the values of the words complement each other, without annulling each other, that direction, strength and sense support each other from word to word. The direction allows us to expand and contract the meaning within the words by means of positive and negative loads. The strength is the force of the word, a force that we need to know how to balance and moderate in order not to provoke disproportions in the text and not to hinder our expansion by being too aggressive. To draw to a close, the sense or the meaning is the identity of the word with its semantics, root and origin; these are vital to know to ensure that the message can be successfully conveyed, without any room for doubts, bearing in mind that the order of the words may alter their meaning.
When such balance is present in the text, we endow it with precision, clarity, legibility and shortness. A lazy writing is of no interest, neither is losing ourselves in the word, we do not want it to be difficult to read or to extend it more than necessary. We make ourselves appropriate to our receptor. We give away a piece of information about ourselves and it should reach the public in a straightforward and simple manner, without semantic, syntactical or morphological interferences, errors or difficulties. Our purpose is to be objective.
Hence, I followed the practical advice of Business Writing (which, as a language professor, I was familiar with) and I used them as lens to take a look at the poems in the book “Between Us” where a poetic “I” introduced itself.The result of the experiment was clarifying in showing the style in which Eran Eisen writes poetry.
The first aspect that caught my attention was the absence of adjectives and the strong presence of verbs and pronouns. Whoever is familiar with the futuristic manifestos -among which, The Manifesto for Literature, – may know that it was precisely in this manner that they employed their destructive aesthetics on the syntax.In Eisen’s poems, the syntax disappears, because it is the word itself that carries within it that direction, strength and sense. The same happens to the verbs that are indicators of action, state and process. We can see it, for instance in
When I left
You were sleeping
When I walked
You were dreaming
When I came home
You woke up
It gets even more visible in the poem Passion:
Likewise, we can found similar aspects in the poems The Doormen and San Francisco. On the contrary, in the poems dedicated to New York, the verbs are the ones that disappear. In these poems, all the stress falls upon the substantives whose task is to weave the image as if it were a nucleus and envelop it only by verse.
Nevertheless, together with the precision and clarity obtained by giving the leading role to one or to the other grammatical category, we notice the shortness of the verse and of the poem. The lines become direct darts, without twists, without windings where to get lost.
If we take a separate look at each of the poems, new characteristics emerge, unseen by the reader at this point. I am talking about the effort put in the rhythm built on parallelisms and recurrences, as we can see in the previously cited Waking Up.Continuous paradoxical counter positions are also emphasized, with the precise use of the conjunction. Let us take a look at the poem San Francisco:
In San Francisco
and Messageswhere the suspension marks and the counter position break in and give the idea of the passing of the time between 2 lines and with 3 simple words, the poem Where are you:
There is no answer
Screaming your name
Where are you?
What are you doing?
Are you close,
Or far away?
where the tension is maintained in harmony until finishing up with answered questions, The Doormen:
Day and night
and last but not least New York.
The poems New York and Night in New York made me very curious. In the first one, together with the previously cited counter position, we find ourselves in front of an interpretational ambiguity. Let us see it in full:
Yellow controls traffic
In the corner
People in movement
With an umbrella
Every reader’s questions: “who is in the centre of the city and who in a corner? The coffee or the persons in movement? In this case we notice that the order of the words is fundamental: we rapidly understand that the persons in movement are in the centre of the city, and that the café is drunk in a corner, where the movement is impossible. However, the coffee, the persons in movement, the city centre and the corner must happen simultaneously and this simultaneity is magnificently expressed without more words, just by altering the order of the current and necessary ones.
Likewise, it is enough, in Night in New York, to pay attention to the order of the elements in order to sense the downward action by following a logical line:
To the first
We descend from the fifteenth floor to the street, from the fifth to the first avenue, we travel from East to West, we pass from night to morning, we descend from the sun to the typical yellow painted taxi. We feel the action and the movement without verbs, with the presence of only one adjective, which in New York is also an epithet. All that remains – only names. Nevertheless, we are able to reconstruct the narrative of a man who lives on the fifth floor on the fifth avenue in New York, who passed the night without sleeping and who showers in the morning and brushes his teeth when the sun is already at the horizon, and moments later he takes a cab towards the first avenue. Isn’t Eran Eisen precise and exact? Is it by magic that we are able to understand all this without any verbs? It is enough to read “night” to know that he did not sleep, simply because it names it. Nobody calls the night by its name unless he did not sleep well. Maybe he didn’t get a good sleep because of other things but the poet isn’t interested in sharing them with us. The theme is the daily routine. The message is direct, accurate, short, clear…and it reaches everybody..lyrically.
Poetry is not Business Writing…or is it? The poet portrays himself. And if Ortega y Gasset proclaimed that the objective of a philosopher was not to write badly, so that he couldn’t be understood, we can also say that making himself obscure is definitely not the aim of a poet. Eran Eisen wants to be understood. The poet should not make things difficult by excessive and baroque decorations, by horror vacui, exaggerations in the name of aestheticism. What is fundamental is to communicate, because the language, oral or written, is for Eran Eisen, communication between him and the other. Showing oneself is courage, the literary value lies in revealing oneself and not hiding behind intricate usage of the language. Eran Eisen comes “between us” by means of his word.
Poems translated into English from Hebrew by Eran Eisen
English version of the text by Eva Defeses