Ask Anyone Review by Kevin Killian

As published on

Ruth Lepson’s “Ask Anyone” from Pressed Wafer Press is condensed a la Niedecker and must weigh something less than a postcard. It is the size of a Polaroid photo and features something of the sort on the front cover—actually a product of the camera obscura of the contemporary Boston-based artist Abelardo Morell, “Ten Sunspots on My Door.”

The book also comes with a musical treatment like the old days in San Francisco of poetry with jazz, so that Jack Spicer read with Dave Brubeck’s sidemen and Kenneth Rexroth made a new career out of it. It is still a “thing” here in the Bay Area and the eternally young Ruth Weiss can frequently be seen giving shows with a small ensemble. The East Coast, Ruth, is just as adept writing lyrics that lend themselves to musical treatment, and the skilled players respond to her swinging, modulated voice in a way that heaves everyone up to the top of their game. (The band is called, “Box Lunch.”)

Of the poems, everyone knows I’m a sucker for Ruth Lepson’s writing, and what a delight to have this book, small enough to fit into my back pocket and yet deeper than a well, a complicated blend of refreshment and piquancy. Like her compatriots Fanny Howe and John Wieners she is excellent at love poetry, and “Knowledge in Black” and “Relaxed” have the easy shine of poems you have known and loved for ages, and yet each of them in brand new, not only in fact but in feeling.

- Kevin Killian