The Flaying of Marsyas / Die Häutung des Marsyas — a Reprobate / GobQ Book

The Flaying of Marsyas / Die Häutung des Marsyas
Florian Vetsch
translated by Douglas Spangle

Publication Date: January 26, 2024
ISBN: 979-8-88526-355-9
Bilingual edition
Paperback, 74 pages, illustration, 5" x 7"

The fifteen poems in this selection by Swiss poet Florian Vetsch — documentarian of Ira Cohen and the American beat poets, traveller, organizer of cross-cultural books and literary events — are often playful. He writes about beer; he writes about wine, riffing on "A Case of You" by Joni Mitchell; he writes about being invaded by dead poets.

And then he's not joking: he writes about an old photograph of his mother as a young woman before WW2; a poem for the American journalist Mary Colvin, assassinated in Syria by the Assad regime; and then "The Flaying of Marsyas" protests against the frightful punishments inflicted on those artists, mystics or philosophers who challenge the ruling coteries of gods, priests, and politicians.

In this small collection Vetsch covers an astonishing range of the modes and octaves of being alive. It wears its playfulness lightly —"Pff-tok!" says the beer-can, "Excuse me while I kiss the sky" — and then looks at history, at what we also do. Vetsch moves on and we move with him, with a memory of rust like blood staining water.


Florian Vetsch's "Wissenschaft" still glows in my cranium & keeps me going during these dog days...

Ira Cohen, photographer & poet, author, Where the Heart Lies / Wo das Herz ruht

The Flaying of Marsyas possesses a gnomic wisdom; whether referring to "dead poets" who "knock on my door" or describing "the stillness of snowdrifts," the subdued lyricsm of these poems evokes a modern world dyed in classical myth.

Jan Herman, author, All That Would Ever After Not Be Said

Best cover of "A Case of You" since Tristan and Isolde! (If you want me I'll be in the bar.) As for Marsyas, well as the nice man said when my mother asked him why he shot and killed the deputy who was breaking up his still — He just got a little bit above hisself. And I think that's fair, for Marsyas, who mighta known better than to challenge Apollo... But Giordano Bruno is a different story (which Florian Vetsch weaves nicely in). And Cicero, and the professor in Bowles' distant episode, and the others whom we don't remember or of whom we never knew...

Madison Smartt Bell, author, Zero db, All Souls Rising, Toussaint Louverture: A Biography

A cross-over ride of high culture & beat poems full of memories & visions, tenderness & wit, written with today's raging cuts. The Flaying of Marsyas collection delves into history & stories, & celebrates the bare present.

Clemens Umbricht, Swiss poet & translator, author, Das Alphabet des Archæopteryx

He carries the flameless flame: "Poesy especially speaks prophecies..."

Louise Landes Levi, poet, author, The Water Mirror

Reading The Flaying of Marsyas is like taking a pilgrimage through poetry into stirring new territory. These poems satisfy my hunger for splendor and simplicity and my thirst for the mystical and the miraculous. In the end, they offer a consoling verdict on reality. From the "stillness in falls of snowdrift" to the "wisdom and power and art," this is a splendid book.

David Biespiel, poet, essayist, critic, author, Republic Café, Wild Civility, former editor, Poetry Northwest

With the certainty of a storyteller & the faith of a poet, Florian Vetsch's The Flaying of Marsyas reassures that memory is a lens on the future, a navigation between relinquishing & claiming, a letter stamped but not yet addressed. Love sustains, sound transports, relics divinize, &, on a binge of lively poems that celebrate the unsettling & the unforseen, we are warned in Douglas Spangle's coaxing translations. The death of a martyr, a long bake in the sauna, an eye of light cast the future ablaze. "Drive slowly / Deer wander here!"

Caroline Reul, poet, translator, In The Morning We Are Glass / Am Morgen Sind Wir aus Glas

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