Wearing my influences beneath my sleeve

Randoplh Pfaff wrote a great review of my new book over at Apt. Aside from all the nice things he has to say about the work, he makes a fleeting comparison to two of my favorite poets:

“There are reminders here of the imagery of Paul Celan and Mina Loy, certainly, but Stucky’s consistency of thought creates a throughline of loss and reconciliation—and more than anything else, the vast space in between the two—that is all his own.”

It’s always gratifying when someone else can identify my influences… I’ve been an admirer of Loy’s poetry for a number of years now, and Arthur Cravan is somewhat of a spirit animal for me. But even more so, Paul Celan has been a major influence on the standard I hold poetry to… In fact, shortly after I began reading him in graduate school, one of his poems moved me so deeply through its resonance with both death and poetry (at a time when I was pursuing an MFA while working as an undertaker), that I had a line from it tattooed on my upper right pectoral. Here’s a picture of the messy-somewhat-DIY work, taken just after the tattoo was completed (about 7 years ago), while sitting in my kitchen:

And here is the poem in its entirety, translated from the German by Michael Hamburger:


Nocturnally pouting
the lips of flowers,
criss-crossed and linked
the shafts of the spruces,
turned grey the moss, the stone shaken,
roused for unending flight
the jackdaws over the glacier:

this is the region where
those we’ve caught up with rest: 

they will not name the hour,
they will not count the flakes
nor follow the stream to the weir.

They stand apart in the world,
each one close up to his night,
each one close up to his death,
surly, bare-headed, hoar-frosted
with all that is near, all that’s far.

They discharge the guilt that adhered to their origin,
they discharge it upon a word
that wrongly subsists, like summer.

A word – you know:
a corpse.

Let us wash it,
let us comb it,
let us turn its eye
towards heaven.