An unconventional 'translation' of Shakespeare's sonnets that highlights the homo-erotic subtext of the poetry, with the original sonnets printed beside Rhenisch's new versions. Using modern imagery and forms, but keeping faith with Shakespeare's themes, Rhenisch creates poetry that is sometimes deeply moving, sometimes raucous, and often full of sly humour. But whatever style or form he uses, this collection is guaranteed to make you view Shakespeare in a different light.
Are you afraid you'll leave me in a week, is that it?
Keeping yourself safe up there on the stage? Screw that.
If you are going to die alone - and who doesn't? -
the press will write taht you are frigid,
that you were a model with a look like ice,
because you could not love, wailing
that now all beauty has left the earth - just because
you were too selfish to smile when the cameras
clicked or to schmooze at the reception - for one week.
You get only one kick at the can. On Monday,
it will be some other young thing, just discovered,
hot, the new look, and at the next opening
in Rome they won't crowd around you,
remembering warm nights and cool sweat -
or hoping to. You have a responsibility to your audience.
If you sow wild oats you just pop
up in another field, but if you don't, you don't,
and beauty passes from the world by its own hand.
God, if you're going to cover up like that on the runway,
you sure don't think much of anyone else, do you. Christ.
Reviews (Eric Miller, Malahat Review 153, 12/1/2005)
"Rhenisch's idea is brilliant: to pair Shakespeare with and against his own demotic versions. The original Shakespeare is in each case printed below Rhenisch's take on him. In effect, Rhenisch turns the sonnets into a long dramatic monologue, linking them more clearly than Shakespeare himself did."
Review (J.M. Bridgeman, Prairie Fire, 11/1/2005)
"As they were for th poet commissioned to write the original sonnets, foreplay and wordplay are the means to an end."