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The Persian Poems

The Persian Poems by Janey Smith, illustrations by Robert Kushner, text by Kathy Acker (New York: Bozeau of London Press, 1980), 48 pages.

A CAPTIVE GIRL-CHILD LEARNING LANGUAGES is the image upon which Kathy Acker and Robert Kushner’s The Persian Poems by Janey Smith is based. Twelve-year-old-Janey is the prisoner of a New York-based Iranian slave-trader, who is helping her to master the syntax of sex. “One day,” Janey comes into possession of a book of Persian grammar and, hoping to loosen the grip of ennui, begins to ponder the positionings of nouns. The text of The Persian Poems purports to be a transcription of the waif’s experiments with her captor’s tongue.

When Nabokov wrote of budding, he put an articulate Humbert Humbert between himself and the idea of a stimulating but still-uneducated brat. Knowing full well that Lolita had little to add to the vocabulary of her mother tongue,

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