The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi
The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi is a poem-novel about the relationship between a pirate and a parrot who, after capturing a certain quantity of prizes, are shipwrecked on a deserted island, where they proceed to discuss whether they would have been able to communicate with people indigenous to the island, had there been any. Characterized by multilingual punning, humor puerile and set-theoretical, philosophical irony and narrative handicaps, Eugene Ostashevsky’s new large-scale project draws on sources as various as early modern texts about pirates and animal intelligence, old-school hip-hop, and game theory to pursue the themes of emigration, incomprehension, untranslatability, and the otherness of others.
Upcoming events for The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi with Eugene Ostashevsky:
Mon, April 3, 4:30pm at Princeton University, 249 East Pyne, Princeton, NJ, hosted by the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures
Tues, April 4, 7:30pm at Greenlight Bookstore, 686 Fulton St., Brooklyn, NY, with Elif Batuman
Wednesday, April 5, 8pm at The Poetry Project, 131 E 10th St., New York City, with Uljana Wolf
Thursday, April 6, 7pm at Hunter College, 695 Park Avenue, New York City, hosted by the Department of Classical and Oriental Studies
Wednesday, April 12, 7pm, at Grolier Poetry Book Shop, 6 Plympton St., Cambridge, MA
Thursday, April 13, 12pm, at the Barker Center, Harvard University, 12 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA
This isn’t just a book: It is a multi-vocal orchestra. It performs some of the most playful, surprising, and innovative musical effects of our day. Yet at the center of all this play there is the large emptiness of loss. Loss, the mother of metaphysics.
In this collection language is examined and experienced as a source of bafflement, tragedy, and pleasure. The poems are deftly woven from a variety of languages, traditions, and texts. Ostashevsky, whose first language is Russian, spins his song from the displacements and discoveries of his own voyages for our reading pleasure...Despite being buffeted by storm and shipwreck and existential questions, our pirate and parrot never lose their balance. Neither does Ostashevsky in this hilarious, deeply serious, collection.
—Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr., Hyperallergic
Language of every kind is at the heart of Ostashevsky’s little book of prose-poetry...This poetry captures emotional realities with moments of fleeting lyricism.... The ridiculous jokes and whimsical soundscapes are all part of the poet’s exploration of unfathomable, tragicomic human experience.
—Phoebe Taplin, Russia Beyond the Headlines
The Russian-American author of this deliciously sardonic parable of the non sequitur can find no assurance that things in this world happen for a reason. On the contrary, his is a poetic universe where, to cite Wittgenstein, "everything we see could always be otherwise."
—Marjorie Perloff on The Life and Opinions of DJ Spinoza
The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi deals with the fundamental inability of language as means of expression, utilising a lively and irreverent sense of humour in making the most complex of subjects accessible and familiar with a clarity and irony which warms and disconcerts simultaneously. There is a lyric and musical quality to his poetry informed by the traditions of jazz, early New York Music Hall comedy and the pirating life.
—Eve Richens, The Quietus