Commentaries

From the 'Nihon Ryoiki of the Monk Kyokai (An Oral Narrative),' with an additional found poem of praises for the Buddha

Hiromi Ito and Jerome Rothenberg, with Jeffrey Angles (left)
Hiromi Ito and Jerome Rothenberg, with Jeffrey Angles (left)

Translation from Japanese by Hiromi Ito & Jerome Rothenberg

 

It was Sugaru of the Little Boy Clan who was the chancellor of the Emperor Yuryoku, as vital to him as his heart and liver.  One day when when the Emperor was residing at Iware-no-Miya palace and was having sex there with his wife, Sugaru burst into the chamber and the Emperor, feeling shame, broke off his foreplay.  At that moment they heard thunder and the Emperor told Sugaru: Go forth now and send a summons to the God of Thunder.  Sugaru replied that he would go.  The Emperor then proclaimed: Go forth and send a summons to the God of Thunder.  

Modernists and feminists

The 'poem including history' and the 'autohistoria'

This Bridge Called My Back
This Bridge Called My Back

Multilingualism has long been a key characteristic, even a central tenet of literary experimentation. So maybe it seems a bit weird that after all these commentaries I still haven’t found anything to say about the various streams of modernist literature that drew upon other languages. Why haven't I addressed T.S. Eliot's attempted reconstitution of the “mind of Europe”? What about Ezra Pound's (also attempted) translation of Chinese written characters? Or what about the less well known but no less multilingual Zurich Dada “nonsense” poems that drew upon anthropological works, using fragments and phrases from world Indigenous languages to inform their experiments in non-meaning?

Analyses of avant-garde or experimental poetry typically understand multilingualism as a part of the modernist dream of breaking with the past in order to prefigure an unforeseen but possible future.

Nicanor Parra's 100

Disorienting poetry for a century

Nicanor Parra and Allen Ginsberg – Photo Credit: Vivian Selbo.
Nicanor Parra and Allen Ginsberg – Photo Credit: Vivian Selbo.

The great Nicanor Parra turned one-hundred years old last September. Obviously, nobody has wanted to miss the opportunity to celebrate and honor the world-renowned anti-poet. Local and foreign media have been publishing extensive biographies, reviews, and special notes on Parra’s life and work (some examples here, here, here, and here). Also different institutions in Chile have organized activities such as exhibitions and collective readings. The Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center (GAM) installed a photo exhibit labeled as his “first visual biography,” organized an international seminar about anti-poetry, and launched the book “Nicanor Parra or the art of demolition” by the British poet and scholar, Niall Binns. The National Council for Culture and Arts organized a collective reading called “National Parra-phrase” where people were invited to simultaneously read the poem “The Imaginary Man” (watch a video here), and Diego Portales University put together a remarkable exhibition of his visual work, installations, and his famous “Artifacts.”

Rochelle Owens: 'Hermaphropoetics' / 'Brown Dust'

[What follows is the sixth installment of Rochelle Owens’ Hermaphropoetics, a work in progress that continues the poetic & mythopoetic reach of her oeuvre as it has come to us since the 1960s.  For me she remains, as she was when we first came to know her, a poet who bends the resources of language toward the revelation & creation of a new & always startling vision of the real & more-than-real.  As I wrote of her back then: “There is a voice in Owens’ work … like a fierce and unrelenting force of nature. Sharp and visual, she combines a landscape with a poetics, the domestic with the mythic, machines with the organic living world from which arises a construct and a fused vision: poetry and life.”  The photo image of the field on Mars that accompanies “Brown Dust” is a good example of what her work makes possible. (J.R.)]

Tent city update

In response to Homelessness Action Week (October 12-18), the City of Vancouver dismantled the tent city at Oppenheimer Park. At 10pm on October 17th, the Vancouver Police Department enforced the BC Supreme Court injunction and sent homeless people packing. While dominant media coverage of the dispersal from the park has emphasized the placement of people into housing and shelters, it has neglected to give voices to the people who say they would rather sleep in tents than in the City’s shelter beds. This is because often shelters do not have space for people to store their belongings overnight. This is because people do not feel safe from the threat of sexual and physical violence in the shelters. 

During the same week, the Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre, a Downtown Eastside community centre, announced that BC Housing is selling Stamps Place, one of Vancouver’s biggest social-housing complexes. As DTES artist and community organizer Ali Lohan said, it is more accurately Homelessness Action Weak.