[EDITOR'S NOTE. The following – all but the commentary – comes from selections & translations assembled by Schelling & Waldman that give a sometimes startling view of the poetry created by the early Buddhist outsiders/outriders whose homelessness & wanderings might later serve as a template for the uses of a poetry outside of poetry as such. The link here between experience & poetic form is a marker of outsider poetry as we’ve come to know it in our quest for a vehicle, a book, to bring it all together. (J.R.)]
The following is an essay Kevin Gallagher wrote to introduce an extensive feature on the life and poetry of Kenneth Rexroth. The contents of the feature can be found on the main page of Jacket #23.
Now that his Complete Poems are laid out for all of us to see, we have no choice but to make room for Kenneth Rexroth in the canon. This special Jacket tribute celebrates the work of this great poet, essayist, translator and activist from the United States.
Rexroth’s poetry was not well understood during his lifetime. Born in 1905 in South Bend, Indiana, he moved to California in the late 1920s and remained there for the rest of his life. It was in California where he emceed the famous “Six Flags” reading that earned him the name, “the father of the Beats.” Rexroth hated such a tag and was known for replying “an entomologist is not a bug!” First off in this selection is Sam Hamill’s introduction to the entomologist’s new collected poems and gives new and old readers alike a snapshot of the life and work of the Kenneth Rexroth the poet.
Contrary to the popular label thrust on him, Kenneth Rexroth was a late modern poet, one of the early post-modern poets, and toward the end of his life (which ended in 1982) became an eastern classicist. Regardless of the form his poetry took, it always involved at least one of three themes: love, the natural world, or politics.
Peter & the Analogue World: Peter Gizzi Liz's Hair: Elizabeth Willis John's Trp: John Tranter Bruce's War: Bruce Andrews Cecilia: Dancing the Lines: Cecilia Vicuña Tom: The Night the Lights Went On: Tom Raworth
With its disarming in medias res layout, Convolution is tyring to reinvent the print periodical. First issue includes Giorgio Agamben and Alessandro Petti, Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri, Bruce Andrews, Alexander Barnett, Bob Brown, Tony Chakar, Sarah Crowner, Drew Daniel, Jeff Dolven, Melissa Dunn, Craig Dworkin, Jesko Fezer, Michael Golston, Robert Hardwick Weston, Christian Hawkey, Athena Kirk, Gareth Long, Rosalind Morris, Andrew Schelling, Eliza Slavet, Nancy Tewksbury, and editors Paul Stephens & Jenelle Troxell.
A 2007 interview I did with Nie Zhenzhao and published in Chinese translation in Foreign Literature Studies (Vol. 29, No. 2 April 2007) is also included. Here is an excerpt, mostly focussing on Parsing(1976, Eclipse digital edition, 2006), but also on some of the poems in Controlling Interests (1980).