Commentaries - October 2012

Translated from Spanish by Anna Rosen Guercio

Ostriches in flight —there are women whose words are ash trees. Shadows
stitch together harbors of air. In the midst of the stampede, a hand rests on the
arc of a kneecap. Cigar and smoke. Rosy cypress sleep. The scent reaches far
beyond the border. From the bureau — power, smile destroyed/ ocher
temptation, strophic enjambed body. Vestibule.

See where the castaways sing. From the southern corner of the eye —water of
memory— the leaden tone of cold. One could be dusky cognizance, furious
advance party of the human hounds, but the vortex holds back rebellion. Even
the sweater drips. And between the winter of
onethousandninehundredseventytwo and the predictions for
twothousandtwelveendofthetheworld one day and the next. Grammar of
Babylonia. Descent.

Candy and one ant. Brief asthma attack. Legs run silky over a little finger. This
landscape is not political: hollow, center of bullet or poem. Two walls make a
wasteland in between. Mint, the candy is mint-flavored. Footprint.

On both sides of the road —unstable eyelids, 2mg of lozam— the surface of
things: steel piping, mosaics (opus tessellatum), synthetic fabric in an abstract
style. Pained language. Chromatic monopoly. All nude body kills theory. Rotate
space. Sky.

A point a particular point a point a point evading its own point a point that
reveals another point the point that annihilates its shadow a point the point
right on point:

Rain on penumbra. Fur and gaunt. Daydream and notes in outbreak of
murmurs. Sustaining wound. At the stroke of a swift sound —sky open over
body, tongue— particles of prussian blue. Slippage at the edge of the mouth.

Flying into the eye, black petrel. Walking along a clearly delimited cliff. Hills,
clouds, boreal forest. Woman undressing on a frozen bed. Beneath the folds of
her clothing a constellation of sleet. Hamstrings burn. Barbera or Bonarda, a
strong taste in the mouth. Edge.

In the sessile body of a leaf, scarcely attached, the stratum of the world shines.
An audible flow. Inflections sustained by insinuation —an amazonian canopy
in the middle of the room. Ants always infer the state of things. The intensity of
one figure inside another, the lightbulb’s whine, the tone deaf whistling. The
beer falls to the floor. Tokonoma.

Ash wood chest, natural and geometric motifs in perfect symmetry. Adjustable
legs for lifting it off the floor, lock and key, handles on the sides for easy
transport. Period: Eighteenth century. No one will forget the color of the
bracelet. The large-scale economy destroys will. A man announces his
disappearance. Trill.

Bony angles, shapes and slope from which the ritual stems. Who fears the air.
Fissure where it is. Polished door. Still lifes, tobacco smoke. Crossing. A poem
is a metal file a leap day a March 31st a mindset a pine forest. Air, saturated
lungs. Oxygen to supply the body. Furs pulled close against the wind. Cage.

A point, black umbrella, pen with blue ink, directions not to think about death,
a dry blood stain, cadmium scrawl on cotton, arc with systematically repeating
motifs —mountain carnation or marsh marigold. All the potential of looking:
festering wound man’s nuptial back arousing thickness of lower lip rope of ash
wood drifts back and forth mother of pearl fire opal daylight on the scene
movement and traces.

Jubilation and adoration in parentheses. Above the long hair of that woman,
seen in Baden-Baden, a galaxy hangs. No satellite rings. No saintly crown.
Aftershock. Pealing bells (no ecclesiastical province) whisper a half-truth. White
and cracked. The lips. We need a new password to get back to the world in
time. While the word appears, she draws a spiral in the water. Resplendence.

Cars circulate in an inch and a half. Split space. A dog barks in the distance.
Tinsel. Blueberry muffin and chocolate chips. Synthetic happiness pill. It
wasn’t just the swinging of cumbia salsa samba. Hinge between realities, "look
at your iridescent body, iridescent bluegreenpurple.” Language. Territory for
the emergence of parks cityscapes rehabilitated hillsides of houses with metal
roofs nucleic stones sacrificial spaces. Boxes and wrapping, vital space inch
and a half. Nation.

 [NOTE. Born in Mexico City in 1972, Rocío Cerón is a multi-faceted poet & performance/video artist whose work cuts easily across several genres. Of the larger work, Diorama, from which the preceding sequence was excerpted, she writes: “Questioning. Above all else. Understanding the world's simulations. Its woven texture. A diorama is a fragment, a vision that condense, cuts, segments, halts. This book emerges from the collector's path. Travel poem. Poem interchangeable where powers are interconnected: verses that do not die, but are transformed. Diorama is also sound, knot and jumble, convergence of syllables. Diorama is breath. Air unfolding itself over the landscape, scenery, linguistic taxidermy. This. Poetics inscribed on the border of recounting and delirium. Collection and phrasing. Driven by desire. Questioning in its purest form.” A bilingual edition of Diorama is being published later this year by Brutas Editoras, Chile, in conjunction with McNally Jackson in New York.]

Over 70 items, Russian poems and articles, in Jacket 36

Russian poster
Russian poster

Editor: Peter Golub; Co-editor: Tatyana Golub
[»»] Peter Golub: A New Beginning: The Young Post-Soviet Poets

From Peter Golub’s Introduction:
These poets are both the catalysts and the products of a paradigm shift in Russian letters. They came of age when the traditional institutions of the Soviet Union no longer existed or when these institutions were undergoing heavy revision during perestroika.
These poets have an inclusive approach to poetry, and this has often made their older colleagues suspicious of whether the writing counts as poetry at all. Hence, many of these authors are polemicists, whose main goal is to broaden the possibilities of poetry — to expand the definition of poetry. Today, there is a tumultuous atmosphere in Russian poetry, and if you are like me, then this is a good thing.

[»»] Peter Golub: Справочник: Who is Helping the New Russian Poetry?
[»»] Interview: Mikhail Aizenberg in conversation with Peter Golub
[»»] Oleg Dark: On Anastasia Afanasieva Tr. Marian Schwartz
[»»] Anastasia Afanasieva: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Olga Livshin: Nina Iskrenko (1951–1995): Lyricism at the End of an Era
[»»] Nina Iskrenko: Tr. Vitaly Chernetsky
[»»] Nina Iskrenko: Tr. Olga Livshin
[»»] Maxim Amelin: Tr. Christine A. Dunbar
[»»] Aleksandr Anashevich: Tr. Vitaly Chernetsky
[»»] Polina Andrukovich: Tr. Christine A. Dunbar
[»»] Nikolai Baitov: Tr J. Kates
[»»] Polina Barskova: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Sveta Bodrunova: Tr. Matvei Yankelevich
[»»] Dmitry Bushuev: Tr. Rebecca Gould and Peter Golub
[»»] Danila Davydov: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Alexei Denisov: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Nastya Denisova: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Elena Fanailova: Tr. Stephanie Sandler and Genya Turovskaya
[»»] Sergey Gandlevsky: Tr. Philip Metres
[»»] Dina Gatina: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Marianna Geide: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Pavel Goldin: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Dmitry Golynko: Tr. Eugene Ostashevsky
[»»] Linor Goralik: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Anna Gorenko: T. J. Kates and Sibelan Forrester
[»»] Mikhail Gronas: Tr. Christopher Mattison with the author
[»»] Julia Idlis: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Viktor Ivaniv: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Vadim Kalinin: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Gennady Kanevsky: Tr. Matvei Yankelevich
[»»] Natalya Kluchareva: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Mikhail Kotov: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Ilya Kriger: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Sergei Kruglov: Tr. Vitaly Chernetsky
[»»] Sergei Kruglov: Tr. J. Kates
[»»] Ilya Kukulin: Tr. Matvei Yankelevich
[»»] Inga Kuznetsova: Tr. Chris Mattison
[»»] Zhenya Lavut: Tr. Matvei Yankelevich
[»»] Dmitry Lazutkin: Tr. Vitaly Chernetsky
[»»] Valery Ledenev: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Olga Livshin: Original work
[»»] Anna Logvinova: Tr. Christopher Mattison
[»»] Gila Loran: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Stanislav Lvovsky: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Mara Malanova: Tr. Stephanie Sandler
[»»] Ksenya Marennikova: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Kiril Medvedev: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Tatyana Moseeva: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Valery Nugatov: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Oleg Pashchenko: Tr. Peter Golub and Sibelan Forrester
[»»] Alexandra Petrova: Tr. Stephanie Sandler
[»»] Andrei Polyakov: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Peter Popov: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Dmitri Prigov: Tr. Chris Mattison and Philip Metres
[»»] Evgenii Proshchin (Egor Kirsanov): Tr. Sibelan Forrester
[»»] Eugenia Ritz: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Andrei Rodionov: Tr. Matvei Yankelevich
[»»] Arseny Rovinsky: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Lev Rubinstein: Tr. Philip Metres
[»»] Anna Russ: Tr. Matvei Yankelevich
[»»] Boris Ryzhii: Tr. Tom Dolack
[»»] Sveta Sdvig: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Andrei Sen-Senkov: Tr. Matvei Yankelevich
[»»] Irina Shostakovskaya: Tr. Zachary Schomburg
[»»] Gleb Shulpyakov: Tr. Chris Mattison
[»»] Aleksandr Skidan: Tr. Genya Turovskaya and Natasha Randall
[»»] Maria Stepanova: Tr. Tatyana Golub and Rebecca Gould
[»»] Daria Sukhovei: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Fyodor Svarovsky: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Dmitry Tonkonogov: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Dmitry Vodennikov: Tr. Matvei Yankelevich, Peter Golub, and Tatyana Golub
[»»] Olga Zonberg: Tr. Peter Golub
[»»] Nikolai Zvyagintsev: Tr. Peter Golub and Matvei Yankelevich
[»»] List of Translators

Performance, reading, embodiment, translation. Time to turn back to Foucault, or forward to him, because Foucault is always ahead of me in his Archaeology and the way it forms and unforms Knowledge.

 A discursive formation does not occupy all the possible volume that the systems that form its objects, enunciations, and concepts legitimately open to it. It is essentially full of gaps, due to the systems that form its strategic choices. From this comes the fact that a given discursive formation, when taken up again, placed, and interpreted in a new constellation, may reveal new possibilities… There is a modification in the principle of exclusion and possibility of choices that results from the insertion into a new discursive constellation.

This to me is a good way to view translation’s discursive formation: insertion, gaps, constellation. There is agency in it, though it is in the background. For it is a human individual/s who “takes up again” or who spur the “taking up again,” or who make choices, even if none of these acts are transparent or innocent.

 Foucault’s words above are my translation. I wanted to free myself from the undulations of the published English translation (p.75 of Archeology of Knowledge, tr. Alan Sheridan. NY: Routledge, 2002) for to me, Foucault’s French is direct. And the “essentiellement” in the beautiful phrase “essentiellement lacunaire” needed a doubling, to me, to reflect not just the sense of fundamental, but of to a great degree. In the French, too, there is only one “principle of exclusion and possibility of choices.”

 It was time spent with the French original that spurred my thinking. I was only able to make my translation after my thinking had been spurred. That’s the thing with the translation market: translations are made relatively quickly for publication, and absorbing thought can take a long time—absorbing and hearing a cadence and how thought’s thought evolves from this cadence, and not just from the words. Constellatory effects, through the body of the translator/reader.


Foucault: Une formation discursive n’occupe pas tout le volume possible que lui ouvrent en droit les systèmes de formation de ses objets, de ses énonciations, de ses concepts; elle est essentiellement lacunaire, et ceci par le système de formation de ses choix stratégiques. De là le fait que reprise, placée et interprétée dans une nouvelle constellation, une formation discursive donnée peut faire apparaître des possibilités nouvelles… il s’agit d’une modification dans le principe d’exclusion et de possibilité des choix qui est due à l’insertion dans une nouvelle constellation discursive. (89–90, L’archéologie du savoir)

Sheridan: A discursive formation does not occupy therefore all the possible volume that is opened up to it of right by the systems of formation of its objects, its enunciations, and its concepts; it is essentially incomplete, owing to the system of formation of its strategic choices. Hence the fact that, taken up again, placed, and interpreted in a new constellation, a given discursive formation may reveal new possibilities…. what we are dealing with is a modification in the principle of exclusion and the principle of the possibility of choices; a modification that is due to an insertion in a new discursive constellation.

The sixties and seventies

Photo: Angel Hair cover: Lewis Warsh and Anne Waldman at Bolinas
Photo: Angel Hair cover: Lewis Warsh and Anne Waldman at Bolinas

When and where the new wave of poetry began: A sampler of writing selected by Jacket editor John Tranter from the 630-page Granary Books anthology of material from the collection of Angel Hair magazine and books edited by Lewis Warsh and Anne Waldman between 1966 and 1978.

Introduction — Anne Waldman
Introduction — Lewis Warsh
Jack Anderson, American Flag
John Ashbery, The Hod Carrier
Bill Bathurst, To Marthe
Bill Berkson, Sheer Strips
Ted Berrigan, from To Clear the Range
Ted Berrigan, Two prose poems
Ted Berrigan, For You
Clark Coolidge, ‘though in should’
Edwin Denby, ‘Out of Bronx subway...’
Robert Duncan, At the Poetry Conference: Berkeley / After the New York Style
Kenward Elmslie, Feathered Dancers
Larry Fagin, Little Hand
Mary Ferrari, Eternity
Barbara Guest, Homage
Dick Gallup, Guard Duty
Lee Harwood, The Seaside
Allan Kaplan, Hey
Denise Levertov, Eros
Frank O’Hara, Two poems: ‘A Raspberry Sweater’, and ‘To John Ashbery’
Tony Towle, Poem (‘The lead drains...’)
Anne Waldman, The De Carlo Lots
Lewis Warsh, Inside Long Treks
Philip Whalen, Coming Forth by Day

Check out that whole issue of Jacket — it is rich with a huge range of varied material.

 Seneca Prophet Handsome Lake Preaching in the Longhouse.  Watercolor.  Ernest S
Seneca Prophet Handsome Lake Preaching in the Longhouse. Watercolor. Ernest Smith. 1936.

[Reprinted from the original edition of Technicians of the Sacred (1968) but removed from the revised edition (1985) still in print. Scheduled to reappear in Eye of Witness: A Jerome Rothenberg Reader, co-edited with Heriberto Yépez, in 2013.]


Musicians (water-drum & horn-rattle) move to places on bench.
Two gourd-rattles, two feather-sticks passed around to two boy-dancers.

                Rapping of long (orator’s) stick (branch) to announce each new speaker.
                Whoop precedes start of music.
                Music stops. Stick raps.
                Orator speaks. (Thanking & prayer to begin it.)

                Old man (Ed Currey), third to speak, puts tub (wash-basin) of saltine crackers near stove. Empty cracker boxes or paper bags are placed near participants & recipients (sponsors) for deposit of crackers. Music up. Two boys dance out to center, crouching, shake feather-sticks & rattles, bob heads toward each other & in sidewise motion. Return to their stools. The music stops. New speaker “orates,” then takes handfuls of crackers & distributes several to each participant, the (three) sponsors, & a few others (named by the sponsors?)

                Whoop. Music. Dance. (Each dance ends with a sound: hmmmmmmmmm or whheeeeeeee.) New speaker. Raps with the stick before speaking. More crackers. Deposit or mouthing of crackers. Whoop. Music. Dance. Rap. Speaker. Etc. This is the over-all pattern, never rigid – toward an actual openness, prescribed as well? Ways of handling the stick vary. Speaker raps for his own oration; sometimes (properly?) slides stick to next speaker; sometimes “announcer” (m.c.) brings it around; shorter & longer orations; hard raps, light raps, staccato, etc. Laughter, etc. At one point new crackers are added to basin; they overflow as next speaker passes them out; they fall on the floor. Occasional punctuation of speeches by light drum-tap. Often at end. Distribution (except for main participants) seems erratic. A speaker forgets to pass crackers. Reminded with laughter. Boy-dancers walk out during one oration. Buzzing of voices, etc. Some joking about deposit of crackers into boxes. Dancers, seated & facing, hold a mute conversation. (Feather-stick in front of face like boy with the flamenco fan in Cordoba.) Two men enter with large cauldron of water for women preparing (corn) soup at the side. People drifting in & out. Time passes. Sounds of Seneca I cannot understand. Three teen-aged girls are laughing in the back. Nobody rushes. Everyone will speak.

                After the first woman orator distributes the last of the crackers, the empty tub is turned over in front of the stove. A male speaker (who may have opened things to start with, i.e., the one I’m calling the “announcer”) speaks without preliminary dancing – followed by music, dance, etc. New speaker (woman) raps. Speaks. (Some participants now drinking coffee.) She finishes, distributes something small to the three “sponsors.” Music, etc. New woman speaker. Avery Jimerson (horn-rattle) goes out, Dick Johnny John (drum) walks to the side for cigarette. Speaker distributes fruit (apples) to the three sponsors. New woman speaker without music (Salina Johnny John) distributes bananas. Still no music. New woman speaker. Gives coins to the dancers, the musicians, the “announcer,” the whooper.

                Ed Currey raps, speaks. Distributes packs of cigarettes. Whoop. Music. Dance. Sticks & gourds are set down on the floor. The “announcer” collects them. Ed Currey speaks again. Voice moving as in prayer. Announcer distributes pinches from tobacco bowl to various participants & individuals around the room who accept it or refuse.


                Adaptation by Jerome Rothenberg
                Choreography by Carol Ritter
                Music by Philip Corner

                Jackson Mac Low
                Dick Higgins
                Susan Sherman
                Clayton Eshleman
                Robert David Cohen
                Hannah Weiner
                Carol Bergé
                George Kimball
                Eleanor Antin
                David Antin
                Paul Blackburn
                Jerome Rothenberg (poets)

                Christopher Beck
                Nannette Sievert
                Bernard Spriggs
                Margaret Williams (dancers)

                Ferdinando Buonanno
                Billy Fisher
                Cyrelle Forman
                Bill Friedman
                Edward Goldstein
                Malcolm Goldstein
                Maud Haimson
                Susan Hartung
                Alison Knowles
                Carol Marcy
                Max Neuhaus
                Carol Reck
                David Reck
                Steve Reich
                Carolee Schneemann
                James Tenney (musicians)

        1. As the audience is taking seats, “poor man music”* is performed. This is the music throughout.

        2. The first poet (who thereafter acts as m.c.) raps for silence with a sounding stick.+ The music stops. He reads a greeting-poem. The music starts again, & he empties several boxes of crackers± into a large wash-basin at center of the performance area & arranges simple gifts on the stage-apron for later distribution. Empty boxes or paper bags are given to the dancers for deposit of crackers & gifts.

        3. The second poet (Jackson Mac Low) receives the sounding-stick from the m.c. & raps for silence. He reads a (thanking)-poem of his own.¹ The music starts up again as he distributes crackers to the dancers & any other performers he can reach. (Distribution may also be extended to the audience.)* After the distribution, the dancers perform an extended piece to the “poor man music.”

        4. When the first dance is over, the m.c. hands the stick to the third poet (Dick Higgins), & the same series of actions (rapping-for-silence, reading, music up, distribution of crackers, dance, etc.) is repeated. This goes on (with the dance segments getting successively shorter) through the dance that follows the reading by the fifth poet (Clayton Eshleman) – by which time the basin should be empty of crackers. Before handing the stick to the sixth poet, the m.c. turns the basin over.

        5. From the sixth poet on, gifts are distributed in place of crackers, but there is no dancing. The music continues as before, except when poets have rapped for silence & are reading. This goes on until the next-to-the-last reader (Paul Blackburn), whose gift distribution is followed by a brief dance segment.

        6. The m.c. now raps for silence & reads a poem of his own choice. To accompaniment of the “poor man music,” he distributes the final gifts,+ after which all performers do their pieces simultaneously.± As soon as each poet or dancer finishes, he or she leaves the performance area. When all the poets & dancers have left, the music stops.

Sequence of poems. (Except for the first piece, which is the introductory poem to the adapter’s Technicians of the Sacred, there was no attempt to be Indian or to read poems on Indian themes; indeed, the point of the event, as it related to its source, was that the carry-over was not in content or in costume but in structure: a way of being heard):

1. Greeting-poem, read by J.R.; 2. First Friendship Poem by Jackson Mac Low; 3. Selection from Six Considerations of the Angel by Dick Higgins; 4. The Meeting by Susan Sherman; 5. Walk I (1st night), Walk III (2nd night) by Clayton Eshleman; 6. Lines Written in Dejection by Robert David Cohen; 7. Persons indicated present their compliments by Hannah Weiner; 8. Song for Beginning by Carol Bergé; 9. Poem (untitled) by George Kimball; 10. Poem for My Mother by Eleanor Antin; 11. Poem for Eleanor (1st night), 4 Games for Eleanor (2nd night) by David Antin; 12. Het up & take yr teeth with you by Paul Blackburn; 13. The Orators II by Jerome Rothenberg.

. . . . . . . .

Be me who

Suffer. Destroy.

Be certain.

Merge a particular picture
Blossom. & open
This surface to clouds.
Be orators.


* [“Poor man” because the sounds are those a person can make with his or her own body or simple extensions thereof. In Corner’s words]:
                “The simplest materials
                and the things your own body is
                                                and does
– claps, slaps, stamps, rubbing and scratching: body – all
                parts, and clothing if any
voices, and all the sounds your voice and breath and
                                   throat may make
             /except words.”

[The rhythms follow the pulsebeat, faster or slower but with its regularity – beats within the group, starting apart, meeting, changing, entering & re-entering, meeting elsewhere, etc.]

* In this case, a broomstick (red) was used. (The Senecas use a broom-handle to announce entry of the “huskface” masked dancers in another winter event.) The wash-basin was also a red plastic.

* The saltine crackers of the Seneca source were almost unanimously overridden in favor of graham crackers (Nabisco).

* The first three poems were designated by the adapter; the rest were of each poet’s own choice.

* The act of finding-each-other (between participants & audience) was the principal departure from the Seneca source. The event continued to change under this impulse, from a situation where community is taken for granted to one where the activity may finally create it.

* In the actual performance the other poets joined the m.c. in the final act-of-giving. On the second night toy flutes & other sound-producing articles were included among the gifts, to give the audience a further means of participation.

* While simultaneities turn up in the ceremonies of many cultures, there is no specific Seneca precedent in the Eagle Dance. The Seneca husk-face ceremonies, however, often involve several simultaneous dances by the masked beggar-clowns – usually while a round-dance is also in progress. The device has developed independently in modern “happenings” or in the poetry, e.g., of Jackson Mac Low & others.