Commentaries - December 2012

Translation's fruitful struggles are not new

My detour on the way to talking about Lisa Robertson's poem "Wooden Houses"... next time!

Lately I’ve been dipping into Rita Copeland’s  ABC: Rhetoric, Hermeneutics and Translation in the Middle Ages, in which she examines how scholars of the Middle Ages considered the works and culture of Greek and Latin Antiquity, and dissects in formidable fashion how rhetoric (argument, convincing, thus invention) and grammar (fidelity, thus structure, tradition) informed and shaped translation, fashioning a kind of struggle between the same and difference, between the authority of the original text (presumed or constructed) and the positionality of the interpreter or translator as a historically bound actor. And, further, how exegesis (hermeneutics, positioning and explaining) in Medieval times moved translation into the vernacular and opened it to other languages, releasing it from the hold of Latin.

What intrigues is that so many of the struggles and energies of that time echo in the struggles and energies of our own era. Necessary, fruitful struggles!

 “…Roman theory,” writes Copeland, “conceives translation [from Greek, of course] as a rhetorical activity: the object of the translation is difference with the source, and the act of translating is comparable to the act of inventing one’s own argument out of available topics.

Feature: A Tonalist poetry

105 printed pages, in Jacket 40

Atonalist icon
Atonalist icon

What is A Tonalist? The short answer is that it is in some (uncomfortable) way related to lyric, retaining doubt about the possibility of engaging in and with that vexed genre … As you read these poems, you can watch as place is found, made, questioned, left and reasserted … There is also a lot of sex and a huge number of amazing verbs … (from Laura Moriarty’s Introduction)

[»»] Laura Moriarty: A Tonalist Where (and What) Art Thou?
[»»] Taylor Brady: Maps, Jokes and Heavy Armor
[»»] Julian T. Brolaski: Five poems
[»»] Norma Cole: from “More Facts” 
[»»] Brent Cunningham: A Note on the A Tonalist
[»»] Jean Daive: “A Woman with Several Lives,” Tr. Norma Cole
[»»] Ray DiPalma: Obloquium and Committer of Tidings: Seven poems
[»»] Dolores Dorantes: from “Dear Factory” translated by Jen Hofer

You write what you eat

CA Conrad's '(Soma)tic Midge' considered, plus links to all audio recordings of the poet reading the work

The jacket of the Faux Press edition of "(Soma)tic Midge"

“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” Mark Twain wrote that. C. A. Conrad’s book of poems (Soma)tic Midge proves that exactly the opposite (opposite in every element) is probably the truth. Eat what you must, and let the food fight it out on the outside. Fortunately for us, the outside is this writing.

The Faux Press of Cambridge, Mass., published Conrad's chapbook, the earliest work in a series he has been writing under the general rubric “somatic poetics.” Poetry of the body, by the body, maybe even for the body — although while the first two effects can be discerned in the writing, the latter of course can only be guessed from it. But I'm guessing this work has felt to the poet to be for the body also. Work that is done to the body.

Before and after the Faux Press publication of the book, Conrad read parts of it at various readings, and PennSound’s Conrad author page features a number of recordings of these sections. See, below, for links to all these — brought together in one linked list.

Artist Zoe Strauss talks about Springsteen's 'Youngstown' and the culture of organized labor

Zoe Strauss at the Kelly Writers House

The artist Zoe Strauss spoke for sixteen minutes recently about Bruce Springsteen’s song “Youngstown.” The program notes for the event, and links to video recordings of the individual presentations are available on the Kelly Writers House web calendar. There you have links to 10-minute presentations as follows: Greg Djanikian on “Born in the USA,” Grace Ambrose on “Spirit in the Night,” Dan Sheehan performing “Matamoras Banks,” Max McKenna on “Candy’s Room.” Anthony DeCurtis on “Tunnel of Love,” Matt Chylak performing “Backstreets,” Nate Chinen on “The Promise,” and myself speaking about “Land of Hope and Dreams.”  Here again is the link to the Zoe Strauss video: video.

Feature: Joe Brainard, 1942–1994

In Jacket 16

Joe Brainard image
Joe Brainard image

From Pressed Wafer:

Bill Corbett, Introduction
Anselm Berrigan, “I remember hearing Joe read”
Lee Ann Brown, “Joe Over Easy”
Tom Carey, “Joe B.”
Maxine Chernoff, “Sonnet: Some Things I Miss About Joe”