Commentaries - February 2013

Response to Cid Corman in Kyoto

By Carol Williams

Shizumi Konishi / Corman (left) and Daphne Marlatt in Kyoto (photo by Carol Williams)

I am delighted to be in touch with Carol Williams, a dear friend of Shizumi Konishi (Corman), Cid Corman’s wife of many years in Kyoto, Japan. Carol read J2’s recent feature on Corman with pleasure, and wrote me with further details about Shizumi and the Cormans’ life together in Japan. I urged her to let me publish a few of her notes, and they follow. — Al Filreis

I have just come across the article “Basho’s Pheasant” which I enjoyed immensely, but feel I should make the following corrections.

We lived just outside Kyoto for five years and became very close to Shizumi Konishi / Corman, shortly after Cid’s death, meeting her at least once a week, sharing meals and exploring places together both inside and outside the city.  She also came to stay with us on several occasions such as American Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Shizumi spoke of Cid, his family and her own at great length so I feeI I can safely say that she would be turning over in her grave at being described as a “native of Kyoto.” The Konishi family was from Kusatsu, a city outside Hiroshima, and moved to Kyoto shortly before the outbreak of W W II.  As stated by George Evans, outsiders were treated 'politely' by those who were really from Kyoto, i.e. that their family had been there several hundred years. 

Ashbery interviewed, 2013

On February 12, 2013, I interviewed John Ashbery in his Chelsea apartment, and moderated a discussion with people gathered at the Kelly Writers House in Philadelphia while hundreds watched via live webcast. The live webcast, of course, was recorded and here is a link to the YouTube recording of the GoogleHangout video. Ashbery was the first of three 2013 Kelly Writers House Fellows, and this was his second time as a Fellow; he is the only writer, in 14 years of the series, to be asked to serve as a Fellow twice. The previous visit was in 2002. On Monday, February 11, the poet met for three hours with students in the KWH Fellows Seminar and then gave a public reading (also available as a recorded webcast). During the reading he performed several poems from his new book, Quick Question, and read two unpublished poems — one of them having been written just a few days earlier.

My back pages: new PennSound audio and video recordings 1998-2004, plus John Lowther covers

1995, before Ear inn reading with Ann Lauterbach, photo © Lawrence Schwartzwald

Three Collaborations
•"Slowed Reason," collaboration with Piombino, March 28, 1990 at the Living Theater in NY (1:37):  MP3

•Jackson Mac Low's "Free Gatha 1,"  performed by Mac Low, Bernstein and Piombino at the same event (5:36):  MP3

•Ear Inn, January 9, 1988, from Legend with Bruce Andrews (10:59): MP3

Poet of aftermath

Study for bust of Cavafy by Michalis Tombros (detail)
Study for bust of Cavafy by Michalis Tombros, translating dimensions (detail)

But there is one unfortunate difference between us [the British and the Greeks], one little difference. We Greeks have lost our capital – and the results are what you see. Pray, my dear Forster, oh pray, that you never lose your capital.  — C.P. Cavafy to E. M. Forster, 1918

The proliferation of English translations of Cavafy’s poems in recent years has been remarkable, notable even for the work of a poet to whom recognition came belatedly and international acclaim largely after his death in 1933. The first extensive selection, by George Valassopoulo—presumed to be the only one seen by Cavafy himself—remained unpublished until 2009. John Mavrogordato’s versions, preferred by Cavafy’s executor, appeared in 1951; Rae Dalven’s volume, introduced by W.H. Auden, came out in 1961.

Jerome Rothenberg: 'A Further Witness,' for Anselm Hollo

All things possess intelligence, and a share of thought.
– Empedocles of Acragas

1/

I who
am dead
call to
the living
little
brothers
how absurd
your walk
is
unencumbered
& adrift
you run across
life’s
stage