Commentaries - January 2014

Thomas Meyer — From the Beowulf translation: 'Fit Nine'

Portrait drawing of Thomas Meyer by David Hockney
Portrait drawing of Thomas Meyer by David Hockney

[NOTE.  After two years in public view (the project goes back some forty years before that), Thomas Meyer’s translation/transcreation of the Beowulf poem stands out as an extraordinary example of the transposition of a major poem from one language or epoch to another.  It’s my contention further that translation, as here, can serve as a form of composition, to make a new work in which the presence of the old is a necessary underpinning or shadow, as in the words of Gertrude Stein, rather than Pound in this instance: “As it is old it is new, and as it is new it is old, but now [she adds] we have come to be in our own way, which is a completely different way.”

Madeline Gins (1941-2014)

Madeline Gins, a poet, architect, and long-time collaborator with artist Arakawa, died this morning. She was 72. The cause of death was cancer.

Stanley Diamond: PRIMITIVE, the critical term (redux)

[In the first & heady days of ethnopoetics I was led by Gary Snyder into a close association with the anthropologist Stanley Diamond, a covert poet & a major thinker on the limits & pitfalls of civilization as a state of mind & of governance.  For Diamond, while we all recognized its inadequacy, the term “primitive” remained the defining & necessary counterproposition “to understanding,” as he put it, “our contemporary pathology and possibilities.”  For me at that time the two key essays in his oeuvre were “In Search of the Primitiv

The Song of the Sewing Machine

Thinking of Reznikoff's “Amelia,” and the long essay on this poem by Richard Hyland posted here, and then, yesterday, going to a sewing machine performance of Elena Berriolo, I was remind of a song sung by Fanny Brice (1891-1951) that I have long been planning to write about — as an extension of discussion of Second Wave Modernists in “Objectivist Blues” in Attack of the Difficult Poems. I hope to come back to this song in the context of Brice’s other work, but for now, just the song:

Poetic Research Bureau

by Andrew Maxwell, Joseph Mosconi & Ara Shirinyan

PRB
PRB

Since 1999, Andrew Maxwell, Joseph Mosconi and Ara Shirinyan have curated various reading series, journals and publications in Los Angeles, often under the banner of the Poetic Research Bureau. For the last few years, the PRB has shared an artist-run storefront with the Public School at 951 Chung King Rd. in Chinatown. Self-styled “Directors,” like canvas-backed Hal Roach rascals in an industry shantytown, they plant a flag in the Northeast of the city, and think back to the precedents.