Commentaries - April 2016

Announcement from University of California Press: 'Symposium of the Whole' reissued

Symposium of the Whole

A Range of Discourse Toward an Ethnopoetics

Jerome Rothenberg (Author), Diane Rothenberg (Author)


University of California Press

Paperback, 522 pages

ISBN: 9780520293113

April 2016

$39.95, £29.95

'Angels of the Americlypse'

A fugue reading by Rosa Alcalá, Carmen Giménez Smith, Roberto Tejada, and Rodrigo Toscano

On the evening of October 28th, 2015, Rosa Alcalá, Carmen Giménez Smith, Roberto Tejada, and Rodrigo Toscano gave a collaborative performance of their work in the Eck Visitors Center at the University of Notre Dame. The reading was part of a two-day program, “Angels of the Americlypse: readings and colloquia — new Latin@ poetries and literary translation” organized by Letras Latinas, the literary initiative (directed by Francisco Aragón) of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, in collaboration with Notre Dame’s Creative Writing Program.

Miraculous constructions: Todd Fredson on Ivorian oral traditions

Building in the Côte d'Ivoire. Photo by Todd Fredson
Building in the Côte d'Ivoire. Photo by Todd Fredson

Todd Fredson's award-winning poetry collection, The Crucifix-Blocks, offers an epigraph by Cecília Meireles: "And Babel's workmen, dead by suicide." It's a line from Meireles' poem: "Speech," and it's been much in mind not only because of Todd's gorgeous and generous dispatch, but because I was recently in an airplane, peering out a small oval window into high-altitude blue over clouds, imagining what that fabled city might have looked like completed.

Would a person be able to spot its heavenward tower from a window seat at 500 miles per hour? Would its collaborative architecture be recognizable — spiral, terraced, trapezoidal? Would the clang of weights and pulleys ring from its walls?

Maybe such a structure can be perceived only by listening for a shared language buried inside a collective rubble of memory.

Stefan Hyner & Jerome Rothenberg: Vienna & the German tidiness, an exchange & an endnote

Baldur von Schirach, Gauleiter of Vienna, at right, saluting
Baldur von Schirach, Gauleiter of Vienna, at right, saluting

Stefan Hyner

Too hard to get to, they say
10000 mountains made of tears
life is suffering, so easily said
when all possible hands are needed
to calm the memory down

Jerome Rothenberg

Is something left to say
for those who say it
who come into a kind of stillness
in which a scream breaks forth at intervals
& then recedes
leaving a trail of shattered bones
in back of ear

Naomi Replansky (b. 1918)

Naomi Replansky with the commentrator, 4-1-2016 (photo credit: Charles Bernstein)

Yesterday Charles Bernstein and I interviewed the radical poet Naomi Replansky, now 98 years old. The interview will soon be available as an episode of Charles's "Close Listening" series. Naomi corresponded with Harriet Monroe in 1934 (I have copies of those letters from the POETRY archive) and published 3 poems in POETRY soon after. In the late 1940s and early 50s she published in the communist magazine "Masses & Mainstream." Her book "Ring Song" came out in 1952 and was nominated for a National Book Award. During our talk yesterday she recited the title poem "Ring Song" and several other poems—magnificently. She attended Gertrude Stein's lecture in New York in 1934. She was a friend of Bertolt Brecht in Los Angeles, where she also befriend the group of poets around the magazine "California Quarterly." Her Selected Poems was published in 2012.