[NOTE. I published this earlier in a nonlineated prose rendering in America a Prophecy, coedited with George Quasha in the early 1970s. Well-enough known as one of three Dickinson letters addressed to an unidentified “Master,” this version, following closely her handwritten draft, emerges (for me at least) as a near-projective forerunner to what would become a dominant form of North American experimental composition a century after her own writing. The result anyway is based on the transcription in The Master Letters of Emily Dickinson, edited by R.W. Franklin and published by Amherst College Press in 1986. It will likely be the version used by me and Heriberto Yépez in our transnational anthology of North and South American poetry, now in preparation for University of California Press. That the full-blown sense of thwarted intimacy here is both surprising and overwhelming is also to be noted, as is the quirky and volatile language that connects the voice behind the letter to that of her better-known poems. (J.R.)]
[Milton Resnick was a very visible and dynamic artist when we met him in the early 1960s, but beyond that he was also a persistent practitioner of poetry, less in a public sense than as a release for ideas and feelings that were a necessary supplement to his life’s work as a painter.
The translation of Likht’s “Every New Poet: Proem” will appear in Global Modernists on Modernism, a two-hundred-thousand-word anthology of texts — manifestos, essays, prologues, statements, forewords, letters, etc — by modernists across the arts, with an emphasis on texts that reflect on the theory and/or practice of modernism in a range of national, transnational, indigenous, regional, diasporic, and stateless contexts.
Translation from Yiddish by Ariel Resnikoff and Stephen Ross
[N.B.: Writes Eshleman of the poem’s origin and rediscovery: “This poem was written after studying Weston La Barre’s Muellos: A Stone Age Superstition About Sexuality (Columbia University Press, 1985). It is dated 8 August 2010. It will appear in my book Pollen Aria, to be published by Black Widow Press, spring 2019. After writing the poem I forgot about it, and would have lost it had not my Georgian translator Irakli Qolbaia come across it online. How or where he found it I do not know. But he sent it to me and I recognized it as one of my own.”]
Looking into the telescope of the night,
with its vehicular cinders, its naked sea butterflies,
I contemplate the composted humanity
under me, or
of self, so latent as to be a dwarf lantern,
to realize what the male head means in my Sepik layers,
to kill so as to amass souls, soul strength of others,