Commentaries

Toward a poetry and poetics of the Americas (11): from the Popol Vuh (Mayan)

The Popol Vuh, literally “the book of the community” (or “commonhouse” or “council”), was preserved by Indians in Santo Tomás Chichicastenango, Guatemala, and in the eighteenth century given to Father Francisco Ximénez who transcribed it in roman letters and put it into Spanish; vanished again and rediscovered in the 1850s by Carl Scherzer and Abbé Charles Etienne Brasseur de Bourbourg.

Translation from the Mayan by Dennis Tedlock

 

this is the beginning of the ancient word,

here in this place called k’iche’

 

Here we shall inscribe,

               we shall implant the Ancient Word,

Sylvia Plath's 'The Bell Jar'

The Bell Jar (Faber & Faber)
The Bell Jar (Faber & Faber)

Sylvia Plath spent the summer of 1953 in New York working for Mademoiselle magazine. In the first sentence of The Bell Jar, Esther Greenwood, Plath’s narrator, tells us “I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.” Esther’s inability to know — to know what she was doing and whether her life was worth it — is contextualized by the executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

Stanley Cavell (1926–2018)

Cavell at home, April 9, 2014. © Charles Bernstein

I met Stanley Cavell almost fifty years ago and he and his work have been constant companions since that time. I am grateful for his friendship and that of Cathleen Cavell, over all these years.

We cover our girlish faces. We are the war.

“In the absence of a licit space for the captive female’s desire, it too, becomes engulfed as crime.” Saidiya V. Hartman, Scenes of Subjection

Artists across another terrain: Non-Kiwi interpretations of Kiwi poetry

Overseas representations of New Zealand poetry

Overseas representations of New Zealand poetry
the drift project

Kia ora ano [Hello again].

As promised in the previous commentary, in these variegated tangents away from the vast soft white underbelly of New Zealand poetry, I here focus on two non–New Zealanders and their valuable and vitally different representations of Kiwi poets and their mahi, or work. One is French, one is American; both have been keenly involved in publishing or producing New Zealand poems for quite some time now. Both are visual artists. Alphabetically, I now approach them — America to France.