Jenny Holzer’s new, dazzling, installation at the Philadelphia’s Comcast Technology Center consists of nine echoing lines of seventeen-hours of text running continuously on the ceiling. Among the texts set by Holzer are three poems of mine from Girly Man: “Didn’t We,” “Likeness,” and “The Beauty of Useless Things: A Kantian Tale” (not pictured in the video).
Charles Bernstein, Norbert Lange, Ernesto Livon-Grosman, Collective à Royaumont, Haroldo de Campos, and Leevi Lehto
A Test of Poetry
“A Test of Poetry” was written in 1992 and published in My Way: Speeches and Poems (University of Chicago Press, 1999). The poem is based on a letter from the Chinese scholar Ziquing Zhang, who translated poems from Rough Trades and The Sophist for Selected Language Poems (Chengdu, China: Sichuan Literature and Art Publishing House, 1993); quotations from the poems are italicized. It seemed to me that Ziquing Zhang’s questions provided both an incisive commentary on my poems and also raised a set of imponderble yet giddy, not to say fundamental, translation issues. Several poets have take up the task of translating this poem, and we here compile the results: Norbert Lange into German, Ernesto Livon-Grosman into Spanish, Collective à Royaumont dans le cadre de l’Atelier Cosmopolite into French (originally published as a pamphlet by Format Américain), Haroldo de Campos into Portuguese, and Levi Lehto into Finnish.
Video from my visit to the Tbilisi International Festival of Literature intercuts my reading of “Thank You for Saying Thank You” with a translation by, and conversation with, Paata Shamugia. Thanks to festival director Nuka Gambashidze. Video from Indigo, Georgian literary magazine.