The earth is currently operating in a no-analog state. In the center of the grid is a glass water pitcher. The pink lightning was branched — I think I mean forked. Instead of these, I was given an insect, a peculiar prehistoric creature, part lobster, part spider, part bell-ringer, part son of a fallen star, something like an armored dog. But of course a
name means nothing to a place
place-names are necessary relations
a name recovered returns the claims of human affection for a place
place-names identify a field of biotic relationships
place-names are allied to habitat restoration listen to a place-name, hear the dead speak
the cuckoo is a pretty bird, she warbles as she flies The cuckoo is a - BANG -
The memory of Kenneth Rexroth goes back into my distant past. I had been aware of him since the 1940s but with renewed interest during the 1950s and the emergence of the San Francisco Renaissance and that early Beat Generation for which he was an older spokesman. With David Antin and others, circa 1958, I was coming into contact with poets outside of our immediate neighborhood and, as with Kenneth, outside of our own generation.
I think our first meeting with him was under the pretext of doing an interview for Chelsea Review, during its early period, when Robert Kelly and George Economou were among the cofounders and editors.
[Presented originally at “Outside-in/Inside-out,” A Festival of Outside and Subterranean Poetry, in Glasgow, Scotland, on October 5, 2016, as a testament in part to C.D. Wright’s work with the archive of poet Besmilr Brigham, while touching on much else in the process. (J.R.).]
[Author’s Note: My compositional method in these poems stretches across/between a number of different languages & engages (mis)translation as its key modality. This is writing that traverses Yiddish, Hebrew, & Aramaic (among other) grammars, syntaxes, & lexicons, taking English as its temporary “host” while performing perpetual inflectional slippages, often through interlingual punning & fusion slangs. – AR]