Jerome Rothenberg

Poems and poetics

Toward a poetry and poetics of the Americas: Two poems by José Asunción Silva

Two poems by José Anunción Silva

“Nocturno III” comes from an unusual extension of voice that even visually creates an unseen pattern of lines. One can sense in Silva’s “night” the process of contacting his underworld and the intermittent flow and rupture derived from this contact. It is a chant to the night and to the obscure unity of a mysterious duality that does not lead to death, but is death itself. This poem in particular possesses a structure that would reappear (reinvented) in some of Neruda’s pieces, for example, but most importantly it deals with an alliance to obscurity and a dialect of rhythm and breakage, sound and visual play, that is still haunting.

Translations from Spanish by Jerome Rothenberg

 

Nocturne III

 

A night,

A night thick with perfumes, with whispers and music, with wings,

A night

From 'Eclipse' by Joe Safdie, with a note on its poetics by the author

A sunrise, the sun’s course, a sunset are marvelous to no one because they occur daily. But solar eclipses are a source of wonder because they occur seldom, and indeed are more marvelous than lunar eclipses, because these are more frequent. Thus nature shows that she is not aroused by the common ordinary event, but is moved by a new and striking occurrence. Let art, then, imitate nature, find what she desires, and follow as she directs. — Frances Yates, The Art of Memory

Jerome Rothenberg: Talking with David Antin

Talking with David Antin

The first accounting of a friendship

[Remarks prepared for presentation at the conference “David Antin: Talking, Always Talking” September 27, 2018 at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, in connection with the revival of Antin’s 1988 “Sky Poems” as an exercise in the poetics of sky-writing.]

[Remarks prepared for presentation at the conference “David Antin: Talking, Always Talking” September 27, 2018 at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, in connection with the revival of Antin’s 1988 “Sky Poems” as an exercise in the poetics of sky-writing.]

 

Rochelle Owens: 'Beloved the Aardvark'

A new poem with author's comments

Author’s comment: “To look at the image of an Aardvark is to take a cosmic Rorschach test, and like a cubist mural is both a microcosm and macrocosm. You understand Intuitively — a Cartesian resolution of body and spirit. The poem presented here is the first of a series of poems titled ‘Beloved the Aardvark,’ related I suppose to the poem ‘Devour Not the Elephant’ that appeared earlier in Poems and Poetics.” — Rochelle Owens

The letters horizontal

or vertical  f l o a t  before

your eyes 

 

a black line shapes itself

spells out the first noun in

an english dictionary

 

with a forefinger and thumb

Toward a poetry and poetics of the Americas (14)

Emily Dickinson, 'A Letter to the Master,' lineated

[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.)]

Summer 1861