Translations from Japanese by Jerome Rothenberg & Yasuhiro Yotsumoto
NOTE. Over a short lifetime, Nakahara Chuya (1907-1937) was a major innovator along lines originally shaped by Dada and other, earlier forms of European, largely French, experimental poetry. In 1997, as part of an annual poetry festival in his home prefecture of Yamaguchi, I came to his grave along with a group of Japanese poet-companions, to celebrate the 60th year of his death and the 90th of his birth. The poem marking that time, “At the Grave of Nakahara Chuya,” appeared a few years later in A Paradise of Poets and included a fake “translation” (a “transcreation” perhaps, as Harold de Campos might have had it) in what I took to be his style, or one of them, that brought some of his work into the domain of popular Japanese music.
[The Nine Songs by Qu Yuan (332–296 B.C.), excerpts from which appeared in the earlier editions of Technicians of the Sacred in Arthur Waley’s well-known & text-only translation, was in its origins a clear example of poetry as an act of “total performance.” Writes Wai-lim Yip as translator: “Recent scholarship, particularly the work of the poet-scholar Wen Yiduo, sees Qu Yuan’s The Nine Songs as a collection of songs of folk and oral nature used in ancient shamanistic ritualistic dramas performed near Dongting Lake in Hu’nan Provi
[NOTE. These texts, originally published in Barzakh: Poems 2000-2012 (2014), were commissioned after the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion & oil spill by Donald Nally & the Crossing Choir to be set to music by Gene Coleman, Chris Jonas & Gabriel Jackson. The work premiered in Philadelphia in 2014, and had its first European staging in Luxembourg in October 2015.
— The first two sections of the work are partial writing-through’s of Stéphane Mallarmé’s poem A Throw of the Dice, using both Daisy Alden’s & my own translations.