[The following is from Mark Weiss’s long awaited & very welcome new book, As Luck Would Have It, from Shearsman Books in the UK. Comments by Ron Silliman & Peter Manson appear beneath the poems – a further tribute to Weiss’s presence & prowess in a new American poetry & poetics.]
[As publication draws nigh, the following will be my final excerpt from the forthcoming Barbaric Vast & Wild: A Gathering of Outside & Subterranean Poetry from Origins to Present, edited with commentaries by myself & John Bloomberg-Rissman and published by Black Widow Press as the fifth volume of Poems for the Millennium. Earlier excerpts have been posted on Poems and Poetics over the last several years, referring to the work as “a mini-anthology in progress,” but the completed work will now appear as a 450 page assemblage to join the other volumes in the Poems for the Millennium series. (J.R.)]
[The following short essay appeared as the terminal piece in the Library of America’s A Singer Album, 2004.]
It was through Isaac Bashevis Singer that I first saw an opening to what came to be, for a number of years at least, a central focus of my work as a poet. I met him only once, a year or so after the American publication of Satan in Goray in 1957, and it took me at least a decade to absorb that book and the books that followed into my own system of writing and thinking. Our meeting was arranged by Cecil Hemley, who was Singer’s editor at Noonday Books, with the mistaken idea that I might know enough Yiddish to take on some of the translation for what was coming to be a major Noonday project. Singer was only just getting to be known – outside of Yiddish circles anyway – but my own reading of Satan in Goray and the Gimpel the Fool stories was already working on my imagination with a sense of something new that might find a way into the poetry I was then learning to compose.