[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.
Early this October Diane Rothenberg and I had the chance, too long delayed, to revisit the Allegany Seneca Reservation in upstate New York, where we had spent two years (and many visits besides) in the late 1960s & early 1970s. In the interim, our dearest & closest Seneca friends — most older than us, some younger — had “passed,” as the expression goes, and the couple of returns we attempted brought a repeated sense of emptiness & loss.