[In the years in which I was working with many others toward the creation of an ethnopoetics, the presence and work of Henry Munn was of extraordinary importance. His death in February puts an end to what had been a life of intellectual questing, carried on in large part without recognition but always with an inquisitiveness & intelligence that contributed immeasurably to the work of others of us who were able to operate in a more public sphere. His translations, along with his brother-in-law Alvaro Estrada, of the chants and oral autobiogr
[EDITOR'S NOTE. My own concern with minimal forms of poetry & verbal composition goes back to the 1960s & discoveries I was making & creating in Techncians of the Sacred and Shaking the Pumpkin & connecting to experiments in our own time by poets like Ian Hamilton Finlay & others connected most specifically with what we were then speaking of as concrete poetry. That there was a complexity of thought & act behind this was another point I had to make – both “there” & “here” – & still that point seemed obvious enough. I called it, for Finlay & others, “a maximal poetry of minimal means,” & where I got into it myself, I found it helped to cool off, to set another temperature for what was otherwise my work. It’s with thoughts like this in mind that I approach Seymour Maynes’s long-running project of what he calls & practices as “word sonnets.” In their one-word verticality I’ve found a strong resemblance too to the look & feel of Chinese poetry that led Ernest Fenellosa to see in the immediacy of the Chinese graphic/visual ideogram (set one per line) “a splendid flash of concrete poetry.”
[NOTE. The following marks the continuation of the recovery & translation into English of the experimental modernist masterwork Protsesiye (Processions) by the great & all but forgotten Yiddish poet Mikhl Likht, who was a younger contemporary of Pound and Williams & in some ways the forerunner of Zukofsky & other “Objectivist” & projectivist poets.