[To be published in 2015 as part of an expanded & revised edition of Diane Rothenberg’s Mothers of the Nation by Nine Point Publishing in Bridgton, Maine]
We first met Harry Watt in December, 1967. Stanley Diamond prepared a letter for us to carry along and telephoned ahead to introduce us. Diamond was interested in the experiments in translation that my husband, Jerome Rothenberg, was doing and thought that a meeting with some of the singers of the Allegany Seneca, a group among whom Diamond had worked, might be conducive to further explorations in translation.
[What follows is a draft of what will be part of the pre-face to Barbaric Vast & Wild, the assemblage of “outside & subterranean poetry” to be published later this year by Black Widow Press — the de-facto fifth volume of Poems for the Millennium & the culmination for the moment of a project that began nearly fifty years ago with the original publication of Technicians of the Sacred. I’m posting it now on Poems and Poetics before I head off for six or seven weeks on the road, to engage in readings & pe
[Originally published in Current Musicology's recent issue on “experimental writing about music.”]
This set of poems grew out of my experiences of listening and finding myself inside nigunim(pl; singular nigun or nign), Chassidic chants — mystical, usually wordless songs used as accompaniment for rituals — weddings, prayers, candle-lightings — collective beckoning of transcendence. The nigun experience is fraught with what Amiri Baraka called, referring to blues, the “re/feeling” — proximity and shape of personal history of encounters with unfathomable.
Translations from Japanese by Jerome Rothenberg & Yasuhiro Yotsumoto
[The project to translate Nakahara Chuya into English continued recently (July 2014) with a meeting in Yamaguchi, Japan, of a number of interested poets & translators – plans to be announced. My own collaborative work with Yasuhiro Yotsumoto will hopefully continue from this point onward, for which the following poems & comments are only a beginning. (J.R.)]