[Anne Blonstein died much too soon on April 19, 2011. She had by then created a remarkable series of works in which she employed and transformed traditional numerological and hermeneutic procedures (gematria, notarikon) in the composition of radically new experimental poems. Too little known, her oeuvre, as I would read it, is in a line that goes from Abulafia to Mallarmé and Mac Low and various poets of Oulipo and Fluxus, among others, while the devotion and precision that she shows throughout is clearly and powerfully her own.
[Author’s note: The poems in this suite (cor)respond to a group of ancient Akkadian exorcism incantations, several of which I first discovered in the form of Jewish-Aramaic adaptations in the Babylonian Talmud. I read the radical hybridity of the Talmudic discourse here as both precedent for, & invitation to, my own contemporary translinguistic praxis, one which engages writing as a mode of perpetual displacement — translating languages in wide spirals outward, to the farthest edges of the sonic/semantic divide — while gleaning materials for poetics from even the most minute residues left behind. I’ve begun, in these terms, to compose & transpose from homophonic transliterations, as well as Aramaic & Hebrew translations, of the Akkadian spells, stitching together poems from the translingual dregs between the gaps of the adapted texts.
The phrase “Lick and Spit” I take from the Ashkenazi-Jewish folkloric expectoration ritual of licking a person’s forehead three times, spitting between each lick — a physical gesture I associate most closely with the act of sucking venom from a snake bite — in order to excise the “evil eye” from the body. I continue here then my ongoing inquiry into the tense & intensive micro-socio-poetic ritual relations between translingual utterance, psycholinguistic stigma, & the preliterary Jewish curse. —AR]
[Originally published in Burrowing In, Digging Out (1974) and The Choice (1977), both from David Meltzer’s Tree Books. See also the note at bottom of this posting & the essay on Drachler’s work by Christine Meilicke, which appeared as the posting on Poems and Poetics for April 19, 2017.]
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Rose Drachler’s virtual disappearance in death is one of those inevitable but disturbing realities that confronts a number of heroic & gifted artists. Her presence in her final years, as Christine Meilicke testifies, was important for many of us — not only the Jewish poets among us, as stressed by Meilicke, but many others as well. John Ashbery wrote of her: “Rose Drachler’s poems are strong and sweet, firm and quirky, but this oddness soon comes to be perceived by the reader as a new canon.”
[On my way to Buffalo to celebrate the life & work of Dennis Tedlock, with whom I founded Alcheringa in 1970 & launched what we were already calling ethnopoetics, I thought to post this selection of his own poems which we were first able to show in the pages of that magazine.