[The appeal to me in the works that follow was in the harshness and fury of Lermontov’s romanticism, but it was just this note of contempt, as in his “iron verses / bursting with bitterness / & rage,” that marked him as a poet who displayed, as Nietzsche wrote of Heine, “that divine malice without which I cannot conceive perfection.” It was that spirit – not necessarily our own – that Milos Sovak & I tried to capture in a project to translate Lermontov anew, sadly terminated by Milos’s death in 2009. I’ll present the four poems we did accomplish in two installments. (J.R.)]
[In advance of the forthcoming republication of ShakingthePumpkin by Station Hill Press of Barrytown I’m posting again the following selection which appeared, with accompanying commentaries, in a recent issue of PoetryInternational, San Diego State University, & as an excerpt on PoemsandPoetics. Additional excerpts from ShakingthePumpkin were posted earlier &morewillbepostedherebetweennow&theactualrepublication.]
In the aftermath of TechniciansoftheSacred (1968) the next step I took toward the construction of an experimental ethnopoetics was an assemblage of traditional works and commentaries thereon focused entirely on one of the world’s still surviving and incredibly diverse “deep cultures.” The resultant work, ShakingthePumpkin:TraditionalPoetryoftheIndianNorthAmericas, was published by Doubleday Anchor in 1972 and in revised versions by Alfred van der Marck Editions (1986) and the University of New Mexico Press (1991).
TheAndescrossingwaspartofmyreadingtripwithCeciliaVicuñathroughChile,Argentina,Uruguay,&Brazil.OurothercompanionswereDianeRothenberg,thephotographer&filmmakerFrancis(Frank)Cincotta,&ArianeBraillard.BesidesCincotta’sphotographs&films,theonlyrecordsofthecrossingaremyseriesofpoems(laterpublishedinRamDevineni’sRatapallax)&DianeRothenberg’songoingjournal, both excerpted below.
She died & from her breasts her newborn babe sucked life. Her sanctuary at the Inca’s lake still fills the flattened earth.