[Two years after the first publication of the following extract in Poems and Poetics, Hiromi Itō’s Wild Grass on the Riverbank has now been published by Action Books in a definitive English translation by Jeffrey Angles. One of the most important poets of contemporary Japan, her impact has been summarized by fellow poet Kido Shuri as follows: “The appearance of Itō Hiromi, a figure that one might best call a ‘shamaness of poetry’ (shi no miko) was an enormous event in post-postwar poetry. Her physiological sensitivity and writing style, which cannot be captured within any existing framework, became the igniting force behind the subsequent flourishing of ‘women’s poetry’ (josei shi), just as Hagiwara Sakutarō had revolutionized modern poetry with his morbid sensitivity and colloquial style.” More on Itō and this important new work follows the excerpt from the work itself. (J.R.)]
[It is astonishing to me how Pierre Joris, whom I’ve known going back into his jeunesse (& almost into mine) has emerged as an exemplar of a total poetics, at the heart of which is that nomadic poetics which he’s been delivering to us over the last three or four decades with such singular force. As with many of us who have tried to define ourselves as poets & sentient beings, it is the poetry itself that precedes and determines what we later say about it.
[The following short essay & poem were commissioned a decade ago for publication in Kader El-Janabi’s short-lived magazine,Arapoetica de la Poésie Internationale, but with that magazine’s demise or suspension, were never actually published. The issue for which they were intended was to focus on the connection between American & French poetry over the preceding century. In its original English version the concluding poem (“Three Paris Elegies”) had appeared earli
[In a recent announcement, which seemed strange even to those of us who thought we knew him well, our friend & companion in poetry Heriberto Yépez announced recently that “the writing project that was Heriberto Yépez” had now come to an end and that “Heriberto Yépez’s oeuvre has concluded.” Since Heriberto had only turned forty this year, it seemed a little premature & reminiscent, to me at least, of the “poets of the no” (the great refuseniks) in Enrique Vila-Matas's masterful Bartleby & Co. It was also enough to set off a
“Ian Tyson reads us” — or so I wrote a number of years ago when the question first came up. He is illustrator of the work not as subject or as mood per se but as structure. The rest comes out of that, a play between the poet & the artist, where the poet’s words are taken, not for what they say at surface but for the directions they imply — the rules or inner structures that are there for him to read & follow, or evade. I am a poet with some feel for content, for signification, that may sometimes act to hide the structure. I began to come alive in poetry with a series of polemics arguing the primacy of image (“deep” or “surreal” or otherwise) as a concern to be explored anew in the awakening of the later 1950s. That part, the image part, had no need for picture as a form of illustration. And even later, when I used photos & other images to let the physical eye catch a glimpse of a mythical Poland disclosed through words, said photos were sparing & personal, my additions, often ironic, to a work that was proceeding as a whole by means of an already evident collage.