Jerome Rothenberg

Poems and poetics

John Bloomberg-Rissman: From 'In The House of the Hangman,' with a commentary on the process

At that moment, an explosion occurs. At that moment the sumo wrestler dives; he enters the water and makes no splash. The prisoner’s strike is on. Often I wonder whether my teeth are rotting. On Tuesday I had my hair cut. In the bathroom I kill a cockroach as it tries to run past me. My breasts hurt I am pregnant perhaps. This prepares the manifold, earlier, immaterial representations, the mounting system centralized, happily groomed as yoga for planets. The earlier bonobos touched it and squirrels did their math to empower the mergers and exchange.

John Martone, two new serial poems: 'Gamma' & 'Juniperus Virginiana'

[To describe John Martone as our greatest living miniaturist, as I have in the past, is to go back for me to a time many years ago when Ian Hamilton Finlay & I corresponded about a poetry of small increments (one-word poems & other such concerns).  For Finlay, I believe, some form of minimalism was at the heart of the concrete poetry he was then exploring & developing, & for myself it entered into aspects of ethnopoetics & appeared most clearly in the numerically based poems (gematria) that I was beginning to write.  It’s with someone like John Martone, however

Outside & subterranean poems, a mini-anthology in progress (57): Husayn ibn Mansur al-Hallaj (Persian, 10th century A.D.): From 'The Divan'

The execution of Mansur al-Hallaj, 1602 AD (1011 AH)
The execution of Mansur al-Hallaj, 1602 AD (1011 AH)


81.      Yâ sirra sirrî             

O my secret’s secret, you have dwindled so much you’re hidden from the thought of the living,
and yet a hidden-manifest of you has appeared in all things for all things.

My excuse to you is a profound ignorance, a vast doubt, and total powerlessness.
O you, all’s completeness, you are no different than me! But then, what’s my excuse to myself?

83.      ‘Ajibtu 

I’m dumbfounded! How can my part hold up my whole
when my earth cannot bear the load of my part?

From 'An Interview with David Antin, Spring 2013' conducted by Stephen Fredman

[The full interview will appear as a foreword to David Antin’s How Long Is the Present: Selected Talk Poems, edited by Stephen Fredman and scheduled for publication by the University of New Mexico Press in 2014.]

Q. 1  When you began delivering talk poems in the mid-1970s, they seemed quite confrontational. There was a remarkable resistance to the work even among so-called "avant-garde" poets on the West Coast, who seemed, as I recall, to take your questioning of the function and techniques of poetry as a direct affront. What specifically were you doing that was so provocative?

A. 1  I think I was born under the star of controversy.

Jorge Santiago Perednik: 'The Great Skidder' (from 'Shock of the Lenders')

Translation from Spanish by Molly Weigel

Three little birds up on a wire

were singing "tu amor, tu amor"

or maybe "tu est mort"

the one on the left holding some grass in its beak

the one in the middle saying this is the real wire

the one on the right asking what happens when the wire ends

I thought they were the three stooges

and also the holy trinity

the crackbrained father and son and the crackbrained ghost