Jerome Rothenberg

Poems and poetics

Anne Tardos, 'Beginningless,' a new poem from 'The Camel's Pedestal'

NOTE. Anne Tardos’s The Camel’s Pedestal: Poems 2009–2017 was published earlier this year by BlazeVOX Books. Of these poems and of what Gary Snyder has called the “real work of modern man: to uncover the inner structure and actual boundaries of the mind,” John Olson writes: “There is a splendid lucidity to Tardos’s writing, a jesting, inquisitive spirit nimbly examining the relationship between language and reality in inventive articulations that jingle with wit and perceptivity. Lines like ‘I am lost in a desert of my own making’ and ‘Do words work as wood works’ juggle phenomenology, advancing what Tardos observes as ‘the true state of things expressed in phenomena but inexpressible in language.’ Contradiction, paradox, incongruity; it’s all here, the entire caravan of linguistic apparatus crossing the dunes of this enigma, this desolation of self-awareness, this epistemology of dromedaries on the very edge of things. This collection is well-crafted, precise, imaginative, clear. I feel a great intelligence moving among these words. It’s exhilarating. This is the kind of work that inspires me.”

Life is a raw event
I give you roses                         You give me roses
As I speak and as you listen, I feel the traction of my words in the terrain of your mind
We speak of the great emptiness which is ultimately empty of itself (it is not reality either)
We discuss the limits of thought
The paradox of expressibility
The familiar, the habitual, we appropriate
Our mental attitudes then crystallize into instincts

Jerome Rothenberg: “A Book of Dreams,” a pastiche for Robert Kelly’s 82nd birthday


The way her knee swells

& she feels it

swelling & it turns into

a babe’s head.

No one has a countenance

more rich

& no one has a mouth

that opens wider,

lets a sound like

dreaming come into

Rochelle Owens: From “Solarpoetics” (continued) 12-15

[Writes Owens of her new masterwork: “In the order of the letters of the alphabet I am making use in these poems of a system of mental relations which by the act of writing becomes the poem, a cosmic meditation.”]

[Writes Owens of her new masterwork: “In the order of the letters of the alphabet I am making use in these poems of a system of mental relations which by the act of writing becomes the poem, a cosmic meditation.”]


Vulnerable Flesh Eater



Peter Minter: 'Everything is Speaking,' a new poem with author's note & biography

PETER MINTER is an Australian poet, poetry editor, and writer on poetry and poetics. His books include the award-winning Empty Texas and blue grass, and his poetry has been widely published and translated internationally, most recently in his book In the Serious Light of Nothing (Chinese University Press Hong Kong, 2013). He was a founding editor of Cordite poetry magazine, coedited the pioneering anthologies Calyx: 30 Contemporary Australian Poets and the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature, and has been the poetry editor for leading Australian journals Meanjin and Overland. He shares Aboriginal, Scottish, and English ancestry, and teaches Indigenous Studies, Australian Literature, and Creative Writing at the University of Sydney.

I go to sleep near the infants

breathing bodies, a small herd of nature

in layers of animation, the unknown

unfolding identical powers

delivered through a gateway of hearts

at body temperature. In a nest

of sleeping birds, you’re the bird

you’re the baby, I can hear you dreaming

Gerry Loose: From 'The Great Book of the Woods' (with a note on its sources)

NOTE (by Gerry Loose): The Primer is loosely drawn from the Auraicept na n-Eces, a seventh century CE Old Irish tract known as the Scholars’ Primer or Handbook of the Learned. 


It deals with Irish grammar and vernacular, claimed within that book to be descended from speech before the Tower of Babel and more comprehensive than Hebrew, Latin or Greek. The earliest written version we have is from the twelfth century CE, with many additions to the early text.

the primer


let profit be gno

let bora be strength

let the duality of the conjugal be ter

let rfoph be veneration

let piety be brops

rihph be cheerfulness