Jerome Rothenberg

Poems and poetics

Outsider poems, a mini-anthology in progress (51): From 'The Library of Unwritten Books'

001. The End, by Anon.

 I think I’d have to write a very short book. Yes, I have wanted to write lots of books before. I think my first book would be about actually how to get into the position of having to write a book in the first place.…

 The book would be red and white. That’s all I know. The colour of snow. I don’t think it would have pictures.

 And yes, it is about isolation. Maybe the whiteness is the blank page. Maybe it’s the blank page.

 (Recorded at Brompton Cemetery May 2001)

 116. This Is a Story, by Anon.

 … My dream would be to write it in a column. I’d have a big book but only write in an inch and-a-half space down the middle, with lots of paper on either side so you can draw pictures. If you are writing in short blasts, like I was saying, you can fill out the details with little stick figures doing stuff. If you can’t figure out how to write it, you can do it visually.

Kitasono Katue: Three poems from 'BLACK FIRE (Kuroi hi),' 1951, with a note on typography

Translation & note by John Solt

Kitasono Katue: Plastic Poem (Even from Trifling Objects), 1966
Kitasono Katue: Plastic Poem (Even from Trifling Objects), 1966

[Kitasono Katue (1902-1978), whom Pound admired & renamed Kit Kat, was on his own grounds a major, truly experimental poet & artist. Beyond that, in the 1950s, he designed the first four covers of Black Mountain Review, & Robert Creeley’s Divers Press published a book of his poems in his own English translations & containing a few of his colored drawings (or”katto” [cuts] as they say in Japanese – or so John Solt informs me).

Julian Talamantez-Brolaski: Three new poems from 'ADVICE FOR LOVERS' with a note from 'Phonosemantics and the Real'

[What follows is a glimpse of Talamantez-Brolaski’s creation of an effusive new poetry that brings together voices & forms over a wide range of experimental & traditional poetries. It is at the same time a hardcore experiment in the laying down of a transgender poetics that puts a number of identities into question & brings still others into a new prominence. All of this is done with an extraordinary & strikingly precise sense of what both identity & expression have been in the past & what they may be in the present. If Wittgenstein correctly spoke of “philosophy, as we use the word, [as] a fight against the fascination which forms of expression exert on us,” the same, as I’ve often argued, might also & usefully be said of poetry. In what Talamantez-Brolaski has started to create & re-create (and in these poems we only touch the surface), I see a mind searching the limits of possibilities, both demotic & elite, current & markedly antiquated, free forms & sonnets, at the practitioner’s disposal. The discussion of “phonosemantics,” below, of which I’m only showing a portion, is a zukofskyan assemblage in itself of multiple & diverse parts & in that sense a true beginning. (J.R.)]  

Fuck Me Harder

Fuck me harder, leave the haters behind
As you know I am a slut for leisure
Arrest me on the mountaintop’s incline,
For I’ve klepted when I ought to please your
Neglected epic skin, and pull your hair.

Itō Hiromi: Cooking, writing poetry

Translation from Japanese by Jeffrey Angles

Itō Hiromi (center) with Jeffrey Angles & Jerome Rothenberg
Itō Hiromi (center) with Jeffrey Angles & Jerome Rothenberg

[On March 11, 2011, northeastern Japan suffered a massive earthquake that left nearly 16,000 people dead or missing and many others injured. Soon afterward, the editors of Gendai shi techo (Japan's foremost magazine of contemporary poetry) and the Asahi Shinbun (one of Japan's largest newspapers) collaborated to commission and publish a series of works about the disaster, all written by Japan's foremost poets. The following poem was Hiromi Itō 's contribution to the project. This translation first appeared in Poetry Kanto, vol. 28 (2012). (J.A.)]

A huge earthquake, a huge tsunami
People die and just moments later
There’s the nuclear meltdown
Drawn-out fear assaults us
Each time I go to Tokyo
It is darker
Hot and humid there
It stings
In Tokyo
Everyone was afraid
Everybody was angry