Jerome Rothenberg

Poems and poetics

Rafael Alberti (1902 – 1999): 'Buster Keaton Searches the Woods for his Sweetheart a Genu-ine Cow'

[Translation from Spanish by Jerome Rothenberg, first published here & dedicated to Heriberto Yépez, who originally showed me the experimental, almost Dadaist range of Alberti’s early poetry.]

 

1, 2, 3 & 4.

These four footprints don’t match my shoes.

If these four footprints don’t match my shoes,

whose four footprints can these footprints be?

Rochelle Owens: 'Hermaphropoetics' / 'Brown Dust'

[What follows is the sixth installment of Rochelle Owens’ Hermaphropoetics, a work in progress that continues the poetic & mythopoetic reach of her oeuvre as it has come to us since the 1960s.  For me she remains, as she was when we first came to know her, a poet who bends the resources of language toward the revelation & creation of a new & always startling vision of the real & more-than-real.  As I wrote of her back then: “There is a voice in Owens’ work … like a fierce and unrelenting force of nature. Sharp and visual, she combines a landscape with a poetics, the domestic with the mythic, machines with the organic living world from which arises a construct and a fused vision: poetry and life.”  The photo image of the field on Mars that accompanies “Brown Dust” is a good example of what her work makes possible. (J.R.)]

Hiromi Itō: From 'Wild Grass on the Riverbank' (just published)

Translation from Japanese by Jeffrey Angles 

[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.)]

Pierre Joris: From 'Barzakh' (Poems 2000–2012)

[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.

For Kader El-Janabi: 'The French Connection'

[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