Our Americas: New Worlds Still in Progress
Jerome Rothenberg had just published "Our Americas" on his Poems & Poetics site. This is one of the essays from Attack of the Difficult Poems: Essays and Invetions:
part one, part two
One day I want to write an essay called The Americas Still in Process. In this essay, I would explore the still-imaginary cultural space of a “poetics of the Americas” in terms of José Martí’s “Our America” and Emerson’s “moral perfectionism.” My discussion of moral perfectionism, indebted to Stanley Cavell, would no doubt lead to a declaration of interdependence: that the poetics of the Americas cannot be complete, for if we ever arrive at its end, we will have destroyed its promise to be ongoing, regenerating, and self-cannibalizing.
In this essay I would proclaim, like a Dada Edgar Poe dreaming of Nicolàs Guillén doing Google searches, that the poem of the Americas does not exist. For the Americas is an imaginary cultural space whose mutant and multiform manifestations are as evanescent as the last breaths of a dying tongue.
& then I’d say that this is why the imperative for the poets of the Americas – contra conventional wisdom – has been to tell rather than show. For, telling is the task, as Langston Hughes calls us, of a people “in transition.”