Commentaries - February 2017

Abdellatif Laâbi's 'In Praise of Defeat'

Archipelago books — maybe right now the finest US press truly turned toward and tuned in to the world beyond these Benighted States — has just released a gorgeous eight-hundred-page bilingual tome of the Moroccan poet Abdellatif Laâbi’s Selected Poems under the title In Praise of Defeat. The choice of poems is the author’s own, and the excellent translations from the French are by Donald Nicholson-Smith. Rather than “review” and laud the book here now, I’ll own up to the fact that it was my great pleasure to write a foreword for the book, which I’m reproducing here below. Enjoy, and then buy the book — don’t let the heft make you hesitate: the book — in Archipelago’s usual square format — rests well in the hand, is a pleasure to handle and read.

Adrienne Rich reading at Stanford

At PennSound we have now segmented — divided a recording into titled poem-length segments — a reading given by Adrienne Rich in 1973. The segmentation was done by PennSound staffer Hannah Judd. 

Introduction (3:18): MP3
Burning Oneself In (1:28): MP3
On violence (2:58): MP3
Didactic Poem (1:38): MP3
In the Evening (0:55): MP3
I Dream I’m the Death of Orpheus (1:28): MP3
Unwritten Novel (2:43): MP3
The Fourth Month of the Landscape Architect (2:30): MP3
Waking in the Dark (4:26): MP3
Incipience (2:10): MP3
The Stranger (1:33): MP3
Merced (3:13): MP3
A Primary Ground (2:33): MP3
Translations (1:55): MP3
The Phenomenology of Anger (7:11): MP3
Diving Into the Wreck (4:04): MP3

Renee Gladman's Ravicka trilogy

Renee Gladman’s trilogy, Event Factory, The Ravickians, and Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge, shifts epic’s emphasis on a shared, foundational past to ask how one understands a community’s present. With a different speaker narrating each book peopled with overlapping, recurring characters, the texts, while written in the past tense, thematize and insist on the question of the present moment. And likewise, they insist on the present moment as a question.

Ariel Resnikoff: From the 'YINGLOSSIA' series, a work in progress

[Author’s Note: My compositional method in these poems stretches across/between a number of different languages & engages (mis)translation as its key modality. This is writing that traverses Yiddish, Hebrew, & Aramaic (among other) grammars, syntaxes, & lexicons, taking English as its temporary “host” while performing perpetual inflectional slippages, often through interlingual punning & fusion slangs. – AR]


Mimi Gross's set design for Douglas Dunn's 'Antipodes'

Photos: Charles Bernstein

Douglas Dunn’s new dance, Antipodes, opened last night at Dancespace at St. Mark’s Church in New York. Design (sets, costumes) by Mimi Gross.