Commentaries - June 2017

Heriberto Yépez: Rereading María Sabina

[Heriberto Yépez is a well-known Mexican poet, novelist, translator, essayist, & provocateur, whose writing has been gaining recognition on both sides of the north-south divide. Working from a home base in Tijuana, B.C., he is the author of numerous books in Spanish, & some of his pieces in English have appeared in American magazines like TripwireShark, XCP, & Chain, along with a controversial critique of Charles Olson, The Empire of Neomemory, in both English & Spanish. The essay that follows was written shortly after the appearance of María Sabina: Selections in the short-lived Poets for the Millennium series (University of California Press) & was first published by me in Ubuweb Ethnopoetics (on line). Its republication here brings it into the orbit of Poems and Poetics, where it can be read in conjunction, say, with Henry Munn’s “The Uniqueness of María Sabina” & related writings.  Over the last several years Yépez & I have been planning a Technicians-sized anthology of “the poetry of the Americas” (both north & south and in multiple languages) in which María Sabina would surely be a central player. (J.R.)]

[Heriberto Yépez is a well-known Mexican poet, novelist, translator, essayist, & provocateur, whose writing has been gaining recognition on both sides of the north-south divide.

Caroline Bergvall's introduction to 'VIA'

Click here to view a full-sized scan of the introduction Caroline Bergvall wrote to her poem “VIA” for the collection titled Fig (Salt Books, 2005). A ten-minute recording of Bergvall performing “VIA” is available at PennSound. Episode #64 of the podcast series PoemTalk is a discussion of “VIA.” I have published a note on two versions of the piece here. A twelve-minute video discussion of “VIA” produced for the open online course ModPo is available here.

Dan Hoffman on 'The Raven' (video)

The late poet-critic Dan Hoffman, who years ago wrote Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe, talks about “The Raven” at the Kelly Writers House. (To see other clips from Writers House programs on YouTube, click here.)

Li Zhimin: Cut continuously for more perfection — on 'Pitch of Poetry'

Li Zhimin on 'Pitch of Poetry'

Reflections on Charles Bernstein's avant-garde poetics

This essay originally appeared in Foreign Language Studies (Wuhan, China, April 2017, 39:2) and is forthcoming in a Chinese translation in Poetry Exploration (诗探索, Beijing). It is reprinted here with the permission of the author. 

Abstract: This essay explicates three principles of Charles Bernstein’s avant-garde poetics while reflecting on his new book Pitch of Poetry, highlighting the contribution of Bernstein, as a leading figure of language poetry, to avant-garde poetics in the West. The first of the three principles is nonstop exploration. Bernstein is now a well-established figure. However, he insists, “Our journeys don’t end, our business is unfinished,” and has been consistently carrying out exploration in the field of avant-garde poetics. The second is poetics of organization.

Zero Visibility, by Grzegorz Wróblewski

Grzegorz Wróblewski’s new book, Zero Visibility, translated by Piotr Gwiazda*, has reached me — and I’m thrilled to have it. Wróblewski is constantly fascinating; he is often precise and whacky both. Many modes are here in this new book. One — perhaps my own favorite — is surrealist post-Soviet consciousness:


What was going through his mind when for the first time in his life
my dog saw a horse? He frozen like a statue, erect, hypnotized.

It was as if he had encountered a space alien.
He didn’t move until the horse disappeared over the horizon …