15 antiphonals: For Haroldo de Campos, as a new publication

[The antiphonals that follow have just been published – in time for my birthday (today) – as a small hand-stitched paperback by sine wave peak in Edinburgh.  The poems themselves were part of a commission from Francesco Conz, for work to be added to a series of large colored photo portraits of Haroldo de Campos. As my contribution to what was conceived as a group tribute, I took phrases & lines from English translations of Haroldo’s poetry & responded to them with loosely rhymed soundings of my own. I then handwrote the poems pair by pair onto a black left margin on each of the photographs. In the typographical version below, Haroldo’s words appear in italics, while mine are shown in roman type. For me at least, the resultant work has the feel of translation/transcreation – as still another instance of othering.  They appear in the new edition in a noticeably different format. (J.R.)]



burnt by asthma

churn’d miasma


a blind nail
sun’s axis

a kind whale
nun’s praxis


the malice of the mastery

the chalice of her chastity


the crux of the incredible

the flux of the inedible


mirrormoon in the mirage

silver spoon for persiflage


from muse to medusa all hot

when recused the accuser will rot


the fire became
water the water
a body of vapor

the tiger proclaimed
slaughter the slaughter
modified nature


weary weary weary
and a fury

dreary dreary dreary
in missouri


mirror of the self, mature

silver on my shelf, secure


Sitar of the tongue, how does one hear?

Guitar once unstrung is never clear


Unlike the bird
according to nature
but as a god

Hiding his word
under their strictures
rebuff’d with a nod


in front of a greater king
a king lesser great

unsung who will later sing
will more sing still late





secure a cut
a sure shot
on the bull's eye

skewer a cunt
the whore hot
on the driveby


against the
unflinching light

the eye
turns emerald

beneath the
diminished night

the sky burns

Jerome Rothenberg, 15 antiphonals for Haroldo
Variations on English translations of Haroldo De Campos

hand-stitched paperback, 18pp, numbered edition of 250

Edinburgh: sine wave peak, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-909744-06-6