Jenny Holzer’s new, dazzling, installation at the Philadelphia’s Comcast Technology Center consists of nine echoing lines of seventeen-hours of text running continuously on the ceiling. Among the texts set by Holzer are three poems of mine from Girly Man: “Didn’t We,” “Likeness,” and “The Beauty of Useless Things: A Kantian Tale” (not pictured in the video).
Charles Bernstein, Norbert Lange, Ernesto Livon-Grosman, Collective à Royaumont, Haroldo de Campos, and Leevi Lehto
A Test of Poetry
“A Test of Poetry” was written in 1992 and published in My Way: Speeches and Poems (University of Chicago Press, 1999). The poem is based on a letter from the Chinese scholar Ziquing Zhang, who translated poems from Rough Trades and The Sophist for Selected Language Poems (Chengdu, China: Sichuan Literature and Art Publishing House, 1993); quotations from the poems are italicized. It seemed to me that Ziquing Zhang’s questions provided both an incisive commentary on my poems and also raised a set of imponderble yet giddy, not to say fundamental, translation issues. Several poets have take up the task of translating this poem, and we here compile the results: Norbert Lange into German, Ernesto Livon-Grosman into Spanish, Collective à Royaumont dans le cadre de l’Atelier Cosmopolite into French (originally published as a pamphlet by Format Américain), Haroldo de Campos into Portuguese, and Levi Lehto into Finnish.