The translation of Likht’s “Every New Poet: Proem” will appear in Global Modernists on Modernism, a two-hundred-thousand-word anthology of texts — manifestos, essays, prologues, statements, forewords, letters, etc — by modernists across the arts, with an emphasis on texts that reflect on the theory and/or practice of modernism in a range of national, transnational, indigenous, regional, diasporic, and stateless contexts.
Translation from Yiddish by Ariel Resnikoff and Stephen Ross
[N.B.: Writes Eshleman of the poem’s origin and rediscovery: “This poem was written after studying Weston La Barre’s Muellos: A Stone Age Superstition About Sexuality (Columbia University Press, 1985). It is dated 8 August 2010. It will appear in my book Pollen Aria, to be published by Black Widow Press, spring 2019. After writing the poem I forgot about it, and would have lost it had not my Georgian translator Irakli Qolbaia come across it online. How or where he found it I do not know. But he sent it to me and I recognized it as one of my own.”]
Looking into the telescope of the night,
with its vehicular cinders, its naked sea butterflies,
I contemplate the composted humanity
under me, or
of self, so latent as to be a dwarf lantern,
to realize what the male head means in my Sepik layers,
to kill so as to amass souls, soul strength of others,
NOTE. A writer of remarkable skills and insights, Weiss has written of the present venture: “I’ve joked before that my work isn’t so much composition by field as composition of field. A Suite of Dances might be composition by notebook.”
NOTE. The basic book for Haroldo de Campos in English is Novas: Selected Writings, edited by Antonio Sergio Bessa, Odile Cisneros, and Roland Greene, published by Northwestern University Press in 2007. While Haroldo died in 2003, he and his brother Augusto are widely acknowledged today as two of the truly major poets of the last hundred years, bringing poetry and poetics together.
[Best known among us as the cofounder (with his brother Augusto de Campos and Décio Pignatari) of Noigandres, the great Brazilian experimental and concrete poetry movement of the later twentieth century, Haroldo moved his work in multiple directions, to place him among the truly grand poets of the Americas, North and South, early and late, and in multiple languages.