[Milton Resnick was a very visible and dynamic artist when we met him in the early 1960s, but beyond that he was also a persistent practitioner of poetry, less in a public sense than as a release for ideas and feelings that were a necessary supplement to his life’s work as a painter.
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.”