The following is an early announcement of a work now in progress: a full-blown anthology/assemblage of the poetry of all the Americas (“from origins to present”), coedited with Heriberto Yépez, that the University of California Press has just accepted for publication. As Heriberto & I move into the work, I’m posting our proposal for the book, below, as an indication of what’s in store & in the hope, as with other assemblages of mine, that others will come forward with suggestions for materials relevant as texts & commentaries that fall along the lines of those in my earlier anthologies. Even more important for a work of this scope, Heriberto & I are looking for others who can assist us in the formidable task of translation: Spanish, Portuguese, French, & the full range of indigenous languages & creoles from the two great American continents.
[The following is an early announcement of a work now in progress: a full-blown anthology/assemblage of the poetry of all the Americas (“from origins to present”), coedited with Heriberto Yépez, that the University of California Press has just accepted for publication.
[N.B. To which she adds, in correspondence: “The elephant is a non-predatory mammal, a sensate being. The poem intersects body and spirit — elephant desire, with the function of marketing, production, distribution and exchange of elephant and rhino body parts by human predators.”]
The lead to the poem came, like much else, from conversations with Hiromi Ito, herself a major figure in contemporary Japanese poetry and for over twenty years a neighbor and close friend in southern California. I had recently written and published a series of poems, The Treasures of Dunhuang, many of which were my own takes on images of the Buddha from the great painted caves of Dunhuang in western China. My first sighting of those was in an exhibit of that name at the Metropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo, in 1996, reenforced by a visit to Dunhuang in 2002. What struck me then was the surprising twist given to images that we thought of as familiar — much like images of Jesus when one sees them in out-of-the-way regions of the Christian world.
(1) When the Buddha walks. his feet are so close to the ground that there is not even a hair’s space between his soles & the earth;
(2) the imprint of a wheel appears on the soles of the Buddha’s feet;
(3) the Buddha’s fingers are exceptionally long & slender;
And likewise they contend that animals / Wander about head downwards and cannot fall / Off from the earth into the sky below / Any more than our bodies of themselves can fly / Upwards into the regions of the sky; / That when they see the sun, the stars of night / Are what we see, and that they share the hours / Of the wide heavens alternately with us, / And pass nights corresponding to our days.