Jerome Rothenberg

Poems and poetics

Alberto Blanco: 'Three Theories' from 'The Square Root of Heaven'

Translated from Spanish by Gustavo V. Segade & Elise Miller

                                                        Imagination is more important
                                                        than knowledge.

Emilio Prados: Three poems from 'The Enclosed Garden'

Translation from Spanish by Donald Wellman

Emilio Prados, left, & Federico García Lorca, Madrid, 1936
Emilio Prados, left, & Federico García Lorca, Madrid, 1936


Dreaming cowl,
summer rain:
where goes
the cloud in which you were born?

Forest echo,
heart of wind:
where the voice
that abandoned you in the sky?

Murmur of water
among soft rushes:
where goes
the sparkle of your current?

Human body fleeting,
slender reed:
where did your shadow forget
its nudity?

Beauty, solitude,
silent contemplation:
where is the true
scent of your word?...

(The voice of God
resounds against the age...)

Michael Davidson: Five new poems


I’m slouching past the point of no
interruptions the planet dissolving
from its patented heat death; I, too,
watch this cryogenic state thaw
under the stare of the hedge fund,
black car shows up
and gives them a check, I scream
and the sprinklers pulsate
in a thousand yards
because grass is not inevitable
but symptomatic, take my gene pool
all is smooth, no regrets,
and once this gazebo is swept
another will take its place or
no one will notice, a frog
appears on the fountain’s ledge

Aimé Césaire: From the original version (1939) of 'Notebook of a Return to the Native Land' (29 – 37)

Translation from French by Clayton Eshleman & A. James Arnold with a Note on the Original by the Translators

     At the end of first light, the wind of long ago—of betrayed trusts, of uncertain 
evasive duty and that other dawn in Europe—arises…

     To leave. My heart was humming with emphatic generosities. To leave… I would
arrive sleek and young in this land of mine and I would say to this land whose
loam is part of my flesh: “I have wandered for a long time and I am coming back
to the deserted hideousness of your sores.”
     I would come to this land of mine and I would say to it: “Embrace me without
fear… And if all I can do is speak, it is for you I shall speak.”
     And again I would say:
     “My mouth shall be the mouth of those calamities that have no mouth, my voice
the freedom of those who break down in the prison holes of despair.”
     And on the way I would say to myself:
     “And above all, my body as well as my soul beware of assuming the sterile
attitude of a spectator, for life is not a spectacle, a sea of miseries is not a
proscenium, a man screaming is not a dancing bear…”
     And behold here I am come home!

Outsider poems, a mini-anthology in progress (49): From 'The Ahmed Fragments,' 'Of Ants, Arabs, & the Art of Civilization'

Translated by Pierre Joris

(The Ahmed Fragments are my translations/adaptations of a series of monologues improvised in 1972/1973 in front of a tape recorder by Ahmed Taraoui, an Algerian worker “born about 1940,” and published under the title Une vie dalgérien, est-ce un livre que les gens vont lire? [ Does an<