Jerome Rothenberg

Postface to 'The President of Desolation'

Now available from Black Widow Press

[In announcing the publication of my latest book of poems from Black Widow Press, I thought the following postface might be of interest in what I say about the book’s title and the concerns that inform the book as a whole. Further information, for those who seek it, can be found at the Black Widow website, but for now I would hope to make the context of the work, including a number of procedural and aleatory poems, as clear as possible.

Osiris Ánibal Gómez: The ghost poet

Writing and translating indigenous poetry in twenty-first century Mexico

Osiris Anibal Gómez, right, with Mazatec poet Juan Gregorio Regino
Osiris Anibal Gómez, right, with Mazatec poet Juan Gregorio Regino, director of Mexico’s National Institute of Indigenous Languages (INALI).

For the past ten years there’s been an ongoing discussion among writers and critics concerning the conditions and the transcendence of translation in contemporary Indigenous literary production. On the one hand, there are those who express that the birth of bilingual literature in Mexico has been shaped by federal writing grants offered mainly to writers who agree to self-translate their work to the Spanish language for publishing. On the other hand, there are writers who take on the double artistic responsibility as a necessity for greater dissemination.

For the past ten years there’s been an ongoing discussion among writers and critics concerning the conditions and the transcendence of translation in contemporary Indigenous literary production. On the one hand, there are those who express that the birth of bilingual literature in Mexico has been shaped by federal writing grants offered mainly to writers who agree to self-translate their work to the Spanish language for publishing.

Bugging the circles (PoemTalk #123)

David Antin, ‘War’

On March 26, 2003, before an audience gathered for an event sponsored by the SUNY Buffalo Poetics Program, David Antin performed a fifty-minute talk-poem called “War.” It seems to have been a tense gathering. The second US incursion into Iraq had begun six days earlier, led by George W. Bush, who features prominently in Antin’s talk that evening. After delivering “War” this once, Antin apparently never transcribed it — nor apparently then, in his usual mode, lineated this talk-poem. Did he not sufficiently value it, then or later? Is it perhaps too unlike his usual talking performance? Perhaps it too directly referred to the political problem of the moment in relation to the poet’s work?

This corner of the Diaspora (PoemTalk #121)

Jerome Rothenberg, 'Galician Nights' from 'Poland/1931'

From left to right: Al Filreis, Jake Marmer, Maria Damon, Frank London.

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One Sunday afternoon at Kelly Writers House, Jake Marmer, Frank London, Al Filreis, and Maria Damon ducked into the Wexler Studio to talk about Jerome Rothenberg's Poland/1931. The group chose to focus on the section of that book entitled “Galician Nights, or a Novel in Progress” — on, in particular, a 2002 performance in which Rothenberg chanted the text while backed by the Klezmatics (the band including one of our interlocutors, the Hasidic New Wave eminence Frank London, on trumpet). The recording — which lasts six minutes and twenty-six seconds — can be found at Rothenberg’s extensive PennSound page

Total translation

Navajo song and the story of US modernism

In her deconstruction of Mary Austin’s ‘The American Rhythm,’ Leah Dilworth argu
In her deconstruction of Mary Austin’s ‘The American Rhythm,’ Leah Dilworth argues that modernists held American Indian culture to be fundamentally analogous to that of ancient Africa and China. Above: Austin's 'American Rhythm,' Eda Lou Walton's 'Dawn Boy,' and 'Navajo Songs,’ 1933 and 1940 field recordings from settlements in New Mexico and Arizona courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

American Indian culture attracted many white poets to the Southwest in the early and mid-twentieth century. Educated in Anglo American traditions, but compelled by the modernist urge to develop new poetic forms, poets from Mary Austin to Jerome Rothenberg went to great lengths to represent what they were hearing and feeling. D. H. Lawrence wrote of his experience of Hopi dance, and he and Witter Bynner composed lyrics purportedly inspired by the Taos Pueblo. In American Rhythm, Austin “re-expressed” the music of several peoples, including the Paiute and Shoshone, and in Red Earth, Alice Corbin Henderson claimed to write “from the Indian,” naming the San Ildefonso and Tesuque pueblos. 

American Indian[1] culture attracted many white poets to the Southwest in the early and mid-twentieth century. Educated in Anglo American traditions, but compelled by the modernist urge to develop new poetic forms, poets from Mary Austin to Jerome Rothenberg went to great lengths to represent what they were hearing and feeling. D. H. Lawrence wrote of his experience of Hopi dance, and he and Witter Bynner composed lyrics purportedly inspired by the Taos Pueblo.

Dennis Tedlock (June 19, 1939 – June 3, 2016)

image: Douglas Levere / UB

It is with great sadness that I learned of the death of Dennis Tedlock on June 3.  I worked closely with Dennis during our time in the Poetics Program at SUNY-Buffalo. I greatly admired Dennis's work and was lucky to get to know him.

Jake Marmer interviews David Antin & Jerome Rothenberg

On December 23, 2015, in San Diego, Jake Marmer interviewed David Antin and Jerome Rothenberg. Today the recording of the interview has been added to the Marmer, Antin, and Rothenberg author pages at PennSound. Here is a direct link to it: MP3 (1:35:55). Here is Jake Marmer's introduction to the interview:

Imagining a Poetry That We Might Find: Conversation with Jerome Rothenberg and David Antin

Jerome Rothenberg interviewed

PennSound podcast #52

Jerome Rothenberg at the Kelly Writers House on September 10, 2015.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

On September 10, 2015, Jerome Rothenberg re-visited the Kelly Writers House to give an evening reading. A few hours earlier, Ariel Resnikoff and Al Filreis met Rothenberg in the Wexler Studio for an extended interview/conversation that ranged across many epochs, poetic modes, and topics.

Bright arrogance #12

Uncopiable copies and bpNichol' s machine translation

From bpNichol's Sharp Facts; gif'd with permission of the estate of bpNichol

Willis Barnstone speaks disapprovingly of literal translation as like a “xerox machine.”  This derogatory use of the word xerox in relation to translation is a little unfair, especially since the xerox is a much better metaphor for translation pushed to its creative extremes than is the more typical technological reference to the game of “telephone.”

Distanced sounding: ARLO as a tool for the analysis and visualization of versioning phenomena within poetry audio

Kenneth Sherwood

Banner image for "Distanced Sounding" by Kenneth Sherwood

As readers, writers, students, teachers, or scholars of poetry, many of us have 'first-encounter' stories — hearing Poet X read for the first time; copying neglected Caedmon LPs in the library basement; borrowing a thrice-dubbed cassette of the Black Box Magazine or New Wilderness Audiographics; exploring the personal collection of a generous friend, poet, or teacher. In the days before the web, one might infer the performativity of David Antin, Jerry Rothenberg, Charles Olson, Anne Waldman, or Amiri Baraka through books like Technicians of the Sacred or Open Poetry or envision the scene of a raucous Beat coffeehouse reading, poet jamming with a jazz quintet — but recordings could be scarce.  In place of the pleasurable frustration involved in sounding out a Futurist or Dada poem from its suggestive but underdetermined visual text — the reader seeking to hear a poem in 2015 will search online archives like PennSound or Ubuweb.

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