Archive for August, 2017|Monthly archive page

Jerome Rothenberg on “The Symposium of the Whole”

Rothenberg’s Technicians of the Sacred has been central and essential to my understanding of what poetry is and can be since I first started teaching from it at the turn of the millennium. I find it difficult even to discuss poetry and poetics in an informed fashion with anyone unfamiliar with it, or with those equally expansive volumes, assembling poems for the millennium, that followed.

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Now, Technicians is being issued in a third edition, fifty years after the first. On this auspicious occasion, Jerome Rothenberg offers some words on the reissue and its timeliness, given the rise of ethnonationalisms, on the one hand, and the on-going extinctions of languages, their poetries, and speakers and singers, on the other. Linked is a talk on the new edition and ethnopoetics given recently at the The Faculty of Arts, The University of Melbourne.

Ignore at the peril to your own poetic spirit.

 

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(Too) little has changed in a generation…

In a book of interviews and correspondence between Julia Martin and Gary Snyder, I read the following in a letter from Snyder dated 28 August 1987 (!):

…the wealth in America is at the top, and there are vast numbers of very poor people, not all of them black or brown by any means. The US is not economically top country, some of those northern European places like Sweden and West Germany are higher. Even Japan, these days. Homeless visible in the streets of every city & some of the larger towns; real rural poverty, numbers of school dropouts that are never pursued, if kids quit schools these days the schools forget them—lousy schools in any case. Most of the US has a kind of hard-bitten disorderly anti-intellectual anti-establishment funk. (136)nobodyhomesmall

Here’s hoping this thirty years of plus ça change is only an eclipse in historical time of more humane, progressive tendencies.

I’ve long said, Gary Snyder is one of the sanest sentient beings on the planet. To read more, you can order the book from the publisher by clicking on the cover…

 

For the moment, a poem…

201118_lIn No Man’s Land

Wise Kung Fu

 

Waited out

One whole moon

on ‘is lutestrings

 

What tunes could fill those twentyeight days a woman’s monthly round

Did he have a copy of the classic anthology at his fingers’ tips

Asleep fingers twitch dreamquick licks

 

from March End Prill

News that stays news: On the Verbal Art of the Plain-spoken Poem

IMG_2521Recently, I’ve found myself caught up in a couple of on-line discussions where the topic turned to the reception of the “accessible” poem, one whose language is self-effacing and limpid.

One of my interlocutors, Chris Banks, put the matter quite well:

People are either terrified of being accessible, or terrified of meaning itself, leaving nothing for critics to puzzle out, or else are more interested in the surprise, the bizarre, the magic trick ahhhhh….

Problem is we need more perceptive readers of poetry who can establish what a poem is trying to do without equating sincerity with shortcomings, accessibility with simplicity, etc. I long for a day when we don’t have to announce a book has formalist elements on the jacket copy of books in this country. However, if you don’t, no one looks for such elements.

At a time in English-language poetry in North America when the poem that draws attention to its artfulness in various ways for various reasons is arguably in the ascendant, perhaps it’s time reconsider à rebours the innate and intricate artfulness of the poem that doesn’t parade its poeticity in “a coat / Covered with embroideries” but that takes up the challenge that “there’s more enterprise / In walking naked.”

To wit, I direct the interested reader to an intentionally perverse close analysis of the prosody of a brief poem by Elaine Equi, “Prescription”.