[The following in its original appearance in 1970 was a foundational work for what we were already calling ethnopoetics. Dennis Tedlock and I had met earlier that year, and over the summer, while settled into Santa Fe, New Mexico, and environs, we worked with Barbara Tedlock and Diane Rothenberg on assembling the first issue of what we took to be (and so stated) “the first magazine of the world’s tribal poetries.” What has been done since then and what has failed to be done are of equal interest in looking back at this – at least for me.]

STATEMENT OF INTENTION

As the first magazine of the world’s tribal poetries, ALCHERINGA will not be a scholarly “journal of ethnopoetics” so much as a place where tribal poetry can appear in English translation & can act (in the oldest & newest of poetic traditions) to change men’s minds & lives. While its sources will be different from other poetry magazines, it will be aiming at the startling & revelatory presentation that has been common to our avant gardes. Along the way we hope

—by exploring the full range of man’s poetries, to enlarge our understanding of what a poem may be

—to provide a ground for experiments in the translation of tribal/oral poetry & a forum to discuss the possibilities & problems of translation from widely divergent cultures

—to encourage poets to participate actively in the translation of tribal/oral poetry

—to encourage ethnologists & linguists to do work increasingly ignored by academic publications in their fields, namely to present the tribal poetries as values in themselves rather than as ethnographic data

—to be a vanguard for the initiation of cooperative projects along these lines between poets, ethnologists, songmen, & others

—to return to complex/”primitive” systems of poetry as (intermedia) performance, etc., & to explore ways of presenting these in translation

—to emphasize by example & commentary the relevance of tribal poetry to where we are today: thus, in Gary Snyder’s words, “to master the archaic & the primitive as models of basic nature-related cultures...knowing that we are the first human beings in history to have all of man’s cultures available to our study, & being free enough of the weight of traditional cultures to seek out a larger identity”

—to assist the free development of ethnic self-awareness among young Indians & others so concerned, by encouraging a knowledgeable, loving respect among them & all people for the world’s tribal past & present —to combat cultural genocide in all its manifestations.

PRELIMINARIES

ALCHERINGA...”dream time” of the Arunta...”The Eternal Dream Time”...(or) “The Dreaming”...of a sacred heroic time long long ago when man & nature came to be...a kind of narrative of things that once happened; a kind of charter of things that still happen; & a kind of logos or principle of order transcending everything significant...the act of dreaming, as reality & symbol, (by which)...the artist is inspired to produce a new song...(by which) the mind makes contact with whatever mystery it is that connects The Dreaming & the Here-&-Now.
—W.E.H. Stanner, “The Dreaming”

what the informant told Franz Boas in 1920 (Keresan)

long ago her mother
had to sing this song and so
she had to grind along with it
the corn people have a song too
it is very good
I refuse to tell it
—Armand Schwerner

The ancient Poets animated all sensible objects with Gods or Geniuses, calling them by names &adorning them with the properties of woods, rivers, mountains, lakes, cities, nations, & whatever their enlarged & numerous senses could perceive.

And particularly they studied the genius of each city & country, placing it under its mental deity;
Til a system was formed, which some took advantage of, & enslaved the vulgar by attempting to realize or abstract the mental deities from their objects: thus began Priesthood;

Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales.

And at length they pronounc’d that the Gods had order’d such things.

Thus men forgot that All deities reside in the human breast.

—William Blake (1790)

Time flows past the permanent central position ... they live at a place called noon, at the center of the world, the only place where space & time intersect.
—Stanley Diamond, from “Anaguta Cosmography” (Nigeria)

O, they were hot for the world they lived in, these Maya, hot to get it down the way it was—the way it is, my fellow citizens.
—Charles Olson

Sioux Vision Event

Go to a mountain-top & cry for a vision.

It was a vast old religion, greater than anything we know: more starkly & nakedly religious...For the whole lifeeffort of man was to get his life into contact with the elemental life of the cosmos, mountain-life, cloud-life, thunder-life, air-life, earth-life, sun-life. To come into immediate felt contact, without an intermediary or mediator, is the root meaning of religion, & at the sacred races, the runners hurled themselves in a terrible cumulative effort, through the air, to come at last into naked contact with the very life of the air, which is the life of thc clouds, & so of the rain.
—D.H. Lawrence

A Wintu Indian Statement on the Ecological Crisis

The White people never cared for land or deer or bear. When we Indians kill meat, we eat it all up. When we dig roots we make little holes. When we build houses, we make little holes. When we burn grass for grasshoppers, we don’t ruin things. We shake down acorns & pinenuts. We don’t chop down the trees. We only use dead wood. But the White people plow up the ground, pull up the trees, kill everything. The tree says, ‘Don’t. I am sore. Don’t hurt me.’ But they chop it down & cut it up. The spirit of the land hates them. They blast out trees & stir it up to its depths. They saw up the trees. That hurts them. The Indians never hurt
anything, but the White people destroy all. They blast rocks & scatter them on the ground. The rock says, Don’t! You are hurting me.’ But the White people pay no attention. When the Indians use rocks, they take little round ones for their cooking...How can the spirit of the earth like the White man?...Everywhere the White man has touched it, it is sore.
—Old woman speaking to Dorothy Lee “in a prophetic vein”

Zuni Cryptogram

teyalanne / ground
tek’inaye / the ground is wet
te’ananne / footprint
teyacchinne / cultivated field
teky’appowanne / hill
tewutso’ya / the weather is clear
tene’’anaye / a strong wind is blowing
tets’enaye / the weather is cold
tehts’inaye / it is winter
telakwayi / spring
tehya / it is valuable
telhasshianne / shrine
teshkwinne / taboo
tewusu / sacred
tewusukky’a / pray
tenanne / song
tepehanne / pottery drum
telapnanne / story
tesshukw’a / yesterday
tehlhi’a / night is coming
tewani / tomorrow
tewankwin / eastward
teyaye / living
tek’ohannanne / daylight
tek’ohannan aaho’’i / daylight people (mankind)

The American Indian is the vengeful ghost lurking in the back of the troubled American mind. Which is why we lash out with such ferocity & passion, so muddied a heart, at the black-haired young peasants & soldiers who are the “Viet Cong.” That ghost will claim the next generation as its own. When this has happened, citizens of the USA will at last begin to be Americans, truly at home on the continent, in love with their land. The chorus of a Cheyenne Ghost Dance song—”hi-niswa’vita’ki’ni”—”We shall live again.”
—Gary Snyder

He who loses his dreaming is lost.
—Australian Aborigine

[Further excerpts from Alcheringa can be found on Jerrold Shiroma's Duration Press web site.]

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Hiromi Itō: Coyote

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 6:59 AM 0 comments
Translation with commentary by Jeffrey Angles

[On the occasion of the publication of Hiromi Ito’s Killing Kanoko: Selected Poems, her first major collection of poems translated into English, published by Action Books in Notre Dame, Indiana. Ito’s poem, “The Matreatment of Meaning,” was posted on Poems and Poetics on January 7, 2009, with commentary and biographical note.]

My grandmother was a medium
My mother was a magician
My mother’s older sister was a geisha
My mother’s younger sister had tuberculosis
My mother’s other younger sister was barren
All were wonderfully beautiful
The spells mother taught me
All required saké, rice, and salt
We were afraid of snakes, water, and the east

My daughter began speaking baby talk at two months
When the coyote speaks to her
She smiles and always responds
The coyote: A dry plain, plain, plain
My daughter: Plain, plain, plain
The coyote: No lying
My daughter: No lying, no lying, no lying
The coyote: Hungry, hungry
My daughter: Hungry too
Coyote: Hah, hah, hah
My daughter: Haaaaaaaa-ohh
My daughter’s father, my father: I wanted to concentrate just on the coyote I wanted to isolate myself, insulate myself, see nothing other than the coyote
And I wanted to trade places with him


The milk flows from my breast bountifully
To fatten my daughter it flows in overabundance, much too much
My grandmother’s milk also flowed bountifully
With it she fattened her four girls and two boys
My mother’s older sister’s milk also flowed bountifully
With it she fattened her three boys
My mother’s milk also flowed bountifully
With it she fattened just me, and the leftover milk flowed out
My mother’s younger sister’s milk also flowed bountifully
With it she fattened her two boys
My mother’s other younger sister nursed and nursed her adopted child
With her milkless breasts until eventually
The milk began to flow from her body
There is so much rain
Everything and anything gets soaked
Inside a damp frame, grandmother’s beautiful smiling face with no eyebrows or teeth
My mother’s older sister’s beautiful face with no chin, teeth, or hair but with large lips
My mother’s younger sister’s beautiful face with fleshy, hairless lashes and no teeth
My mother’s younger sister’s beautiful face with spots and no teeth
My mother’s beautiful face with sagging cheeks, crow’s feet, and no armpit hair nor teeth
But all of them do have breasts that sag

The women all enjoy fondling the babies in the family
My daughter
Is the only female grandchild
Is the only female niece

The words of the women who fondle the babies in the family
Slowly turn to baby talk before our eyes
The women from age ninety to fifty gather
(The ninety year-old has been dead for a decade)
The women sit together and
Begin to speak in baby talk
Gyaaatei
Gyaaatei
Haaraagyaatei
Harasoogyaatei


My grandmother was a medium
My mother was a magician
My mother’s older sister was a geisha
My mother’s younger sister had tuberculosis
My mother’s other younger sister was barren
My grandfather was a paralytic
My mother’s older brother died young
My mother’s younger brother did not speak at all
My father was related to none of them
My mother’s husband and my husband
Vanished right before
I gave birth to my daughter

Coyote: Gyaatei
My daughter: Gyaatei
Coyote: Haaraagyaatei
My daughter: Haraharagyaatei
Coyote: Gyaagyaagyaatei
My daughter: Haragyaatei

The precipitation and humidity this time of year
My mother chants her magical spells
Cursing the humidity
Saké and rain
Rice and rain
Salt and rain
Ordering the water
To flow to the east
Forgive us, oh honorable snake

Saké and rain
Rice and rain
Salt and rain

NOTE ON "COYOTE": In the 1980s, Itō became fascinated with the poetic traditions of Native Americans which she read in the modern, colloquial translations of Kanaseki Hisao. She was struck by the combination of ancient myth and contemporary language, and soon afterward, she tried her own hand at using contemporary spoken language to write in a semi-mythological mode. This poem is one result of that interest.

Shamanism and magic remained an important part of everyday life in the remote regions of Japan until relatively recently. Itō’s grandmother was a shamaness who claimed to speak to the dead, and Itō’s mother claimed to have magical powers and taught her children her spells. This poem explores the mystical connection between Itō and the various generations of women in her family.

The second paragraph of “Coyote” derives its inspiration from the German performance artist Joseph Beuys. In 1974, he came to New York and immediately installed himself in a gallery, where he remained in a small room with a coyote for three days. Beuys later explained his piece, “I wanted to isolate myself, insulate myself, see nothing of America other than the coyote.” Through forging a spiritual connection with this animal, which Native Americans had believed to be divine, Beuys hoped to come to start the process of making amends for the destruction waged upon the culture and environment of the Native Americans.

The exchange between the coyote and the daughter contains a bastardized quote from the Heart Sutra (Hanya shingyō), a short Buddhist sutra which some sects believe to express the essential concepts of the religion. The sutra concludes with a mantra, which if read in Japanese, states “Gyatei Gyatei Haragyatei Harasogyatei Boji Sowaka” (Gone, gone, to the other shore, gone, reach, accomplish enlightenment). In the poem, the coyote and the daughter do not repeat the excerpt from the Heart Sutra accurately. If anything, it becomes a symbol of a sort of mysterious, mystical exchange between them.

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1

Jesus at a wedding
waits for us

monkeys with chains around their legs
surround him

dishes of squabs on table

the strangers come to wash his feet,
tra la they sing

a boy perched at a window
blows a trumpet

cherries & pears along the floor

a single fly

a skull rests at his feet,
a bird over his head


2
A VISION OF THE GODDESS, after cranach

sage & holy
she is sharpening a long stick

while on a swing
a babe sails by

the sky fills up with
warriors on goats & boars

a sleeping dog

a dish of fruit

a castled landscape


3

a man called john,
much like the others,
stands barefoot near a lake
with swans & boats

I turn away from him
& wait,
another year inside my head,
another cycle

then see him, crying
from his cauldron,
sad turks surround him,
warts on their noses

pouring water on his head


4

the priest’s hand underneath
the bishop’s robe

against the rump, the flesh
envelops him & hides

whatever floats around the dancing
twitching jesus

on his altar: heads & hands
tacked onto space

a hand holding a switch
a hand that points

a head propped on a pedestal
a head in mid-air

separated from the crown,
the spear, the rattling dice

under the dancer’s feet
a robe in flames

2.vii.86

[These poems -- ekphrastic in nature -- were recovered, along with numerous others, for a volume of Uncollected Poems to be published in 2010 by Mark Weiss & Junction Press. Additional selections have appeared in earlier postings.]

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Eleni Sikelianos: For a Panel on Poetry & the Environment

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 6:31 AM 0 comments

[Notes for a panel on Poetry and the Environment, 2008. The panel description states: "Global warming, genetic engineering, and extinction are terms heard frequently but how is it that poets are responding to a universe clearly and often detrimentally changing? How might writing about the environment affect a writer's conception of form, process, and the imagination?"]

Whatever the problem is, I am always a part of it.

My cell phone, my jeans, my salmon, my cotton sheets, the dyes to color them green, my car, my commute, my coffee, my hair color, my soap, my book, my lamp light, my laundry, my groceries and my grocery bag, my president, my money, my daughter, my daughter’s diapers, her blocks, her magnets, her dolls — every thing I do or use or touch seems to connect me in turn to a web of destruction. That is the crushing truth of our current existence on this planet.

Our household laws, our eco-nomy are in disorder.
Our household thinking, our eco-logos is bewitched.
We have not yet learned how to embody a new order.

What is my poem’s carbon footprint?

The poem, also, is concerned with webs, and can detonate in an emotional explosion. But the poem, unlike me, is a stealth worker, and can slip through the world undetected. In the wake of the poem, I crash through the world breaking everything the poem has stitched together.

Our great contribution to the exploration of the human psyche, the total investigation of self as center, has now reached the end of plausibility, of possibility. In the new age of biology and weather, we will adapt or we will not. At that point that we no longer adapt we become a closed system. As far as I can tell, closed systems are not living systems.

Another meaning of ecology’s logos: the telling of our tales, our speech, our talk, bringing a deepened sense of reality. For centuries, poems and art have been teaching us how to be in the room(s) of the world and listen. The poet’s ecosystem is one in which we THINK-SEE, where we learn the only way to get it close to “right,” in reading or writing, is to look, and look again. Poems help me move in the distance between the theoretical and the real.

A tree bends, gravity
pursues it, a hound
after its rabbit, the body
takes flight, physics
gives chase

The deep looking the poem requires, the way it questions habits of seeing and of mind, makes me more attentive to relationship and pattern, around and within me. Thus, any poem is an eco-prod.
Any poem is web-work, with world as prey.
Out there is a radial symmetry that the poem reflects.
The poem says, nothing is lateral.
It says, nothing is bilateral.
What catch have you there, web of words?

The lineal confines of language, its pure morphology, moving in straight lines from left to right, forward to back, or right to left, suggest we were hoping to fix a kind of logic/logos there — to understand and express our words in no uncertain terms. Syntax pushes us ahead in the assumption that meaning adds up, as we thrust through time in the arrow’s forward motion. This allows sequential progression, and allows us to strip the economy (household rules) without looking too far forward or back. Numbers tell many stories, but they don’t tell all the stories. Not everything adds up. The simple acts of metaphor or simile pierce the closed system, and suggest simultaneity. We look through the poem’s microscope and see that a cell nucleus resembles a sea urchin. A minute resembles a mitochondria, and it’s our mother’s. These images — of endoplasmic reticulation, of ribosomes and golgi, have always sent me swooning. At first I thought it was because I was destined to be a microbiologist. Early in the math requirements, I discovered that it was the differently arduous path of poetry.

In the economy of the poem, a cardinal is a flying tulip.

In the poem, economy and ecology adhere.

I have never been one for logic, or even Plato, when possibility seems to swarm at every corner, and I cannot see my way to closing the system; but I have been one for naming and systems of naming, for nets of belonging where word may slip from thing to thing but the aim is: no possible thing is ever lost.

Words are, language is, despite our demands upon it, its own ecosystem, its own wild collection of species and mutations. It growls, it pounces, it purrs, it grovels, its populations rely on each other, they die out, they explode. Language comes from the world, the human and animal and planetary household which birthed it. Each possible word, even our ofs and our ands, is itself webbed to the world, and this is its further and perhaps its ideal logic. This evolutionary symbiosis of the word stuns me.

Early on, I loved leafing through biology and oceanography books, magnetized by the richness of language and forms found there. These pages were haunted by Linnaeus, the father of taxonomy, and his invention of naming, ranking and classifying organisms — a system that has completely permeated our worldview. According to Canadian anthropologist Hugh Brody, most hunter-gatherer languages don’t have categorical words, like fish or tree; they have specific words, like trout, salmon, perch, elm, maple, aspen, but not the broad-stroke word under which all these words fall. (Whence comes the cliché that the Inuit language has a hundred words for “snow”; in fact, it has no word for snow; instead it has many specific words for types of snow.) Apparently ours (i.e., this English) is no longer a hunter-gatherer language. What does that mean in terms of consciousness, how we approach the world? As I was working on The California Poem, a long aggregate that wallows in the excesses and losses of my home state, it began to occur to me that our basic bilateral symmetry might have led us to thinking about language and the world in a bilateral way. As you know, we’re based on a mirror plan (except for the heart and mistakes), and language, too, is a mirror plan, enantiomorphically reflecting the world. That is, like the body in a mirror, they do no match up, tree and word, when superimposed. I began to wonder what kind of language the ocean animals I’ve always loved— an animal of pentamerous radial symmetry like the cnidaria (which include the jellyfish), or echinoderms (starfish, urchins) — would make, given that their symmetry is radial — a kind of infinite and round possibility, when you can be sliced in any direction and still have more or less matching halves. (Some animals, too, like certain scallops and sea hares, have what you might call radial sexuality.) How would a radial language change the world? Does bilateral language lead us to in/out, dark/light, tyger/lamb? I’ve often heard language described as a technology, but it could more aptly be described as a living, protean organism, not unrelated to other zoological forms or ecosystems. How dependent is the one on the other?

The dancer Martha Graham once claimed that her time as a child amidst Santa Barbara, California’s lush flora had a profound impact on her method of dance. Growing up in that same town, the authority of the Pacific Ocean (a few blocks away) held powerful sway, shaping my sense of sound, language, mystery and beauty.

The sea is like God’s big eye, where the edges of our own eyes bleed into the ocean, in saline ratio and roundness.

It expresses an indifferent monotony that might resemble what really happens in anyone’s day. Alongside the quotidian, it also experiences event and catastrophe, the other major forms of meaning-making in our lives.

The animals and processes and elements around us show us how to work within the altogether different-from-them media of language and thought. Whereas air might represent the silence and breezes in a poem, and light might travel in some of the same telemetrics as syntax, the sea shows how meaning accretes in rhythm and sound; beads of language repeat, resifted again and again to articulate pattern, cycle, recurrence. (The sea’s thought is not unlike the imagination of the poem.)

I first came to poetry as a sound, a music that is neither the melody of speech nor the melody of what we generally call music, but its own song that shifts and hovers needle-like between the sounds of the human world and the various noises out there, like the hissing in outer space that is the aftermath of the big bang. Language, when it pushes toward a poem, gathers around frictions and rhythms in syllables. While we read the poem silently to ourselves, an orchestra crashes around inside the skull bones as k’s and t’s cacophonize and d’s and e’s euphonize. I feel intuitively certain that human language developed along the lines of the surrounding soundscape. “From the snapping of twigs, we learned k’s and t’s.” The poet Louis Zukofsky points out that Shakespeare hears the birds in lines like “Bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang” (Sonnet 73).

“To float the ear in beauty” listen to the sea.

The musical horizon of poetry, which depends on the human voice “permits anybody”…”to ‘tune in’ to the human tradition, to its voice which has developed among the sounds of natural things, and thus escape the confines of time and place” (Zukofsky, Prepositions, 20). So says Zukofsky in “A Statement for Poetry.” They say you can hear the sea crashing in Homer’s Greek. You can most certainly hear it in Whitman’s English:

Soothe! soothe! soothe!
Close on its wave soothes the wave behind,
And again another behind embracing and lapping, every one close
But my love soothes not me, not me.

I’m not the first to suggest Whitman learned form, the shape of his strophe, from the long breath of the sea, and the line’s variation from the raggedy tides. In Whitman, language, like water, is loving each rock and syllable as it comes in. Syncopation might be offered by a Roseate Tern (a bird almost wiped out in the 1880’s for millinery supplies), whose cries conjoint with the waves’ might be comparable to the strange protuberances in a line’s rhythm. Like a wave, a line can come in quietly, or a line can screech, “like some old crone rocking the cradle…” At the edges of this continent, we hear Whitman’s push and recession of sound. Hush and roar, hush and roar.

Poetry, according to Zukofsky, is “precise information on existence out of which it grows, and information of its own existence, that is the movement (and tone) of words. Rhythm, pulse, keeping time with existence, is the distinction of its technique.”

How do we keep time with existence in a human era that seems to be bent on wiping most life forms, and even a number of elementary forces, out?

We come back to the poem, to the world, to these complex adaptive systems.

Systems that adapt to change, despite the absence of central control.

Marked by non-linearity.

Let us consider how the blood vessels in a wolf’s paw pads are specialized to increase circulation so a wolf may walk on the ice without freezing her feet. Then let us consider the rest of the wolf — her leg, her belly, her muzzle, her caribou, her world, her winter, her field mouse, her fox.

We quickly see that each point on the body, each point on earth or in space, each point in the poem can be infinitely expanded in thought and study, proliferating information and meaning.

And we see that we cannot see the wolf as the caribou sees her or even as a human standing on the ground 100 feet away sees her. We have not a consistent light, system, set of conditions. So, the poem. So, the world.

Like consciousness
the whole never equals the parts

And here is the poem. A thing I will never fully understand, its adaptive syntax, grammar, its submerged intentions, and here is how I love it — darkened not by mind or by time, but darkened and brightened, like extra control knobs on the TV screen, by complexity and mystery.

Open systems loop into each other. No ocean, no poem, no black-footed ferret population is a closed system.

Poetry inhabits both the foreground “reality” as well as all the dark creases and folds of possibility between (linguistic and other) realities. It is a parallel universe (universes), although one that doesn’t require mathematical formulae … and I can misapprehend the science in my apprehension of language and the world. Like science, it is both theoretical and real, and perhaps unlike some forms of science, is not so concerned with the division between these states — actually, poetry collapses the border between the theoretical and the real.

Language is the only place we have some animals left.
(Act, actor.)

[Eleni Sikelianos is the author of The Monster Lives of Boys & Girls (for which she recieved the National Poetry Series Award), Earliest Worlds, The Book of Tendons, The Lover's Numbers, To Speak While Dreaming, The California Poem, and The Book of Jon. Her most recent book is Body Clock (Coffee House Press, 2008).]

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Poets in Society: A Reconsideration

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 7:14 AM 0 comments

Written for the People’s Poetry Gathering, New York, 2003,
& previously unpublished


Artists and poets are inextricably in society. This is both our opportunity and our doom. And even when we think of ourselves as in the margins or on the fringes or alienated or outsiders, these are all social terms and we are all of us social creatures. We are also, as poets, sharers of a common language, in the shaping and reshaping of which we put ourselves forward as hyperconscious players/actors/agents. That there are other agents, with more power over the means of dissemination, may be our misfortune, but we seem to persevere in spite of that. By doing what we do we call their language (& their world) into question, and this forms the basis of what we think of, hopefully or foolishly, as our counterpoetics.

I have never written a poem that wasn’t a response or a comment on the world in which I live and the language that I (and we) use in that living. I have never written a poem without a politics at center. At the same time I have recognized myself as a poor purveyor of what’s called “political poetry.” By this I mean poetry that purports to act as a rallying cry – not to convince the unconvinced but to affirm the convinced in their conviction. I have lived through enough bad times to have tried my hand & voice at this among other forms of composition, and I’ve conceded that others (poets and near-poets) do it far better than I do.

In a recent interview, the following question was asked of me:

It is frequent to hear claims about the impossibility of an avant-garde today, as well as complaints about the scarcity & poorness of contemporary poetical production. I feel that "Millenium" brings a more positive stance, emphasizing the possibilities, the "revolutions of the word" still to come, not their closure. Thinking specifically of the international experimental traditions you gather in "Millenium", do you see that poe(lit)ical movements are possible or desirable today? If they exist, where would they be occurring?

My response follows.

It’s my belief that those “revolutions” are inherent to poetry as we’ve made it & will continue to be so into the foreseeable future -- as long, at least, as ideas of freedom & transformation (change) remain a part of our outlook over all. I don’t say that with any certainty, however, because revolutions are an area in which authority – the wisdom or the will to get it done – is, unlike some other things, a matter for the very young. So while I feel, as ever, ready for those kinds of revolution, it’s not for me to say.

Revolution – if that’s still the going word – is something more than a change of style or fashion. So when you’re playing with the words & come up with a portmanteau like poe(lit)ical, you’re hitting on the dual characteristics (poetical & political) of what was once the avant-garde & certainly the avant-garde of art & poetry that formed itself as movements. For those in the early days of experimental modernism – Futurists & Surrealists & Dadas – the ambition was to transform society & consciousness together, & it was only when the social transformation was separated from the poetic one (under the pressures of communism on the left & fascism on the right) that the avant-garde project put itself in question. In the post-World War II time, the poets of the avant-garde – whatever avant-garde there was – were no longer so quick to place their art, as the Surrealists once had it, “at the service of the revolution.” The general tone, as in words from the Cobra poet Christian Dotremont that we cite in Poems for the Millennium, was “against all isms, against all that implied a system.” This meant – for many – a politics against a politics, but with a leftward tilt & keeping, over all, a freedom of occasion – where & when to act. And the occasions included a widespread opposition to war & to resurgent forms of nationalism & racism, but also a reawakened sense of the poet as a spokesperson for peoples & species under siege.

The result by the 1960s was the appearance of a new “dialectics of liberation,” political & personal & marked by a sense of resistance, of breaking free (in word & act, mind & body), while retaining a more-than-formalist conception of the poem as vehicle-for-transformation. As Allen Ginsberg wrote, drawing from an older source: “When the mode of the music changes, the walls of the city shake.” And the Japanese “postwar poets” (in a “demand” voiced by Ooka Makoto): “Bring back totality through poetry.”

That anyway was where I found poetry – in the days in particular of the postwar & the cold war. Even in a movement, say, like that of the American “language poets” – the emphasis falling on that key word “language” – the underlying issues remained political & existential. Indeed, as Charles Bernstein put it, “In order to fully develop the meaning of a formal rupture or extension, we need a synoptic, multilevel, interactive response that accounts, in hopefully unconventional antiauthoritative ways, for sexual, class, local-historical, biographical, & structural dimesnions of a poem.” Or, in Ron Silliman’s words, which still ring true to me: “[A] critique of reference and normative syntax ... situated within the larger question of what, in the last part of the twentieth century, it means to be human.”

Other movements, like those grouped around ethnic & gender identity, were & remain more overtly agenda-driven & sometimes, from my perspective at least, lose the sense of how a “revolution of the word” relates to those other revolutions. But even here, as I’ve stated above, there are language questions at issue – black voices / white voices, female voices / male voices, dialects & dialectics, written word & shouted word. Such language issues – the whole slew of them & more – are still the heart of our poetics, though what the future holds is never amenable to easy guessing or glib prophecy. Certainly, as I see it, the work is far from done, & the challenge of a poetry & a counterpoetics is as much needed as ever. That in the end it may be a largely losing proposition is also possible, but I can only act as if it isn’t.

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Project: Compatibility & Mutual Relevance, Anthropology/Literature.
Co-ordinated project: Amerindian Poetry.
Previous Ref.: 4/12-13/1970, Notre Dame Literary Festival: File UK101GS
Loc.: 30 Jefferson Road, Princeton, N.J. 4/12/1971, 19h.-24. 30 h.

(From discussion on “Young America” & its greening, or not,
(File UK101GS), into:)

GS: Don’t let’s call it an interview, make it a conversation.

(Intention to write an article; providential visit of Informant: “Well, it is an interview…in a sense it’s anthropology….” Pause, Kherdian on his concern with Amerindians in early teens. Did he ever meet any?)

GS: Yes, on this farm about 20 miles north of Seattle, when I was about 12. An old Indian came around in a truck selling smoked salmon. We also saw many Indians at the Farmers’ Market in Seattle. No, I don’t remember talking to them. But I do remember clearly realizing at the age of 5 or 6 that these were prior people. My parents said the old salmon-seller was here before them. I saw few other children and spent most of my time in the woods. When I asked questions about the landscape, plants, birds, etc. my parents couldn’t answer. I thought perhaps they hadn’t been there long enough. Then there were the Indian villages along Puget Sound. I became very conscious of the history of the American Continent, the shortness of occupation-time: the State of Washington was wild before 1860 or so. My sense of the Indian became very intense with this reading and the sense of what the White man had done to the land and to the Indians both came together very soon and aroused a sense of outrage.

(Realization that I sd. have had a tape-recorder. “You realize, I’ve got to reconstitute this conversation, er, interview, I’ve got to write Snyder.” Feverish note-taking: hand no longer used to it. “What did your parents contribute to this orientation?”)

GS: My father was a N.W. man, working on ships before he met my mother: as a coal-passer, then a purser. My mother had come up with her mother from Texas. She was working her way through College writing classes. She wrote a lot, got into journalism. She was the literary one, but they both provided a background of political radicalism and non-conformism, sharpened by the Depression. A sense of detachment and a critical eye for your own culture may help you towards Anthropology.

(“There’s going to be mile on mile of interpretation by and by. I think it’s best to add the facts. Who taught you Anthropology? What excited you most about the courses and why?”)

GS: I was onto this wilderness and Anthropology thing very early. As a teenager, I subscribed to the journal of the Wilderness Society: “the Living Wilderness”. I’d write Congressmen about danger from timber companies on public lands; danger from bounties on coyotes. I saw the treatment of Indians and this land exploitation as the same old rip-off. My parents made the identification with Capitalism. My parents broke up when I was about 12, 13 and somehow I was left alone in the City. Yes, Portland. I made a bunch of city-urchin adaptations to a wildlife. I kept my freedom by looking after myself, paying my own rent and so on. Worked as a copy boy on a newspaper from 4 to midnight: my mother had helped me. The newspaper men liked me and showed me the insides of the City: the courts, the jails, the city government: a nitty-gritty kind of education. Yes, a kind of sociology already. I’d gotten into High School and I knew I wanted to stay with it whatever else happened. Out of this tumultuous career, there were poems - a teacher showed them to a College friend; I got into Reed on my poetry alone. My first I was a bad student. After that it was o.k.

(Anthropology at Reed?)

GS: A one-man Department: David French. He’s still at Reed. He eventually became an ethnobotanist mainly and editor of the American Journal of Ethnobotany. His interest was in the Wasco and Wishram Indians on the Warm Springs reservation east of Mt. Hood. Took several courses over 4 years: Intro. to Ethnological Theory; Culture & Personality; Introduction to Linguistics; Physical Anthropology; Far Eastern Ethnology; Amerindian Ethnology. I enjoyed them.

(Remembering my own plethora of teachers and places, but had gone into it for religion, myth, weltanschauung: systems/what made them tick: from Griaule, Levy and Levi-Strauss in Paris to Redfield in Chicago. “What was your main interest?”)

GS: Mythology-folklore-linguistics. I did a tutorial reading course with French on this; he didn’t teach it formally. Went through the Scandinavian classical material thoroughly, the Stith Thompson stuff on folklore classification, some Jessup North Pacific Expedition material, Boas on Tsmishian Mythology, Swanton....No, not much Mesoamerican: I had a strong sense of the North West.

(Any conflict at this stage between Anthropological and Literary studies? cf.: easy to talk poetry and anthro. at Chicago in the same breath but back among the British Socio. Anths.: wow!)

GS: No: mythology and literature get along well. No conflict.

(Thesis? Is it available; has any one seen it?)

GS: Reed requires a B.A. thesis. Mine’s called “Dimensions of a Myth”. I like it: it’s indicative of much of what happens in my poetry later whatever it’s worth or not as anthropology. One Ph.D. candidate is looking at it. I have to give you a permit.

(Writes out permit on spot. “Did you ever do any field work?”)

GS: No, never formally. But I hung out a lot on the Warm Springs reservation collecting folktales pretty formally: noting, taping, typing. In the summers of 51 and 54. I also did some winter seasons as a student but didn’t use the material in the thesis. Then I worked as a logger (in 54) and got more information - it went in the “Berry Feast” piece. I hitched around and hung around and got onto very intimate terms with Indians.

(Powerful reminiscences of a great time. Smile. We agree to cool some of the talk. O.K. self-censorship. “Why did you put some of those Reviews into Earth House Hold? They strike me as Juvenilia, perhaps not worth reprinting?”)

GS: Well, Juvenilia yes, but they’re not as superficial as they might appear. They were done while I was studying Chinese: no credits involved. For “Midwest Folklore”. The Clark piece is a put-down of course. I’ve never seen any bad reviews of it and yet it’s a bad book. I really wanted to suggest that unexpurgated texts are needed rather than bowdlerized ones. But the Jaime do Angulo: well no one in Anthropology wrote a serious piece about A. But Jaime de Angulo you must realize was a great culture hero on the West Coast. He was a Spaniard with a Paris M.D., came to the South West, quit the army to live with Indians, moved to California. Self-taught linguist, a good one. He never had a regular appointment, he was just too wild. Burned a house down one night when drunk, rode about naked on a horse at Big Sur, member of the Native American Church, great friend of Jeffers - the only man Jeffers ever allowed to visit him day or night. No: I never met him or Jeffers. So: at the end of World War II, Jaime de Angulo was one of the few people alive to jazz up California. These reviews have more meaning than you think in terms of literary culture.

(Have to cool a wee bit more about J. de A’s exploits. Ah the secret within the secret within the secret! “Well, this is bringing us to Indiana...”)

GS: I wanted to go to Indiana to develop the study of oral literature, to study oral literature as style, as raconteur technique - yes, o.k., narrative technique. In summer 51 I’d been on the reservation. Then in the fall of 51 I had this fellowship. I only stayed one semester.

(Where was everybody at certain times? NT at Chicago working up to the Maya. When was Charles Olson at Yucatan? And Black Mountain...I think Black Mountain starting just about when NT leaving for the Maya. Why was I never told? “Who did you work with at Indiana?”)

GS: Well, Charles Vogelin, Thomas Sebeok, Fred Householder and a fine ethnomusicologist George Herzog.

And Dell Hymes...

(
Strong reaction. Ha! Saw DH at Sussex ASA about 2-3 years ago. Conference on Linguistics: I’d already quit. Asked DH about whom to contact to get material on the secret history of the anthropoets and he was full of suggestions. GS pleased about conference.)

GS: Dell was at Reed, one year ahead of me and, or course, at Indiana one year ahead. He helped to get me to Indiana. He was my roommate for that semester. This putting of people in touch with each other: About 4 or 5 years ago, I put Stanley Diamond in touch with Jerry Rothenberg (I’d been corresponding with Jerry for about 10 years) and it was Dell who had put Stanley in touch with me. And now we’re altogether on the editorial board of Alcheringa ...

(“This reminds me that in 51 there was this great Wenner Gren thing in N.Y. Levi-Strauss was so surprised to see me in the corridors - I’d worked with him three years but we’d hardly exchanged as many words - that he took me for a drink along with Roman Jakobson. Do you remember about this?)

GS: No, but come to think of it I remember Sebeok talking to us about the great Anthrolinguists conference at Indiana. That must have come before it?

(Up and down the East Coast after Yale and before Chicago: Kardiner in N.Y., Stirling at the Smithsonian, Stewart and Kroeber at Columbia (Kroeber: “Young man, if you’re going to Chicago, you’ll need a thick scarf ”) ... back in Yale: Murdock and Linton who could not help me get on out from under Jefferson and American Democracy: Orientation! “O.K., we’re getting to the crunch: why did you quit?” We already both know this part by heart, I guess. ..)

GS: I decided to quit because it became evident that the things I wanted to do would be better done in poetrythan in scholarship. The economic reasons for a scholarly career weren’t incentive enough. At the magicsuperstitious level, let’s say the Muse is jealous. She won’t tolerate you having several mistresses. A commitment is required. On the practical level - Dell and I talked about this a lot, Dell was going through the same kind of thing - well if you’re going to do a good job it’s got to be whole time. I believe in scholarship if that’s what you want but it has to be well done. A Ph.D. in Anthropology is demanding. I did think about getting the Ph.D. and then quitting, but it seemed to me that the kind of effort one put into getting a Ph.D. was essentially repetitive...like proving some sort of point, almost like showing off. It wasn’t an easy decision. And I’m not sure I’ve found anyone to do what it was I wanted to do ...


[The interview by Tarn was structured by him into something more than an interview, a dialogue in which either participant might be the one who made the transition “from anthropologist to informant.” The work in this form appeared originally in Alcheringa, the journal of ethnopoetics edited by myself and Dennis Tedlock, from which further excerpts can be found at the Duration Press web site. The second part of the conversation will appear in a later posting on Poems and Poetics. (J.R.)]

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Nakahara Chuya: Three Poems Newly Englished

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 7:37 AM 0 comments










Translations from Japanese by Jerome Rothenberg & Yasuhiro Yotsumoto

A BONE

Look at this, it’s my bone,
a tip of bone torn from its flesh,
filthy, filled up with woes,
it’s the days of our lives
sticking out, a blunt bone
bleached by the rain.

There’s no shine to it,
innocent, stupidly white,
absorbing the rain,
blown back by the wind,
just barely
reflecting the sky.

Funny imagining, seeing
this bone on a chair
in a restaurant
packed to the gills, & eating
mitsuba leafy & boiled,
a bone but alive.

Look at this, it’s my bone,
& is that me staring
& wondering: Strange,
was my soul left behind
& has it come back
where its bone is,
daring to look?

On the half dead grass
on the bank of a brook
in my home town, standing
& looking – who’s there?
Is it me? A bone
sticking out
a bone stupidly white
& high as a billboard.


AUTUMN POEM

1

The field until yesterday
was burning now
it stretches under clouds
& sky unmindful.
And they say the rain
each time it comes
brings autumn that much
closer even more so
autumn borne cicadas
sing out everywhere,
nesting sometimes in a tree
awash in grass.

I smoke a cigarette,
smoke spiraling
through stale air,
I try & try
to stare
at the horizon.
Can’t be done,
The ghosts of heat
& haze
stand up or flop down.
And I find myself alone there,
squatting.

A cloudy sky
dark golden light
plays off now
as it always was,
so high I can’t help
looking down.
I tell you that I live
resigned to ennui,
drawing from my cigarette
three different tastes.
Death may no longer be
so far away.

2

“He did, he said so long & then
he walked away, he walked out from that door,
the weird smile that he wore, shiney like brass,
his smile that didn’t look like someone living.

His eyes like water in a pond the color when it clears,
or something. He talked like someone somewhere else.
Would cut his speech up into little pieces.
He used to think of little things that didn’t matter.”

“Yes, just like that. I wonder if he knew that he was dying.
He would laugh and tell you that the stars became him
when he stared at them. And that was just a while ago.


………………………

A while ago. Swore that the clogs that he was wearing weren’t his.”

3

The grass was absolutely still,
and over it a butterfly was flying.
He took it all in from the veranda,
stood there dressed in his yukata.
And I, you know, would watch him
from this angle. Staring after it,
that yellow butterfly. I can remember now
the whistles of the tofu vendors
back and forth, the telephone pole
clear against the evening sky.
Then he turned back to me and said “I ...
yesterday, I flipped a stone over that weighed
maybe a hundred pounds.” And so I asked
“how come? and where was that?”
Then you know what? He kept on staring at me,
straight into my eyes, like he was getting mad,
or something … That’s when I got scared.

How strange we are before we die …


PROSE POEM: NEVER TO RETURN

Kyoto

World’s end, the sunlight that fell down to earth was warm, a warm wind blowing through the flowers.

On a wooden bridge, the dust that morning silent, a mailbox red & shining all day long, a solitary baby carriage on the street, a lonely pinwheel.

No one around who lived there, not a soul, no children playing there, & I with no one near or dear to me, no obligation but to watch the color of the sky above a weathervane.

Not that I was bored. The taste of honey in the air, nothing substantial but enough to eat & live from.

I was smoking cigarettes, but only to enjoy their fragrance. And weirdly I could only smoke them out of doors.

For now my worldly goods consisted of a single towel. I didn’t own a pillow, much less a futon mattress. True I still had a tooth brush, but the only book I owned had nothing but blank pages. Still I enjoyed the heft of it when I would hold it in my hands from time to time.

Women were lovely objects but not once did I try to go with one. It was enough to dream about them.

Something unspeakable would urge me on, & then my heart, although my life was purposeless, started pounding with a kind of hope.

*
*

In the woods was a very strange park, where women, children & men would stroll by smiling wildly. They spoke a language I didn’t understand & showed emotions I couldn’t unravel.

Looking up at the sky, I saw a spider web, silver & shining.

[Over a short lifetime, Nakahara Chuya (1907-1937) was a major innovator along lines originally shaped by Dada and other, earlier forms of European, largely French, experimental poetry. In 1997, as part of an annual poetry festival in his home prefecture of Yamaguchi, I came to his grave along with a group of Japanese poet-companions, to celebrate the 60th year of his death and the 90th of his birth. The poem marking that time, “At the Grave of Nakahara Chuya,” appeared a few years later in A Paradise of Poets and included a fake “translation” in what I took to be his style, or one of them, that brought some of his work into the domain of popular Japanese music. The three poems presented above are from a more recent attempt at actual translation, but a part of the earlier poem-song can also appear here as a further homage:

As sportscoats are to toothpaste
as the boa is to scales
as black teeth are to playful ghosts
as seasons are to smiles

As telephones are to toasters
as angels are to air
as wagon wheels are to ups & downs
as horses are to fire

As Buddha is to Buddha
as a toenail is to glass
as the way we make love is tight like that
as ascensions are to cash

As harbors are to hairpins
as napoleons are to joy
as bicycles are to icicles
bones are to a dada boy]

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Frances Densmore: American Indian Songs (Part Two)

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 4:23 AM 0 comments
Translations selected by Kenneth Rexroth

PAWNEE

Buffalo Dance Song

He said, Unreal the buffalo is standing.
These are his sayings.
Unreal the buffalo is standing,
Unreal he stands in the open space.
Unreal he is standing.

Spring Song

Spring is opening.
I can smell the different perfumes
Of the white weeds used in the dance.

Dream Song

Beloved, it is good,
He is saying quietly,
The thunder, it is good.

Ghost Dance Song

The yellow star has noticed me.
Furthermore, it gave me
A standing yellow feather,
That yellow star.


MENOMINEE

Dream Song

In the heavens
A noise,
Like the rustling of the trees.

Love Song

I will keep on Courting
Until morning.


TETON SIOUX

Steam Lodge Song of the Sun Dance Ceremony

A voice,
I will send.
Hear me!
The land
All over,
A voice
I am sending!
Hear me!
I will live!

War Song

A wolf
I considered myself.
But I have eaten nothing,
Therefore
From standing
I am tired out.
A wolf
I considered myself
But The owls
Are hooting,
And,
I fear the night.

Song on Applying War Paint

At the center of the earth
I stand,
Behold me!
At the wind center
I stand,
Behold me!
A root of medicine
Therefore I stand,
At the wind center
I stand.

Song after Battle

The old men say
The earth only
Endures.
You spoke truly,
You are right.

Song after Battle

As the young men went by
I was looking for him.
It surprises me anew
That he has gone.
It is something
To which I cannot be reconciled.
Owls hoot at me.
Owls hoot at me.
That is what I hear
In my life.
Wolves howl at me.
Wolves howl at me.
That is what I hear
In my life.


PAPAGO

Downy white feathers
Are moving beneath
The sunset
And along the edge of the world.

The morning star is up.
I cross the mountains
Into the light of the sea.

A white mountain is far at the west.
It stands beautiful.
It has brilliant white arches of light
Bending down towards the earth.

Healing Song

The sun is rising.
At either side a bow is lying.
Beside the bows are lion babies.
The sky is pink.
That is all.

The moon is setting.
At either side are bamboos for arrow making.
Beside the bamboos are wildcat babies.
They walk uncertainly.
That is all.

The sun is slowly departing.
It is slower in its setting.
lack bats will be swooping
When the sun is gone.
That is all.

The spirit children are beneath.
They are moving back and forth.
They roll in play
Among tufts of white eagle down.
That is all.


In the great night my heart will go out.
Toward me the darkness comes rattling.
In the great night my heart will go out.

Song of an Old Woman in the Cold

No talking, no talking.
The snow is falling.
And the wind seems to be blowing backward.

Song for the Puberty Rite of a Girl Named Cowaka

A poor man takes the songs in his hand
And drops them near the place where the sun sets.
See, Cowaka, run to them and take them in your hand,
And place them under the sunset.


YUMAN AND YAQUI

The water bug is drawing
The shadows of the evening
Toward him on the water.

*

In Cocori is a young girl
Whose name is Hesucita.
She is a pretty girl.
Her eyes look like stars.
Her pretty eyes are like stars moving.

*

The owl was requested
To do as much as he knew how.
He only hooted and told of the morning star.
And hooted again and told of the dawn.

*

The bush Is sitting
Under a tree And singing.

*

The deer
Looks at a flower.

[Kenneth Rexroth’s introduction to Densmore’s translations of American Indian song-poems appeared earlier on Poems & Poetics, and the first part of his selection from her work was posted on November 9, 2009.]

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Poet Power: A Forgotten Manifesto from the 1960s

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 12:06 AM 0 comments

Jointly written by the undersigned and published as a letter to the New York Review of Books in 1968. Reprinted here for the historical record.

To the Editors:

We assembled poets respectable enough to travel across the planet to Stony Brook hereby announce to the public that we are all victims of closed vision, crippled mechanical consciousness, and bad poetry mouthed by all governments and propagandized thru controlled mass media.

That police state military tyranny, sexual repression and laws against expansion of consciousness by joyful music naked dance and high natural herbs threaten further evolution of the race. Joy to all poets' wives and lovers in every country (Herbert).

That no government except the invisible commune of poetry has become conscious that man's usurpation over all nature is an egotism that will destroy human as well as whale kingdoms thru ecological disruption of the planet surface.

That revolutions of consciousness manifested in human society by younger generations present should be protected from armed dinosaur repression and black magic violence perpetrated by the state; that everywhere Stony Brook to Vietnam the state is the cause and source of violence, state violence is preventing peaceful change. Student violence exacerbates some people (Cooperman). Poets fighting on suburban lawns drunk is also real. (Ginsberg).

That Black Power is the active American conscience, the African soul rising within our nation to force the European soul to love and the marriage of races in a new humanity. We must all work for the wedding of Asia and our continent. For Asia sulks in rejection and pride and only begins to roar in pain (Duncan)—that Black Power is an ideal vision of African Divinity resurrected to save the white rational races from suffocating the entire planet in dung colored gas—We ask return to true tribal structure in which men use society rather than be used. (Oppenheimer)—

That the U.S. utopian* war against attempted state* utopias in China and Cuba as well as Vietnam is a bring down for the entire human race—that good old Dr. Spock and friends have made pure poetic statement aiding and abetting younger bodies to avoid War Theater, that the assembled poets commit the same holy deed.—

That the new consciousness articulated by longhair revolutionary student generations Prague New York Paris Madrid Santiago everywhere on earth begins the fulfillment of human anarchy (withering away of state [Guellivic]) and communal utopia prophesized by poets for millenia—Academies should return to wisdom study in tree groves rather than robot study in plastic cells—Bless the Universe!

By Ed Sanders, A.J.M. Smith, Allen Ginsberg, Allen Planz, Ann London, Anselm Hollo, Anthony Hecht, Clayton Eshleman, Czeslaw Milosz, Dan Rowe, Denise Levertov, Donald Hall, Donald Justice, Eduardo de Olivera, G.E. Kimball, George A. Williams, George Hitchcock, George Quasha, Holly Stevens, J.D. Reed, Jerome Rothenberg, Jim Harrison, Joel Oppenheimer, John Logan, Louis Simpson, Jackson MacLow, Milton Kessler, Nicanor Parra, Robert Duncan, Robert Vas Dias, Ron Loweinsohn, Stanley Cooperman, T. Weiss, Tim Reynolds, Tom Gatten, Zbigniew Herbert

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Probably written 1881-83

THE MOTHERLESS INFANT

The Man has a Baby. The Baby is Three weeks Old. Its Mamma Died two Years ago. Poor little Baby! Do you not Feel Sorry for It?

THE MUD

The Mud is in the Street. The Lady has on a pair of Red Stockings. She is Trying to Cross the Street. Let us all give Three cheers for the Mud.

THE GUN

This is a gun. Is the Gun loaded? Really, I do not know. Let us Find out. Put the Gun on the table, and you, Susie, blow down one barrel, while you, Charlie, blow down the other. Bang! Yes, it was loaded. Run quick, Jennie, and pick up Susie's head and Charlie's lower Jaw before the Nasty Blood gets over the New carpet.

THE COAL-HOD

Oh, how nice and Black the Coal-Hod is! Run, children, Run quick and put your Little Fat hands in it. Mercy me, your Hands are as Black as the Coal-Hod now! Hark! Mamma is Coming. She will spank you when she Finds your Hands so Dirty. Better go and Rub the Black Dirt off on the Wall Paper before she Comes.

THE NAUGHTY RAT

The Rat is Gnawing at the Baby's Ear. The Baby is in the cradle, and is so Little it cannot Help itself. Oh, how Piteously it is Crying! The Rat does not care a Cent, and keeps Eating away at the Baby's Ear. When it gets this Ear eaten off it will Crawl over the Baby's neck and eat the other Ear. Where is the Baby's Mamma? She is Down in the Back Yard Talking over the fence to the neighbors about her New Dress. You must Tell your Mamma never to Leave you Alone in the Cradle, or a Rat may Eat off your Poor little Ears.

SLEEPY KITTY

The Cat is Asleep on the Rug. Step on her Tail and See if she will Wake up. Oh, no; She will not wake. She is a heavy Sleeper. Perhaps if you Were to saw her Tail off with the Carving knife you might Attract hr attention. Suppose you try.

THE AWFUL BUGABOO

Oh, what a Bad Mamma to Leave Little Esther allAlone in the Dark Room. No wonder Esther is Crying. She is afraid a Big Bugaboo will come down the Chimney and Eat her up. Bugaboos like to Eat little Children. Did you ever see a Bugaboo with its Big Fire Eyes and Cold Teeth all over Blood? The next Time Mamma leaves you Alone in a Dark room, perhaps One will Come to Eat you.

THE DEEP WELL

The Well is very Dark and Deep. There is Nice Cool Water in the Well. If you Lean way Over the Side, maybe you will Fall in the Well and down in the Dear Water. We will Give you some Candy if you will Try. There is a Sweet Little Birdie in the bottom of the Well. Your Mamma would be Surprised to find you in the Well, would she not?

THE WASP

See the Wasp. He has pretty yellow Stripes around his Body, and a Darning Needle in his Tail. If you Will Pat the Wasp upon the Tail, we will Give You a Nice Picture Book.

THE HIRED GIRL

This is an Hired girl. She has Something in her Hand. It is a Can, and there is Coal Oil inside. The Hired Girl is going to Light a Fire in the Kitchen Stove. She has been Disappointed in Love, and Desires to Die. She will Put some of the Oil in the Stove, and Light it with a Match. In about half a Minute she will be Twanging a Gold Harp among the Elect in Heaven.

THE POET

Who is this Creature with Long Hair and a Wild Eye? He is a poet. He writes Poems on Spring and Women's Eyes and Strange, unreal Things of that Kind. He is always Wishing he was Dead, but he wouldn't Let anybody Kill him if he could Get away. A mighty good Sausage Stuffer was Spoiled when the Man became a Poet. He would Look well Standing under a Descending Pile Driver.

THE SEWING MACHINE

Here is a Sewing Machine. It was Made for little Children to Play with. Put your Feet on the Treadle and Make the Wheels go round Fast.See how the Thread unwinds and the Needle bobs up and down! This is Lots of Fun. Do not Deny baby the privilege of Putting his Fat little Finger under the Needle. It will Make pretty holes in the Finger and give Baby something to occupy his Attention for a Long time.

AN EPITAPH

Here lies the body of Mary Ann,
Who rests in the bosom of Abraham.
It's all very nice for Mary Ann,
But it's mighty tough on Abraham.

EDITOR’S NOTE. Passed along to me by Alan Sondheim, together with other nineteenth-century possibilities. If I wasn’t able to use Field in Poems for the Millennium, volume three, Sondheim’s appraisal still sticks with me: “There is - and you must know this - Eugene Field as well, at the end of the 19th century - an odd anti-romantic. I've retyped several pieces and sent them to Poetics a while ago. They're from The Complete Tribune Primer, Boston, 1901 - the work is gathered from columns for the Denver Tribune around 1881. He wrote Winkyn, Blinkyn, and Nod. This work deserves a much wider audience.” Sondheim’s appraisal too with relation to the better known non/sense writings of Edward Lear: “Lear is everywhere - Field isn't and has much more of an edge.” (J.R.)

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Dear Jerry,

I've been reading w/ great continued & expanded interest your blog postings, practically on a daily basis-- & as significant as I've found them in the past, some of the recent additions have seemed even more resonant, provocative, & inspirational to me. I was particularly impressed, specifically, by the amazing & marvelous design recordings of the Shaker Poems or "vision gifts" as they are referred to, but also more generally by the powerfully insightful connections you make between & amongst such a wide range of visionary, politico-discursive, & innovative practices of poetics & performance. & it has seemed to me that your blog is a sort of Anthology of Anthologies, taking that term in its very best sense, a gathering of flowers, & the languages of flowers. Or perhaps, corroborating with the etymology in a different direction, an Anthrology of Anthrologies-- a human, meaning universal, poetics that is at once a rigorous logos & an enthralling mythos expounding upon what it is to seek, construct, & constitute meaning.

Although in large part I’m responding here to the “Outsider Anthrology,” I am also referring to the way that you’ve situated it among so many other sorts of gatherings, & to how these multiple gathering create a music of harmony & dissonance as they are sounded together.

One of the things that I've been thinking about as I read these pieces & your framing of them here is this sense I have of a movement from ideas of form & structure & other sorts of "object-metaphors" toward & into a discourse of practices & processes, of borrowings & exchanges, participations, movements, becomings, & passages where the dialectics of form-dissipation, structure-randomness, pattern-improvisation, & order-chaos constitute no more or less than energies which compel trajectories of venture, opening, & toward... &...

I find this movement particularly engaging for a number of reasons-- reasons that converge at those intersections of art & life, thought & action, memory & making.

Between 1999 & 2005, while I was "performing my madness" on the streets of New York & beyond, I generally had a preconceived sense of form, theme, & question--a potential discovery-- as I began a piece; yet the actions & work that resulted from these sets of inquiry, both the successes & failures of realized & unanticipated "happenings," were almost entirely the result of improvisation-- w/ other individuals, w/ social institutions, w/ manmade & natural environments-- always also working w/in & at (perhaps sometimes slightly beyond) the edge of laws & codes of social engagement, at the limit of my own fears, doubts, insecurities, inhibitions, anxieties, impulses. So profoundly, w/in this particular period of discovery, my focus was on process & engagement & communication (touching its resonance w/ community & communion) rather than aesthetics or craft.

& I think it has remained so-- though perhaps in curious ways-- as I've attempted to return to that period-- to become its witness & recorder.

I've just begun rereading Roger Caillois's The Necessity of Mind-- & I've found myself focusing on his formulation of the ideogram as common denominator, one could say structuring & organizing theme w/in automatic or lyrical thinking-- the idea that an overdetermined syntax of symbolic connections binds together even the most apparently disparate & arbitrary free association of ideas. In Caillois's description, as I read it, this theme-structure, this organizing order, the ideogram, however unconscious or opaque it may seem, acts as a sort of energy source-- gravity, propeller, vortex, furnace, or whatnot-- for the constellation of memories, disparate images, twists & turns, & apparent non sequiturs which congeal purposefully in the flow & movement of thought. Caillois's point is to demonstrate the mechanism of overdetermination w/in this apparently random flux, but I've been considering his thesis in reverse, so to speak. How in beginning w/ these common denominators of form, order, theme, & structure, one is lead into the play of indeterminacy, chance, randomness, happenstance, unpredictability, abandonment to the unknown, the unfinished, the delicate mystery that both holds the organization of thought together & scatters its pieces to the wind.

& so I've been turning this over, considering how it relates to my own praxis of re-membering, restoring what has been lost, reconstituting what can't be said, known, or comprehended. It seems to me that as I set up a constraint or method for a piece, or impose yet another organizing structure upon those already set into motion, that my intention is to scatter thought rather than hold, shape, or form it-- more like bits of bread for the clever ravens than as a trail leading out of the dark & mysterious forest. So that in enlisting many of the methods I'm using in this impossible work-- impossible methods-- or at least barely possible to me to realize completely-- plans, patterns of organization, forms, structures, & themes revolving around this or that content-- the only purpose that really matters to me, I am beginning to understand, is to elude, through exhaustion & exasperation, what I seem to already grasp & comprehend. Or perhaps not quite this-- perhaps rather to pass through that state of exhaustion into that which hasn't yet presented itself-- whatever is left in the still too difficult to say & think-- as one might pass through inferno or psychosis into second, more essential self.

& so from the material of that "impossible experience"-- those hundreds & hundreds of acts, performances, thoughts, & perceptions-- which I still can't even begin to approach rationally, analytically, objectively-- which at one time I took extraordinary effort to expel, excoriate, eviscerate, & erase-- I relive & reassemble them toward... & toward... again & again... from unexpected angles... always unsatisfied w/ the result.

The need to bear witness to even that experience is less a grasping & holding onto, a safeguarding of order, than it is a pushing forward into the still unknown, undiscovered, unnamable. Hence always this sense of pushing toward & into w/in the returning. In that way my continued dissatisfaction w/ my inability to capture & record experience is the necessary complement of that sense that something happened-- something that must & cannot be spoken. Dissatisfaction compels me to continue toward it, however further the experience itself recedes in doing so.

& I get a sense that your orchestration of the blog is somewhat similar, configuring these particular ways of working into unexpected clusters which produce new relations, new questions, new directions, new uncertainties, & new unknowns rather than than working from more familiar patterns of the catalogue-- the static & barren citation of the "new discovery."

In both cases we touch upon the need to bare witness to the lost, forgotten, excluded-- either to that which is most unique & personal w/in us, or that which belongs to all of us-- as companions & strangers, xenoi & barbaroi, to ourselves & the world-- to language itself.

I wanted to remark on that... that beyond my interest in the pieces you've been putting up, I've been even more engaged w/ the way that this Anthrology moves forward... ever into & toward the still unknown... ever transformative in its returns, rememberings, recollections... re-newing & re-membering what has already become the Book... what still may become of the mystery of the unfolding of the BOOK of BOOKS, the book of the memory of the book, the book of the not yet, the book of the distilled & thwarted return, the book of residuum & et cetera.

[An online version of Bruce Stater’s book-length poem Labyrinth of Vision was published by Ahadada Books at http://www.ahadadabooks.com/content/view/119/41/. Excerpts appeared in Poems and Poetics on February 15, 2009 & an earlier letter in response to that posting on February 17.]

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Jerome Rothenberg: Victor Hugo - A Portrait

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 12:43 AM 0 comments

making art out of his morning coffee grounds, ashes and matchsticks



1

A black & white world, more beautiful than any scorched by color. But the beauty here is finite – immediately an act of the imagination, not as we see (in color) but transformed, by subtraction, into a foreign world.

2
I am aware of it -- & you – but you, I dare to think, are far from it – out of the picture, cut from sight. This is another subtraction – the person who should be there but who is missing – truly. For this I bite my hand & I return to sleep.

3
Scarce & so received
as to be harmless,
languishing,
his hands held open,
gilded, like a saint.
Who is this cavalier?
I hesitate
to name him – one
without a name.

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Pierre Joris: Notes Towards a Nomadics Manifesto (Part Two)

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 12:15 AM 0 comments
04/05/96 a nomadic poetics' method will be rhyzomatic: which is different from that core 20C technique, collage, i.e. a rhyzomatics is not an aesthetics of the fragment, which aesthetic has dominated poetics since the Jena romantics even as transmogrified by modernism, high & low, & more recently retooled in the neo- classical form of the citation -- ironic &/or decorative -- throughout what is called "post-modernism."

& remember that the romantic is the anti-nomadic par excellence, i.e. Wordsworth's "emotion recollected in tranquility."

A nomadic poetics will cross languages, not just translate, but write in all or any of them. If Pound, Joyce & others have shown the way, it is essential now to push this matter further, again, not as "collage" but as a material flux of language matter, moving in & out of semantic & non-semantic spaces, moving around & through the features accreting as poem, a lingo-cubism that is no longer an "explosante fixe" as Breton defined the poem, but an "explosante mouvante."

Useful in this context too is Charles Bernstein thinking about idiolects: "English languages, set adrift from the sight/sound sensorium of the concrete experiences of the English people, are at their hearts uprooted and translated: nomadic in origin, absolutely particular in practice. Invention in this context is not a matter of choice: it is as necessary as the ground we walk on." Replace "English" here with "all" or "any" & you have a nomadic idiolectal stance.

Not the end of man, pace the French twisted desire for disappearnce, but, possibly the end of the alphabet needs to be envisaged as a millennial scenario. As Don Byrd speculates:

The great poetry of the 1960's was created in resistance to the alphabet as a medium that had become dangerously fluent. By the 1970's, no one could resist. For the time being poiesis is in abeyance.

Now we gather the resources of modernism for the new medium as the poets of the sixteenth century gathered the resources of the classical tradition. Digital speech, musical sound, and image all merge in one grammar. The alphabet will continue in this mix for some time, but, in popular discourse, this obsolete mnemonic is even now largely decorative. It remains to be found out if IBM, Microsoft, and the Turner Boardcasting Corporation have already coopted the renaissance.

The alphabet thus done & over with. "We'll keep it for the sake of a one-day classicism." It belongs to a brief 2000-year history of parcellisation, hierarchization. It's most useful fringe, its last binge being the Mac Low/ Cage investigatory methods. The suggestion here is that our space rather than being visual is much more profoundly "haptic," sonorous.

The visual thus a special case only & to be revisited as such: The nomad eye of cubism (& dada/surrealism) as against the sedentary perception of perspective. As James J. Gibson (The Ecological approach to Vision Perception) suggests, motion is the natural mode of human and animal vision: "We must perceive in order to move, but we must also move in order to perceive."

Thus the usefulness of writing in painting, Cy Twombly, etc. Or for me right now, the work of Nicole Peyrafitte, her ink drawings, those shapes & figures crossing & recrossing animal & vegetal, human & non-human, combining in a wild metonymic grammar of desire, & through that pictorial space, these thin lines of near-microscopic writing, in red or black ink, traversing, circumventing, circumscribing, separating, piercing, splicing, connecting the figural volumes & the smooth space of the paper. The attraction of language, the desire to read the lines, pushes the onlooker to move in, to close in on the drawing in order to decypher the text. Her haptic performance of the drawings she calls "Riding the Line." The lines move freely & the reader cranes her neck, twist herself around in order to follow the contour of the lines of writing, then steps back to grasp a figure, moves in again to read -- & while reading can no longer "see" the organised, striated space of the figural volumes which themselves now dissolve into lines-of-flight. This constant destabilisation of view-point, this continuous eye-&-body-act of de- & re-territorialising the spaces of the drawing keep the viewer from ever being able to find that fictional single static point, that center outside the painting/drawing that would organize a fixed, rectilinear, thus hierarchical world & gaze, as was the aim of Renaissance perspective.

The nomad poet, the NOET, gives allegiance to INDRA the warrior god as that is the point of entry to break open the unholy trinity that, so Dumezil, has ruled the Indo-European organisations, from Asian days to Xtian America. If Varuna and Mitra, king and priest, constitute the double points of power they need Indra to consolidate the static state (of everything) -- but Indra always escapes, exceeds. Write D/G: "Indra, the warrior god is in opposition to Varuna no less than to Mitra. He can no more be reduced to one or the other than he can constitute a third of their kind. Rather, he is like a pure and immeasurable multiplicity, a pack, and irruption of the ephemeral and the power of metamorphosis. He unites the bond just as he betrays the pact. He brings a furor to bear against sovereignty, a celerity against gravity, secrecy against the public, a power (puissance) against sovereignty, a machine against the apparatus."

One of the new machines of a nomadic poetry -- & we are not afraid of technology, all poetry has been techno-bonded from the beginning -- one of the new machines is the computer. Interestingly enough, one of those investigating cyberpoetics -- one incarnation of nomadic poetics -- is John Cayley whose ongoing work is called INDRA'S NET. Here is what Cayley has to say concerning his project:

"Indra's Net pieces employ generative algorithms and semi-aleatory processes and the composition of the algorithm is seen as an integral if normally invisible part of the composition of the piece. One of the unique facilities offered by the computer in this context is the ability to set up a feed-back loop. 'Experimental' texts can be generated and the results reviewed quickly and painlessly enough to allow the processes to be modified and improved. Once distributed, the pieces 'run' and generate text for a reader. The reader can interact but does not choose pathways between words directly in the way that she might choose a pathway through the spaces of hypertext fiction. However in my most recent distributed piece, readers can alter the work itself (irreversibly), collecting generated lines or phrases for themselves and adding them to the hidden given text so that eventually their selections come to dominate the generative process. The reader's copy may then reach a state of chaotic stability, strangely attracted to one particular modulated reading of its original seed text. [NB] Work in progress is towards a series of '(Plastic) Literary Objects' which will be both generative and responsive, triggered by as many as possible of the program- and user-generated events which are accessible using a standard computer system. This latest object will be a far cry from the average web page."

THE NOET AS INDRA AND INDRA AS PACK, AS MULTITUDE or multiplicty, lays to rest another fundamental misconception recently inherited from France. Barthes' doleful sense that "the author is dead." Were it so, that would only tanscendentalize him or her, for who else is god but the dead author, deus absconditus? The binary on-off logic of Descartian discourse haunts even the most sensible of the French to this day. No, what has happened is that the author has multiplied, has lost its his her identity as singular subject. Rimbaud accurately said, way back towards another fin-de-siecle, "I is another." We now have to say: "I is many others".

A nomadic poetics will thus explore ways in which to make -- & think about -- a poetry that takes into account not only the manifold of languages & locations but also of selves each one of us is constantly becoming. The nomadic poem as ongoing & open-ended chart of the turbulent fluxes the dispersive nature of our realities make inevitable.

This French Trouble, which has colonized English departments in the American University, needs further & ongoing critique from the NPLF, the Nomadic Poetic Liberation Front. Here's how, in a forthcoming book of essays, Don Byrd & Jed Rasula deal with, and "détournent" (to use that tactical situationist word), among many other things, just such a sacred cow -- the Lacanian axiom according to which "the unconscious is structured like a language:" "Lacan's attempt to make the unconscious homologous with language is a bid for escaping the vicious circle of representation by affirming a principle of unconscious as all surface. Where Lacan says, 'the unconscious is like a language' we might well substitute: the unconscious likes language. The libidinal hunger, the drive or Trieb that Freud finds lurking as a primal disposition of the unconscious, thus assumes an amatory/predatory relation to the constitutive grounds of consciousness as such." This opens up the possibility of thinking the unconscious as a nomadic war-machine. Freud's hyper-cathexed erotico- thanatosian one-way "drives" have been refirgured as what D/G call "affects." These represent the ability to affect & be affected rather than a personal feeling. An affect is "a prepersonal intensity corresponding to the passage from one experiential state of the body to another and implying an augmentation or diminution in that body's capacity to act." "It is the active discharge of emotion, whereas feeling is an always displaced, retarded, resisting emotion." Amatory/predatory affects are nomadic lines of intensity having to do with ways of moving between different strata such as consciousness/ unconsciousness, etc.

The NOET learns & then writes in foreign languages (real or made-up ones) in order to come to the realization that all languages are foreign. Do away with the prison-house of the mother-tongue, or, as I have written elsewhere:" … why does one have to write in the papa-maman, the mummy/daddy language, why should that oedipal choice be the only possible or legitimate one, why should it not be my own sexual choice, that moment of one's discovery of the other, that moment when it is our sex that speaks and not that of our progenitors. So now the mother-tongue will have lost the m and have become the other tongue but that other will also now lose it's hairy, impronouncable, "the" & gain a lamda & a little victory- sign and become the lover's-tongue. As if the vowels somehow stood steadfast while the consonants, like my continents, kept on drifting. The lover's tongue then." A nomadic language of affects, of free lines of erotic flight, that break the triangular (the strongest of shapes, as Bucky Fuller has shown us) strictures of the Freudian scène de famille. Which also brings to mind an unfinished project -- I'm offering it here to anyone who wants to pick it up -- I had concocted in the late seventies with my sadly departed old friend, the Swiss-Italian poet Franco Beltrametti (another true noet): an anthology to be called BLOWS AGAINST THE MOTHER-TONGUE & which would gather the work of poets who had written nomadically in a language that was not their mother-tongue: from Ovid, say, to Anselm Hollo.

Jerome Rothenberg & I have over the last six years put together a large work called POEMS FOR THE MILLENNIUM. Talking about it in Chicago some months ago I said: "Sometimes I say I. Sometimes I say we: Jerry may or may not agree. We are two authors but already an anthology in ourselves. To quote Deleuze & Guattari at the opening of A THOUSAND PLATEAUS: 'The two of us wrote Anti-Oedipus together. Since each of us were several, there was already quite a crowd.'" The authors are, pace Blake, both in eternity & in time. And that vast assemblage we called POEMS FOR THE MILLENNIUM, & which on the face of it looks like an anthology edited by two poets, should maybe better be seen as a nomadology in action, an event authored by us, which means the two multitudes that Jerry & I are, plus the multiplicities the poets in the book are.

But if it is all flux, all nomad wandering, when & how to write. How not to stop & yet do the poem? At the beginning of this text I had referred to the poem as a poasis, an poem-oasis, i.e. a stop in the moving along the nomad line-of-flight. Recently the Tunisian poet Abdelwahab Meddeb brought my attention to a term used by the 10C Sufi poet Niffari who introduced the concept of "mawqif" into his poetics in order to define what the poem is: The mawqif is the pause, the stop-over, the rest, the stay of the wanderer between two moments of movement, two runs, two sites, two places, two states. Writes Meddeb: "It enjoys a rest, raises itself upright; between two durations it scrutinizes briefly the instant when from its heighth it confronts the vision or the word exteriorising itself."

Of course this notion of the stop-over, of the resting place or moment of the weary nomadic traveller between two travels or travails gets hypostasized in Christianity as the stations of the Cross and in the medieval imperial church reduced from a nomadic line-of-flight to a circular, domesticated movement -- the procession -- inside or around the church or cathedral. (Just as in official, imperial Islam the nomadic line of flight gets domesticated into the circular movement, the circumambulation of the Ka'aba). Fascinating to note that one of the early text of modern poetry, along the noetic line-of-flight of blasphemy & comedy, of universal convertibility of all principles, goes straight for that corralled hypostasis of the christian stations of the cross, liberating its movement in a belly-laugh of the blasphemous & absurd. I am of course referring to Alfred Jarry's THE PASSION OF JESUS CONSIDERED AS AN UPHILL BYCICLE RACE.

The mawqif has to be conceived as a tension, a movement of a peculiar kind, & not as some static resting point -- not Wordsworth's tranquility-- it is a momentary, moving placement on a smooth space, metonymic in relation to before & after, and not a resting place, metaphor for the final resting place, that transcendental parking lot, above or below. It is a (momentary) stance in relation to & with space, the horizonal, thus active, in motion, even if of a different motion than that before or after. A whirling motion, making for the connection (rhizomatic) between today's & tomorrow's nomadic moves, whirling dervish, or that dance/stance, as Charles Olson once put it: "How to dance / sitting down."

This "mawqif," or station or"poasis," this moment of movement- in-rest, of movement on another plane or plateau, between today's & tomorrow's lines of flight. Niffari, in the 10th century, worked this one out, be it in relation to something called "god."

Just such a nomadic poetics is profoundly at work in the great Beduin poetries -- the pre-islamic mu'allaqat or odes -- that are so often described as stilted, overdetermined, static poems because of their presumedly predetermined closed structures and monorhymes. In fact, these poems can be seen exactly as nomadic dérives, or as rhizomatic structures.

There are 10 -- in some more restricted canons only 7 -- poems, mu'allaqat, or odes that make up the established, examplary corpus of pre-islamic poetry. Of greatly varying length, the odes usually start in the same place (the atla'l, or meditation on the traces of an old camp the poet comes across in his wanderings), then goes on to a hymn of his camel (a moment of stasis & then precipitous movement) after which it will often laud the poet's lady, then his weapons & exploits in the manner of the praise poem, & go on to tell of the tribe's great feats. What is fascinating is the rhizomatic way in which the poem, inside that set structure, proceeds via series of images, moving from realm to realm, human - animal - vegatable - mineral, & back up, away & around & through, horizontal & vertical, taproots, transfers. Writes Jacques Berque: "This process, where one or the other series alternate, does not worry about coherency. Its most moving aspect, I mean its most mobilizing aspect, is the heteroclite richness of its calls [appels], much more so than their respective compatibility or their mutual cohesion. What is important for this process is, literally, to transfer. It takes the trope seriously, or at leats has not yet had the time to reduce it exclusively to a rhetoric. And that rhetoric is also present in some of these poems, permitting the outrageous, the ironic and the precious to come through, as well as the reflexive from the instinctive, the factive from the originary, -- it is that dérive, no, that perpetual hunt from realm to realm, from stadium to stadium, from genre to genre, that could appear as specifically Arabic."

The monorhyme scheme (something obviously impossible to reproduce or use in English -- though some dubb poetry tries something similar but with great constricting, limiting results) is interesting however for nomad thought. It is pure repetition & not pattern. One of these, & maybe my favorite, is Ibn Tarafa's Mu'allaqat, on which I worked with an Iraqi friend in the late seventies, & which has been much on my mind again lately. He is the most modern, rebel of the nomad poets, an early Rimbaud. And an examplary political poet, in Tarafah we witness the clash of the nomadic war-machine, its poetic line of flight & attack in this case, with the hierachical sedentary orders of king & governor, arbitrary law & executioner. Vide his VIDA (to borrow nomadically from the bio-form of later wandering-poets, the troubadours).


[The preceding is part of an earlier version of a manifesto that can be found in extended form in Joris’s groundbreaking collection, A Nomad Poetics: Essays, published by & still readily available from Wesleyan University Press. (The first part was posted October 17, 2009 on Poems & Poetics.) Its relevance to our ongoing project on “outsider poetry” should be apparent.]

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