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Poetry Focus: Jerome Rothenberg

Eyewear is thrilled to feature Jerome Rothenberg (pictured)  at the start of this week, as he is one of the great figures in American poetry.  I've had books of his on my shelves for over thirty years.


He is an internationally known poet with over eighty books of poetry and twelve assemblages of traditional and avant-garde poetry such as Technicians of the Sacred and, with Pierre Joris and Jeffrey Robinson, Poems for the Millennium, volumes 1-3. Recent books of poems include Triptych, Gematria Complete, Concealments & Caprichos, Retrievals: Uncollected & New Poems 1955-2010, and A Cruel Nirvana (just published by SplitLevel Texts). He is now working on a global anthology of “outsider and subterranean poetry” and, with Heriberto Yépez, Eye of Witness: A Jerome Rothenberg Reader for Black Widow Press. He has until recently been a professor of visual arts and literature at the University of California, San Diego.


A CRUEL NIRVANA

Half dead
is still alive
& half alive is too.
So keep it rolling
I declare.
The others mingle in a room
atop the city
where a fire burns.
They sing.
I sing among them.
Then I push my way through
with my thumbs.
I eke a living
from a stone.
Hard knocks are bound to follow.
I can hear
a water song
close by my ear
& track it
where it leads me.
It is summer
but the trees
are dead.
They vanish with
our fallen friends.
The eye in torment
brings them down
each mind a little world
a cruel nirvana.

poem by Jerome Rothenberg; reprinted online with permission of the author.

Comments

Alistair Noon said…
I heard Rothenberg read in Berlin yonks ago. It blew me away. It was a single author reading with a fair bit of chat in between, best part of a couple of hours I think, and it was captivating from start to finish. The "total translations" from the Navajo are like nothing else on the planet.

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JOHN ASHBERY HAS DIED

With the death of the poetic genius John Ashbery, whose poems, translations, and criticism made him, to my mind, the most influential American poet since TS Eliot, 21st century poetry is moving into less certain territory.

Over the past few years, we have lost most of the truly great of our era: Edwin Morgan, Gunn, Hill, Heaney and Walcott, to name just five.  There are many more, of course. This is news too sad and deep to fathom this week.  I will write more perhaps later. 

I had a letter from Ashbery on my wall, and it inspired me daily.  He gave me advice for my PhD. He said kind things about a poetry book of mine.

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