Monday, November 25, 2013

Rothenberg Reads

David Antin introducing Jerome Rothenberg: DG Wills, La Jolla California
My goodness.  Such history and sustained, vigorous artistic output in the main space at DG Wills on Saturday night (Rothenberg has four just-published books out this year).  David Antin introduced his old friend, Jerome Rothenberg, while the amazing and tough Diane Rothenberg and Eleanor Antin sat in the front row.  It was nice to hear stories about the two couples long history together as told by Rothenberg and Antin, sixty years, if me remembers correctly.

The reading was in support of Rothenberg's giant collection Eye of Witness: A Jerome Rothenberg Reader, Edited with Heriberto Yépez.  The reader was published by Black Widow Press, and it features a portion of Goya's Asmodea as the cover art.  It really is a beautiful book.  Selections from Rothenberg's years of producing amazing poetry, translations, and anthologizing world literature is presented in this volume.  If not for Rothenberg's anthologies and translations, who knows if I would have ever had an entry point into the work and/or chants of figures like María Sabina, Léon Damas, among many, many more.  

María Sabina--Mazatec curandera
Léon Damas--One of the founders of the Négritude Movement, poet and politician

Inclusivity is a word that I often hear or read regarding Rothenberg's work.  The idea of enthopoetics, and the act of forging into the luster of deep culture, as he calls it, I can dig it.  

J. Rothenberg--BTW: the bag of chips didn't belong to him.

Following the reading, I began fingering through Eye of Witness at home, as well as pulling up old footage of Rothenberg readings and interviews on my laptop.  A piece that struck me can be found on the LINEbreak program.  It's from "The Horse Songs of Frank Mitchell."  In it, Rothenberg performs a 'total translation' of a Navaho horse blessing.  In the same episode, Rothenberg answers Charles Bernstein's questions about those who might criticize 'the outsider' who is perceived as infiltrating cultural artifact.


In closing, I wish there were more younger people in the audience that night.  An oral history was on display that evening that could have been tapped with deep and hungry questions.

Upon having my copy of Eye of Witness signed:

Me: muchísimas gracias, Mr. Rothenberg.
Rothenberg: de nada.

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