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Rothenberg at SPLAB

Rothenberg at SPLAB

In the first part of a November 2001 interview, Jerome Rothenberg discussed his early introduction to the poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca, Lorca’s use of the word duende, a kind of Spanish troll or fairy which Lorca used as a kind of force in which the performance artist or poet would struggle to create the poem. This, Rothenberg points out, is not an invocation to a beloved muse, as in the case of Romantic English language poetry, but a power battle with a force of nature. He also discussed how poetry continues to be a kind of language people turn to in times of death in our culture. Part 1 (6:59)

In part two of the interview, Rothenberg discussed his project Lorca Variations, a book of 34 poems based on words Rothenberg translated and selected from Lorca’s poetry. He discussed the concept of “othering” that “the poet can be a spokesman for others and bear witness in the name of others.” He used Walt Whitman’s ironically titled “Song of Myself” as an example of this approach. Not just to establish identity, but to “put identity into question.” Part 2 (7:31)

In part three the second New York Poem from Lorca Variations was read by Jerome, the prophetic nature of the poem, his experience of being in New York on September 11, 2001 and how a lot of the poetry took on a sense of the prophetic for him. He also discussed the world situation that Lorca encountered when he wrote the poems that informed Rothenberg’s piece, including living at a time between two world wars, the second of which would claim Lorca as a victim. Part 3 (7:19)

In Part four, Jerome discussed and read Lorca Variation IXX In A Time Of War. He also discussed his anthology Poems for the Millennium, how the project was initiated, how he sees the anthology as an epic work that he could create from many different resources as an instrument for presenting work that had been ignored or despised by literary communities. He felt the assessment of the 2oth Century had slighted some of the most important products of the period, feeling the books had it wrong, in a sense and also discussed why he included his own work in the book. Part 4 (10:12)

In the final segment, Jerome discussed the Dada movement, one of the movements covered in the Poems for the Millennium anthology, the Robert Motherwell anthology of the 50s and its influence on him and how it led him further into that work with a sense of kinship as a younger poet in 1960, seeing it as a response to the 20th Century’s violence and an effort “to cleanse language of the corruption it has undergone in the name of nation-state.” He read the poem That Dada Strain as well as a poem addressed to Hugo Ball and expressed his desire that his work open a door for others.  Part 5 (12:08)

Promo (:30)

Rothenberg Thank You promo (2:22)