Translations by Pierre Joris / Tristan Tzara
Introduction by Jerome Rothenberg
"When I first entered on the present work, sometime in the middle 1960s, it was my hope to make a fresh start, to begin at the beginning as if, in the words of Descartes once quoted by the Dada fathers, "there were no other men before us." This meant not so much a simple rubbing-out of history as its possible expansion; & it meant, against our inherited notions of the past, a questioning of such notions at their roots. The area I set out to explore was poetry: an idea of poetry of language and reality both that had haunted me since my own first beginnings as a poet. The inherited view no longer bearable was that one such idea of poetry, as developed in the West, was sufficient for the total telling. Against this as the facts, the poems themselves, revealed was the realization that poetry, like language itself, existed everywhere: as powerful, even complex, in its presumed beginnings as in many of its later works. In the light of that approach, poetry appeared not as a luxury but as a true necessity: not a small corner of the world for those who lived it but equal to the world itself. (For this the works presented herein would be a confirmation.)" [JR, from Pre-Face (1984) to revised edition of Technicians of the Sacred]
In this section of Ubuweb Ethnopoetics the attempt will be to show examples of poems largely in translation or transcription apart from those that fit into the more obvious avant-garde categories of "visuals" and "soundings." The range of structures and imageries is immense, sometimes creating as great a sense of "newness" as the most experimental among us. While we can regret the absence in some of these of the total ritual and performative context in situ, the resultant texts in isolation have their own revelatory power.