Jerome Rothenberg on Writing Through:

Translation & Othering as Forms of Composition

Abstract: Along with anything inherently personal and experiential in my writing I have turned to a range of processes deliberately linking my work to that of others – both predecessors and contemporaries. This has involved the exploration of translation as a form of composition, but also related procedures like collage, appropriation, and the making of large anthology-like works such as Technicians of the Sacred and Barbaric Vast & Wild, the totality of which I speak of as “othering”. My presentation here will offer a chronology of such works of mine and others, with an emphasis on “total translation” in the 1980s and “variations” and “autovariations” in the present.

Professor Jerome Rothenberg (UCSD) is an internationally celebrated poet, translator, anthologist and performer who is renowned as an instigator of the 20th century critical movement known as ethnopoetics. His publishing career includes over ninety books of poetry and twelve assemblages of traditional and avant-garde poetry including Technicians of the Sacred: A Range of Poems from Africa, America, Asia & Oceania (1968), which celebrates its fiftieth year with a revised and expanded edition, to be launched while Rothenberg is in Australia. Additional anthologies include Shaking the Pumpkin (traditional American Indian poetry), Exiled in the Word (a.k.a. A Big Jewish Book), and, with Pierre Joris and Jeffrey Robinson, Poems for the Millennium, Volumes 1-3. He has been a longtime practitioner and theorist of poetry performance. His most recent long collections are Eye of Witness: A Jerome Rothenberg Reader (2013) and Barbaric Vast & Wild: Outside & Subterranean Poetry from Origins to Present (Volume 5 of Poems for the Millennium, 2015). A new book of poems, A Field on Mars: Poems 2000-2015, has just appeared in separate English and French editions.

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