Tag Archives: Robin Myers

“Lyric Poetry Is Dead”: The Flourishing Obituary of Ezequiel Zaidenwerg

Friday, March 22, 2019

LA LIRICA ESTA MUERTE/”LYRIC POETRY IS DEAD” by Ezequiel Zaidenwerg
(translated by Robin Myers; drawing by Carmen Amengual)
Cardboard House Press / www.cardboardhousepress.org

THERE ARE GODS HERE TOO: Readings of Heraclitus — Michael Kincaid
The Buffalo Commons Press, 2008
(P.O. Box 525, Dickinson, North Dakota 58602-0525

Kenneth Rexroth’s “Thou Salt Not Kill: A Memorial to Dylan Thomas” is not cited as often as it should be. It certainly does not appear in many anthologies, despite its precedence to Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” as a major, mid-century jeremiad. I have no idea of whether the Argentinian poet Ezequiel Zaidenwerg is familiar with Rexroth’s scathing indictment of American culture, but those who find themselves entranced with Zaidenwerg’s book-length poem should dig up Rexroth’s rant and note the insidious violence attributed to Thomas’s death. If lyric poetry is dead, it is a corpse with the aura of the continuous present tense, at least in the palimpsestual shroud in which Zaidenwerg has wrapped it; its death still seems painfully recent. If such were not the case, the appropriation and adaptation of twentieth century texts (Eva Peron’s autopsy; Che Guevera’s corpse) would not shimmer in these poems as if propelled by some inward, still palpitating vision. Zaidenwerg has descried a dystopia epic, and the bruises, amputations, beheadings, assassinations, and massacres of civilized history are all too visible, however. “Live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse” is not the advice to be found on lyric poetry’s tomb.

On the whole, the “death” of lyric poetry, in this fourteen part, book-length poem, reminds of Abel Gance’s cinematic call-to-arms, “Now is the time for the resurrection of all myths in light.” Orpheus, Odysseus, and the Sybil at Cumae, as well as Lot in the Book of Genesis, all contribute to an extended eulogy of narratives, each meant to remind us — the few who find ourselves willing to show up for a public memorial — of how resilient these archetypes remain, even if the form of imaginative conveyance has become a negligible art.

Zaidenwerg’s title, which gets repeated as the opening gambit of many sections, is most certainly not meant to stir up any lingering traces of nostalgia. The irony, of course, is primarily operating in the translator’s domain, for it is translation that operates with a Janus mask. Zaidenwerg’s book, and Myers’s translation deserve to be the focus of the following question: Is a translator a writer inherently committed to a conservative avant-garde?

Given the absence of any significant presence of avant-garde writers at the upcoming AWP convention, I don’t expect to have many conversations in Portland that take on this question by first quoting from Michael Kincaid’s THERE ARE GODS HERE TOO: Readings of Heraclitus (Buffalo Commons Press, 2008). This book should be on the shelf of every poet who wants to produce a body of work worthy someday of being translated. Kincaid, who is a very fine poet himself — perhaps the best “unknown” poet in the United States, exemplifies the positive response to my question in taking on this pre-Socratic poet as an avant-garde visionary of paradoxes’ mutability:

“What is cold warms, warmth cools, moisture dries, the parched moistens.

“Fire lives the death of air; air lives the death of fire. Water lives the death of earth, earth that of water.

“But it is death for spirits to become water, and death for water to become earth. But water is born of earth, and spirit of water.”

(page 37)

Footnote: As is the case all too often with something first read 50 years ago, Gance’s proclamation turned out to be a lengthier statement. It can be found at the start of an essay by Martin M. Winkler: https://books.google.com/books?id=WgpMAQAAQBAJ&pg=PA133&lpg=PA133&dq=Now+is+the+time+for+the+resurrection+of+all+mythis+in+light.+Abel+Gance&source=bl&ots=mZWStcXfdx&sig=ACfU3U1dhhOcVv025z7BTxUp8NxwunrJMA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjyp6H_lI7gAhWW14MKHe0iADwQ6AEwBnoECAMQAQ#v=onepage&q=Now%20is%20the%20time%20for%20the%20resurrection%20of%20all%20mythis%20in%20light.%20Abel%20Gance&f=false

Robin Myers, Poet-Translator: CONFLATIONS/Almagama

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Robin Myers, Poet-Translator: CONFLATIONS/Almagam

“Si tengo con qué escribir, sé que voy a detenerme a poner atención, a buscar entender cómo las cosas que me rodean se hablan entre sí.” — Robin Myers

Undergraduate students in creative writing often ask me about attending a MFA program. Since I myself do not have a MFA and often find myself in opposition to the constricted poetics that has dominated the Association of Writing Programs the past half-century, I am hardly the best person to go to for advice. I certainly encourage students to get the training that they feel is most appropriate for their talents and career goals. It’s important, for instance, for students to realize that the MFA is essentially a union card. It entitles one to apprenticeship status in the “brain factory,” which is to say that a person with a MFA can get teaching work at a college. Many MFA students who have attended CSULB have gone on to teach in the region’s community colleges, and a few have even taught at the four-year schools. Not only do they teach, but they continue writing, and several have gone on to publish novels and a fair amount of poetry. The success of the students is not surprising, given the quality of the MFA faculty. The other three poets who teach in the MFA program at CSULB (in seniority order, Charles Harper Webb, Patty Seyburn, and David Hernandez) all have national reputations; the fiction faculty includes two writers who have won N.E.A. creative writing fellowships. A student would be very hard pressed to find a better creative writing faculty at a public college, or many private colleges for that matter.

Any there other options, though? While it does require both aptitude and courage, one option is to empower oneself with thorough knowledge of a second language and to work as a translator. One young American poet who has done that is Robin Myers, who lives and works in Mexico City. She does not have a M.F.A., but she has developed something far more beneficial in the past several years; she has found a community of poets in Mexico whose commitment and knowledge of the art of poetry have enabled her to grow as a poet. Ultimately, one of the weaknesses of MFA programs in general is that they create networks and not communities. In undertaking this alternative course of maturing as a writer, Robin Myers has made herself part of a community which her affirmation of, in turn, has embraced her creative work.

Myers has just had her first book of poems, CONFLATIONS/Almagam, published in a bilingual edition in Mexico. I had the privilege of reading many of the poems in this book two years ago when the manuscript was still being finalized, and this collection deserves to be recognized as a superb debut by a poet who has just turned 30 years old. While this book might be difficult to obtain in the United States, you can find an interview with her that was published yesterday in the Los Angeles Review of Books:
https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/a-sudden-taking-in-of-air-an-interview-with-poet-and-translator-robin-myers/

Her interviewer, Daniel Saldaña París, is an essayist, poet and novelist. Among Strange Victims was just published this month by Coffee House Press; it is his first novel to appear in the United States.

Here is the catalogue copy for Robin Myers’s book:

http://www.edicionesantilope.com
Amalgama / Conflations
Robin Myers
Amalgama, la palabra, está definida en el diccionario como la unión o mezcla de cosas de naturaleza contraria o distinta. Y eso es justamente Amalgama, el libro: un inventario que Robin Myers levanta para luego recordar no sólo las cosas en sí, sino la sensación de asombro al encontrarlas todas juntas. Con una sensibilidad poco común, la poeta observa el mundo y va recogiendo lo que encuentra para darle después un lugar a través del lenguaje. “Si tengo con qué escribir”, dice Myers, “sé que voy a detenerme a poner atención, a buscar entender cómo las cosas que me rodean se hablan entre sí”.

Three Poems by Bill Mohr in Spanish

The original cluster of poems that Jose Rico and Robin Myers translated in 2014 for the book project that eventually became Pruebas Ocultas contained a fair number of recent poems, none of which ended up being included in the book. However, a magazine that operates as a blog-in-progress called Transtierros has published three of the “deleted” poems. My thanks to the editor, Luis Eduardo Garcia. These poems were originally published in English in the following magazines: CarnivalPoolOR. My thanks to the editors of those magazines, too.

Here is the link to my three poems:

http://transtierros.blogspot.mx/2015/09/tres-poemas-de-bill-mohr.html

Here are some links to the poems of the editor, Luis Eduardo Garcia, as well as interview with him.

POEMS BY LUIS EDUARDO GARCIA

http://www.entermagazine.net/#!ENTER-POES%C3%8DA-Luis-Eduardo-Garc%C3%ADa/cmbz/55a5db9d0cf286eab0233ab6

http://latribudefrida.com/poesia/2014914poemas-de-luis-eduardo-garca/

lNTERVIEW:

http://transtierros.blogspot.com/2015/05/test-nicotra-luis-eduardo-garcia.html

 

 

Translations of my poetry

THURSDAY, August 15, 2013

This past Sunday I received a list of three dozen poems that Jose Rico and Robin Myers have proposed as the core of a book of poems to be translated into Spanish and published in Mexico. I first heard about the possibility of this project a couple months ago through Jose Rico, who has already translated some of my poems for a magazine called Circulo de Poesia. I have had other translators work on my writing over the years, but this is the largest scale on which this kind of work has ever occurred.

I have to confess that it feels a bit odd having a collection of my poems being translated into another language. It’s not that I haven’t written during the past 45 years with the hope of such a book appearing in my lifetime. I have found too much encouragement during my life from poets in other languages not to hope that my own writing might be able to do the same for a poet in another country. When I consider how many other poets are deserving of this honor, I’m somewhat surprised that my poems have managed to become the focus of a translator’s imagination. The list of poets with whom I have read at the Idyllwild Poetry Festival would certainly provide any aspiring translator with a score of equally worthy candidates:

Chris Abani

Ellen Bass

Christopher Buckley

Lucille Clifton

Wanda Coleman

Brendan Constantine

Richard Garcia

Eloise Klein Healy

Yusef Komunyakaa

Suzanne Lummis

Tom Lux

Harryette Mullen

Marilyn Nelson

Naomi Shihab Nye

Holly Prado

Doren Robbins

Aleida Rodriguez

Natasha Tretheway

Cecilia Woloch

Robert Wrigley

 

I hope all of my comrades can someday experience my excitement at the onset of this translation of my poems. Something must be astir in regards to my writing because I also recently received an e-mail from Zachary Payne in Spain, who spontaneously decided to translate some of my poems into Spanish. With his permission I am posting them on today’s entry. His translations are followed by the list that Jose and Robin sent me of their first pick of my work.

(translations by Zachary Payne)

three poems from Bittersweet Kaleidoscope

            tres poemas del Bittersweet Kaleidoscope

 

THE ORIGINS THAT MEMORY CONSIDERS

 

Objects linger when they move,

unaware of the day´s alignment

between your death and mine.

 

LOS ORIGENES QUE LA MEMORIA CONSIDERA

 

Objetos persisten cuando se mueven,

ignorantes del alineamiento del día

entre tu muerte y la mía.

 

WEIGHT

 

My brain weighs the world and the world weighs stones

and rocks and trees. I know the world weighs more,

 

but my legs and back and neck insist raindrops

hanging from the needletips of a pine tree-

 

one I stood beside twenty years ago-are heavier

than thought, which adds no more weight to its origin

 

than a flower to a bee passing over damp petals.

Mysticism exaggerates, but so does the literal.

 

And to think the truth is in between

ignores the abyss that holds them apart.

 

PESO

 

Mi cerebro pesa el mundo y el mundo pesa piedras

y rocas y árboles.  Sé que el mundo pesa más,

 

pero mis piernas y espalda y cuello insisten gotas de lluvia

colgando desde las agujas verdes de un pino-

 

uno que paré al lado hace veinte años-son más pesados

que pensamientos, que no incrementan el peso de su origen

 

que una flor a la avispa volando sobre pétalos húmedos.

El misticismo exagera, pero también lo hace lo literal.

 

Y pensar que la verdad está entre medio

e ignora el abismo que los mantiene separados.

 


 

ONE MIRACLE

            For Bob Flanagan

 

Stunned by tequila from the night before,

I remember poking at embers as dawn

puffed its mist into a clearing. Bob sang

and coughed, sang and coughed. Even then,

I wondered how much longer he had.

Every time his body jerked, I winced.

I loved his improvised, contaminated genius.

Tonight he´s in the hospital again, alone,

and this poem is like a waitress who deserves

a big tip-half the bill-for telling me

it´s time to stop drinking coffee and drive over

and rescue him, perform the one miracle

I´m allowed in this life, but I´m not,

because Bob´s not the one I´m supposed to save.

 

 

EL MILAGRO

Para Bob Flanagan

 

Atontado por el tequila de anoche,

recuerdo atizando las cenizas mientras el amanecer

sopló su vaho en un claro. Bob cantó

y tosió, cantó y tosió. Aún entonces,

me preguntaba cuánto tiempo más tenía.

Cada vez que su cuerpo sacudió, me agonizaba.

Me encantaba su improvisado, contaminado genio.

Esta noche está en el hospital de nuevo, solo,

y este poema es como una camarera que merece

una propina grande-la mitad del cuento-por decirme

es hora de dejar de tomar café e ir

y salvarle, hacer el único milagro

que me es permitido en esta vida, pero no,

porque Bob no es él quien yo debería salvar.

 

 

 

 

POEMS CHOSEN BY JOSE RICO AND ROBIN MYERS

BILL MOHR – New & Selected Poems (1978-2012)

 

From The Headwaters of Nirvana

Why the Heart Never Develops Cancer

Cro-Magnon

Dream Drain

The Bump

Wrinkles

Ars poetica

The curiosity of Marlene K. Section 7

Compared to what

The restoration

The trolley problem

The foot bridges

Death’s real job

One miracle

Complexities

Real days off

The ghoul convention

Reincarnation slaughterhouse

In the ocean of nothingness

The headwaters of Nirvana

 

From Poems from the 1980s

The Ambiguity of Motion

Naked chef

 

From Hidden Proofs

Vallejo

What allowed me to live to see this cat?

Scorpio in the summer

After rain

 

From Bitersweet Kaleidoscope

Milk

Weight

After many years of love

Bittersweet Kaleidoscope

The origins that memory considers

An answer

The offering

Elegy for Roy Orbinson

Eye chart for an orbiting space station

On the poetry of barbarians

How to quit writing poetry