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Charles Reznikoff

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Sunday, July 31st, 2011


The hiss of the cicadas in the trees behind our house is at its peak this evening -- really reverberating through our entire second floor. (It's a sound I love, for which small mercy I give thanks.) As I was listening to the buzzing just now a new approach hit me to a problem of tense that I'd been batting around a few weeks ago:


by Pablo Antonio Cuadra
Thus spoke el maestro
de Tarca:

Catch the cicada
by its wing
At least
you're holding in your hand
its song.

I believe this is both truer to the source and better sounding, more poetic, than what I had previously.

posted evening of July 31st, 2011: 1 response
➳ More posts about Poets of Nicaragua

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

Birthday Greetings, Bottle of Wine

When my parents were dating, back these 40-some years ago, back at Berkeley, their song was "When I'm Sixty-Four." Well this week, my dad is 26 -- likely the last sixth power he will see, and the last power of two -- and mom is still needing him, still feeding him. Happy birthday, Dad!

The party is today in Modesto and I'm sorry I'm not there. Hope to see you guys soon!

posted afternoon of July 30th, 2011: 1 response
➳ More posts about Birthdays

Friday, July 29th, 2011

holy, unspeakable, mysterious Night.

In case you have not been following comments on my years-old threads (and really -- who could blame you?): Ben has convinced me to re-open the Novalis translation project that I started back in 2007 but never really got anywhere with. He has contributed some excellent suggestions regarding nearly all of the sentences in the poem's second stanza. Perhaps you started reading this blog sometime since 2007 and you would be interested in helping out with this project, if only you knew about it! -- Well, here is your chance. We're trying to improve on the various English translations of Novalis' poem Hymns to the Night, and we're trying to do it by committee. Take a look and see what you think.

Ben's working translation of the second hymn is below the fold.

posted evening of July 29th, 2011: Respond
➳ More posts about Hymns to the Night


One of my very favorite qualities of the Nielsen Hayden blog Making Light, is the way commenters there freely rewrite classic poetry in new voices and on new subjects. It is a highly literate crowd over there -- today they have been (spinning off of an exchange between Chris Clarke and Abi Sutherland at Google+) rewriting the greats to have reference to the world of blogging and newsgroups and social networks. Thomas speaks through Henry Reed:

Today we have naming of trolls. Yesterday
we had spam deletion. And tomorrow morning
We shall have what to do after banning. But today
Today we have naming of trolls. Economies
Totter world-wide toward bankruptcy
But today we have naming of trolls.
(And on the subject of Making Light: at the bottom of a week-old thread, a troll has inspired commenters to translate old favorites into Chinese via Google, with some fun results.)

posted evening of July 29th, 2011: Respond
➳ More posts about Readings

Concert Calendar: Brooklyn

Here are two concerts Ellen and I are planning to go to:

  • The Shirts will be playing at Cha Chas on the Coney Island boardwalk on Saturday the 13th. There will be three bands, The Shirts are leading off at 8pm. Should be a great show.
  • Robyn Hitchcock is playing Eye at The Bell House on November 19th. Also on the bill are John Wesley Harding and the Minus Five.
Meet up with us! It will be fun.

posted evening of July 29th, 2011: Respond
➳ More posts about Music

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Easily Distracted

Timothy Burke's blog dropped off my radar a couple of years ago... Today I happened back onto it by way of Russell Arben Fox -- I'm making it a regular stop on my politics reading list from now on, based just on the two topmost posts at the moment -- one of the most scathing bits of criticism of President Obama I've read yet, one that really articulates the disappointment I feel at his term in office; and a bedtime story for the Republicans in congress who are hell-bent on destroying our nation in service of an incomplete, ill-considered analogy of the national economy to a family's budget.

posted evening of July 26th, 2011: Respond
➳ More posts about Politics


Last week, Sylvia finished up a bicycle repair class she's been taking at summer camp. Today, Tom Reingold, who taught the class, invited her over for a lesson in wheel-truing -- the last step to getting her new bike ridable. It is a blue Jamis Ranger of recent vintage which Tom found in his ramblings in need of lubrication and tuning-up, and a new seat. And it's all done! Sylvia took her first ride on it this evening.

I'm impressed -- I must have been 14 or 15 before I did a full tune-up on a bike. Click through for more pictures of the bike repair.

posted evening of July 26th, 2011: 3 responses
➳ More posts about Sylvia

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

I, drowsing in summer's sleepiest horn

At The Hooded Utilitarian, the first posts have gone up in the new Illustrated Wallace Stevens roundtable, which will be ongoing over the next few weeks. Up first is Mahendra Singh's take on the totally seasonally appropriate Cuban Doctor. (Singh styles himself "An illustrator busily fitting Lewis Carroll into a protosurrealist straitjacket with matching dada cufflinks.")

posted morning of July 24th, 2011: Respond
➳ More posts about Comix

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011


Franklin Einspruch of The Hooded Utilitarian brings to our attention the abstract expressionist work of Walter Darby Bannard and in particular, his riffs on George Herriman's comix.

posted evening of July 19th, 2011: Respond
➳ More posts about Pretty Pictures

Two Lines

So I am reading some of the pieces in this edition of Two Lines (the one I mentioned yesterday) and it is making me feel very good to be included in this crowd. The quality of selections and of translation is just off the charts. And rereading my piece in this context, I honestly think it holds up, that it is of a like quality to the rest of the anthology. (Although almost the first thing I noticed was a problem of tense, a sentence that would have sounded much better with the addition of the word "had". Oh well, too late for revisions.)

  • Chris Andrews' translation of the opening of Varamo, by César Aira, had me laughing out loud on the train this morning, underlining passages ("the sequence was dense with meaning, but threatened from within by the infinite"! "the innocent look of an incoherent letter"! "Light dissolved the worries created by its dark twin, thought"!) and longing to read the whole thing.
  • Joanne Turnbull's translation of The Letter Killers, by Sigizmund Krzhinzhanovsky, again makes me want to read the whole book. The inklings of asemia contained in Krzhinzhanovsky's protagonist's method of composition have me dying to know where he goes from here.
  • Andrew Oakland translates Martin Reiner's meditation on "The Angel of Destruction" -- the Warsaw Pact troops entering Brno when Reiner was 4 years old, in kindergarten. Extremely powerful and, as Oakland asserts in his translator's note, it does not require much familiarity with Czech history to get the point.
  • Harry Thomas and Marco Sonzogni translate two poems by Primo Levi which have me wondering how come I have not read any Levi yet.

posted evening of July 19th, 2011: Respond
➳ More posts about Translation

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