To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dieter Rot: Two Poems Newly Translated

Translation from German by Jerome Rothenberg


she was greening
she was greening
she was greening so green
& bluing
& bluing
& bluing so blue
& she came
& she came
& she came so far off
& she went
& she went
& she went so far out


my eye is a mouth
my eyelids are the mouth’s lips
my lashes are the mouth’s teeth
my eyeball is the mouth’s tongue
my cornea is the mouth’s tongue’s tip
my pupil is the mouth’s kiss
my socket is the mouth’s gums
my iris is the mouth’s maw
my brain is the mouth’s gut
my vision is the mouth’s digestion
my life is the mouth’s shit

my shit is the eye’s life
my digestion is the eye’s vision
my gut is the eye’s brain
my maw is the eye’s iris
my gums are the eye’s socket
my kiss is the eye’s pupil
my tongue’s tip is the eye’s cornea
my tongue is the eye’s ball
my teeth are the eye’s lashes
my lips are the eye’s lids
my mouth is an eye

[NOTE. Dieter Rot (1930-1998) – written sometimes as “Diter” & sometimes as “Roth” – was one of the poets & artists – the terms were often interchangeable – who emerged alongside the Fluxus movement of the 1960s.  A relentless experimenter, he worked through an astonishing, sometimes outrageous & combative range of materials & processes, producing books, graphics, drawings, paintings, sculptures, assemblages, & installation works involving sound recordings & video.  He was also a composer, musician, poet, & writer, working both alone & in collaboration with artists & poets such as Emmett Williams, Daniel Spoerri, Eugen Gomringer, Arnulf Rainer, & Richard Hamilton.  The translations posted here were commissioned for a reading, along with Johanna Drucker, Kenneth Goldsmith, & Kristin Prevallet, to accompany the exhibition “Roth Time (2004): A Dieter Roth Retrospective” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Wrote another Diderot two centuries before: “Poetry must have something in it that is barbaric, vast & wild.” [J.R.])

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