A Paradise of Poets: New Poems & Translations
Author: Jerome Rothenberg
Publisher: New Directions (1999)
A Paradise of Poets is Jerome Rothenberg's tenth book of poetry to be published by New Directions, beginning with his Poland/1931 (1974). In considering the title of his newest collection, he says: "Writing poetry for me has always included an involvement with the life of poetry–– [and] through that life an intensification, when it happened, of my involvement with the other life around me. In an earlier poem I spoke of this creating a paradise of poets.... I do not of course believe that such a paradise exists in any supernatural or mystical sense, but I have sometimes felt it come to life among my fellow poets and, even more, in writing—in the body of the poem".
In Rothenberg's hands, the body of the poem is an extraordinarily malleable object. Collage, translation, even visual improvisation serve to open up his newest book to the presence of poets and artists he has known and to others, past and present, who he feels have somehow touched him, among them Nakahara Chuya, Jackson Mac Low, Pablo Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci, Federico Garcia Lorca, Kurt Schwitters, Vitezslav Nezval. Kenneth Rexroth once commented: "Jerome Rothenberg is one of our truly great American poets who has returned U.S. poetry to the mainstream of international modern literature.... No one has dug deeper into the roots of poetry." With A Paradise of Poets, it is clear that this evaluation is as fresh today as it was twenty-five years ago.