Ron Padgett’s Translations of Yu Jian

Ron Padgett, like so many great NY School poets, is also a fantastic translator. I love his translations of French poetry. They are so fluid and contemporary. I especially love his translations of Apollinaire and Blaise Cendrars. Blaise Cendrars’ Complete Poems is one of my favourite collections of poetry ever. He is also a nomadic poet par excellence. A great inspiration for my own nomadic surrealist project.
Ron Padgett’s translations of Yu Jian is part of that expansive poetic tradition. And, like Ron Padgett, there is a childlike quality of wonder and curiosity. I naturally gravitate to this kind of playful poetry.
I wonder how much of Ron Padgett is in Yu Jian’s translations. I would imagine they naturally gravitated towards each other with similar aesthetic concerns and so on.
Anyway, these translations of Yu Jian by Ron Padgett are terrific. After reading a selection of them at Jacket 2, I am even more curious. I am definitely ordering the whole book of translated poetry. It is called Flash Cards, from Zephyr Press, 2010.
flash cards.jpg

Reading a lot of Philip Whalen and Kenneth Koch

Friday night. A week drawing to a close. Indian stomach rumbles again from the buffet. Settling in with some ginger tea and reading some plays of Kenneth Koch collected in The Gold Standard. Leaning over bed in this small North London room to type on laptop which rests on a foldable chair.

Will return to Koch’s play George Washington Crossing the Delaware very soon. NY School Poetry is taking my writing in new directions.

As we all know it is information overload. So much on the internet. Jacket 2. MFA programme grads. it is nice to hunker down with something like Kenneth Koch’s collected and his plays. Focus attention.

Just ordered Philip Whalen’s collected with parent’s gift certificate for 37th birthday. Be here in a month or less. Whalen’s and Koch and Padgett and Mayer are opening me up.

I am weighed by memories. So many lifetimes, identities, experiences, countries. I am finding writing as a way to let them go. See them as me and not me. That flickering between existing and not existing. In short, I am finding my way back to writing as life and life as a practice and that practice ultimately as spiritually but not spiritual in the sense of separate from the body. An expansive spirituality. All encompassing. More a perspective. A mindfulness.

And so it goes . . .

back to George Washington.

He just chopped down the cherry tree . . .

some interesting essays over at Big Bridge (perhaps actually much more enjoyable than Jacket in many ways):

Philip Whalen essays at Big Bridge


It is the 28th March. The weather, of course, is mostly overcast. But I am mostly inside so that’s OK. I spend over two hours everyday on trains, commuting to work. Sometimes teaching at two different campuses at different parts of London. So reading, well, it is a form of sanity. I can do a lot of reading on the tube/subway. This week I am going to continue for education in NY School Poetry (or poetry at least inspired by what NY School poetry opened up in terms of possibilities for poetry). I have read many. There is never enough. Eventually I will read something else but it always feels good to get sucked into something and disappear. OK. Maybe not always. But often. Can anything be qualified with the word always. I am not sure.

Here are the four NY School Poetry books for this week’s tube commuting. I managed to check them out from The British Poetry Library at the Southbank. A treasure house of all treasure houses.

Memorial Day (Ted Berrigan and Anne Waldman)


The Joe 82 Creation Poems (Rochelle Owens)

New and Selected Padgett (Ron Padgett)

The Collected Kenneth Koch (Kenneth Koch)


What’s in your bag?

copulating and happy with NY School Poetry

I just received Joe Brainard’s I Remember in the post today. I am sure many folks have read it. I am late to the game. It is a classic of conceptualism and NY School Poetry. I am sure the French writers have already been influenced by it. It seems NY School Poetry has much more in common with French poetry than anything at all British. British poetry is very isolated. It is stuck in the 19th century with a few early modernists. Agh. Too bad for British poetry.

I just finished the following NY School Poetry books while commuting on the tube/subway. I highly recommend all of them.

Great Ball of Fire (Ron Padgett)

Poetry State Forest (Bernadette Mayer)

How To Be Perfect ( Ron Padgett)

My plans for next week’s tube reading:

Tulsa Kid (Ron Padgett)

I Remember (Joe Brainard)

NY School Poetry is of course a united singular aesthetic. But is seems, without getting into scholarly nit-picky mode, the poets do have some things in common. I especially like how so many of them, Ron Padgett and Joe Brainard especially, use their everyday lives. An attempt to bring art and life closer together. The original avant garde art project.

So here is my everyday life today.

There was a Polish birthday party in Leicester Square, followed by crowd immersion at British museum. Currently, I am experiencing acid reflux.

My friend Joe, just back from living and teaching English in Portugal, brought his own blow up mattress to stay with us in London. Our place is very small. Maybe it can fit a blow up mattress.

I thought about fish and chips tonight but there is no fish and chips tonight. We are trying to eat more healthy.

I also looked at LOOT for place to live with Ewa. If I can keep a job for decent amount of time, it would be nice to have a place, even a small one, but a bit bigger than this small bedroom we share in North London (Wood Green).

And so we tread forward. Nomadic travels await. Ewa has made some green tea.

Tea helps to centre me.

The Poetry Project and Openned

A very interesting interview with Anne Waldman and Stacy Szymaszek about the Poetry Project at St. Marks church in the Bowery. The history. The community building. The future. NY School poetry, of course, and also much more.

One of my favourite places in the universe. The Openned reading series in London has the potential to build along these lines.

Openned: East London

The Poetry Project: Lower East side