Monday, July 6, 2009

Incantations & Jerome Rothenberg, with photos of el Taller Leñateros

Poet, essayist and anthologist Jerome Rothenberg has included a portion of Ambar Past's essay She of Great Writing, She of the Glyphs on his influential blog Poems and Poetics. For those of you who already don't know, Jerry--besides being one of the most influential of American poets over the last 50 years--is a pioneer in the study of ethnopoetics, a term he himself coined in 1968. These definitions of "ethnopoetics" are from wikipedia:
On one hand, it refers to non-Western poetry, often that of indigenous people (although it could apply to the study of all-kind/source folk poetry), and on the other hand, it is poetry showing such influence and written in manner to manifest the qualities of indigeneousity; ethnopoetics also refers to the study within the field of linguistics of poetic structures particular to specific culture. Dennis Tedlock, who collaborated with Rothenberg back in the day, defined ethnopoetics as "a decentered poetics, an attempt to hear and read the poetries of distant others, outside the Western tradition as we know it now."
Rothenberg has been kind enough to say this about Incantations: “There has to my mind never been a project quite like this: a collective body of poetry--and women’s poetry at that--coming directly out of an indigenous culture and gathered as a deliberate work of poetry and art by the women themselves. The poems, created and spoken in Mayan Tzotzil by individual poets, then translated by Ambar Past into faithful and readable Spanish and English versions, show how deeply rooted language traditions can transform into vehicles of personal as well as collective expression. Incantations represents a major contribution to poetry in general and to ethnopoetics in particular.”

Below are some photographs of the Taller Leñateros--the artisans and their workshop. The Taller is paper-making collective who joined together with Ambar to create the conditions to earn their livelihood while at the same time celebrating their language and culture. Together they conceived of, and created, the hand-crafted edition of INCANTATIONS. It is from their work of art that Cinco Puntos was able to create a trade edition so that readers here would have access to their important work.

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