Fiction by Jerome Rothenberg
Jerome Rothenberg holds a premier place in the American avant-garde. The poems in Seedings, his newest collection, leap across history. Past and future become entwined, and the intricate paths reaching from one century and one millennium into another double back into timelessness (“as the twentieth century winds down/the nineteenth century begins/again”). The long title poem that opens this fin-de-siecle gathering is, appropriately, a celebration of poets and friends––such as Robert Duncan, George Oppen, and Paul Blackburn––who have entered what Rothenberg calls “a Paradise of Poets.” “Seedings” is followed by four other sections, “Improvisations” is a series of high-energy poems in a mode of open writing characteristic of much of the poet’s experimental work, while “Twentieth Century Unlimited” is an assemblage of travel poems and personal observations. “An Oracle for Delfi” revisits and sees anew a classical landscape long the inheritance of Western poets. A final sequence, “14 Stations,” joins the concise verbal techniques of gematria (traditional Hebrew numerology) with the stark agonies of the Holocaust last explored by Rothenberg in Khurbn & Other Poems (1989).