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Writing Through
Translations and Variations
Jerome Rothenberg

Wesleyan Poetry Series

2004 • 240 pp. 15 illus. 5 1/2 x 8 1/2"
Poetry / Poetry Criticism

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“A fascinating book for anyone interested in the art of translation."—Cold Mountain Review

Wide-ranging poetry anthology by one of America’s most distinguished literary translators.

Jerome Rothenberg is one of the major poets of his generation. His work in ethnopoetics, Native American and tribal poetics, Jewish identities, avant-garde poetry, and experimental translation is vital to contemporary poetry and literary studies. Writing Through couples Rothenberg's translations from a variety of non-English sources with his thought-provoking commentary. It also includes a selection of his poetry ("Otherings & Variations") in which the language of significant others forms the basis of original compositions. The result is a lively and unique anthology which illustrates how poetry, like translation, can be viewed as an act of "writing through" the words of others.

Translated poets in Writing Through include Celan, Lorca, Nezval, Schwitters, Picasso and Gomringer. The book also includes Rothenberg's radical translations from oral poetries, "variations" derived from the vocabularies of translated poems, and a series of "gematria poems" employing a traditional form of Jewish numerology. In addition to Rothenberg's groundbreaking essay on "total translation," the book is interspersed with his helpful commentaries and notes, which illuminate a major aspect of his total poetics.

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Reviews / Endorsements:

“Any book from a poet as eminent as Jerome Rothenberg is significant and welcome. This is particularly valuable in bringing together in a convenient single volume Rothenberg’s scattered translations and related variations. In a broader cultural context the book will be of great significance to students and readers of ethnopoetics, 20th century avant-garde and modernist texts in translation.” —Steve McCaffery, Director, North American Centre for Interdisciplinary Poetics

“This is translation taken as a poet's act of opening—of oneself to others—Indian songmen, Hebrew mystics, Dada clowns, Spanish lyricists, Altaic shamans, German concretists—an act of welcoming—these others and the rest us into a newly shared and luminous, open world of contemporary poetry.”—David Antin, Professor Emeritus, School of Visual Arts, University of California, San Diego


Winner of the Alfonso X el Sabio Award for excellence in contributions to the field of translation/interpreting studies (2004)

JEROME ROTHENBERG is the award-winning author of over 70 books of poetry and poetry translation and editor of six major assemblages of traditional and contemporary poetry. CHARLES BERNSTEIN is an internationally known poet and theorist and Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania.