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Now available in print and exclusively from Longhouse ~
Red Pine. Dancing with the Dead. Longhouse, 2006. First edition. Fold-out accordion booklet. Three colors. New. Limited edition. $7.95 postpaid
Excerpted FROM PAGE ONE ~
Every time I translate a book of poems, I learn a new way of dancing. The people with whom I dance, though, are the dead, not the recently departed, but people who have been dead a long time. A thousand years or so seems about right. And the music has to be Chinese. It's the only music I've learned to dance to.
I'm not sure what led me to this conclusion, that translation is like dancing. Buddhist meditation. Language theory. Cognitive psychology. Drugs. Sex. Rock and Roll. My ruminations on the subject go back more than twenty-five years to when I was first living in Taiwan. One day I was browsing through the pirated editions at Caves Bookstore in Taipei, and I picked up a copy of Allen Ginsberg's Howl. It was like trying to make sense of hieroglyphics. I put it back down and looked for something else. Then a friend loaned me a video of Ginsberg reading Howl. What a difference. In Ginsberg's voice, I heard the energy and rhythm, the sound and the silence, the vision, the poetry. The same thing happened when I read some of Gary Snyder's poems then heard him read. The words on a page, I concluded, are not the poem. They are the recipe, not the meal, steps drawn on a dance floor, not the dance.
For the past hundred thousand years or so, we human beings have developed language as our primary means of communication first spoken language and more recently written language. We have used language to convey information to each other, to communicate. But there are a set of questions just below the surface that we prefer not to address. How well does language do what we think it does? And what does it do? The reason we prefer not to address such questions is because language is so mercurial. We can never quite pin it down. It is forever in flux. And it is forever in flux, because we, its speakers and writers and translators, are forever in flux. We can't step into the same thought twice. We might use or read or hear the same word twice, but how can it mean the same thing if the person who uses or reads or hears that word is not the same person? We speak of language, as if it was a fixed phenomenon, and we teach it and learn it, as if it was carved in stone. But it is more like water, because we are more like water. Language is at the surface of the much deeper flux that is our riverine minds. Thus, if we approach translation by focusing on language alone, we mistake the waves for the river, the tracks for the journey.
To purchase the full booklet, this is available exclusively from our Bookshop:
As an act of goodwill and for poetry - Longhouse is sending out each month complete publications - online - of one poet (or more) we have published in booklet, broadside or postcard form for everyone to share. It's a way of giving back to many of you who have sent to us poems, letters, purchases and the same goodwill over the years. The series will fly in under the banner of our Woodburners We Recommend. It should also be felt as a certain warmth in memory to all our close and dear poetry comrades passed along - each one becoming more of a loss. Each monthly booklet will also be available for purchase from Longhouse. Issued in a very limited keepsake edition of 50 copies. Starting in 2006 we will begin to reissue and present past issues from Longhouse of select poets. For those readers that travel back as far as 1972 when Longhouse began, you know poetry was released like bandits by the day, by the week, by the month, and always free. We have never taken on grants and meant poetry to be seen & heard & on poetry terms. From 2006, into the Infinite, and within the universal cyber cosmos, we would like to share multiple poets with you....and only ask that you share them further.
© 2006 Red Pine
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