Starting to prepare for Anny Ballardini visit & readings. (We'll also be reading at Brown, in the John Hay Library, on April 23rd, 3-5 pm).

Looking over In RI, which lengthy chronicle she translated, the whole thing. This visit has a lot of work & history behind it.

In RI is sort of an anomaly among my other poems. A prose-poetry amalgam. Something like WC Williams's Paterson (or the Bible). (A piece of it appeared in Apex of the M #4, way back when.)

The last epic poem which fulfilled the ancient generic expectations was Milton's Paradise Lost. Since then, prose fiction happened. Epics became "personal" (Wordsworth's Prelude). Pound set the template for the modernist experimental epic (The Cantos).

In RI is modelled on Pound, Williams, Olson, for the most part. However, in some ways it's more like a straightforward "epic chronicle". The state of Rhode Island is, curiously, a kind of city-state - founded by a bona fide "epic hero". Roger Williams was a city-founder in the Virgilian mode - courageous, magnanimous, visionary. His story of exile, struggle with authorities, relations with the Narragansetts & other tribes, travels, war, and state-founding radiates ancient epic values. In RI sort of balances aspects of epic, chronicle, and personal reminiscence & anecdote (the poet "sinking" or dissolving into local history & personal history together).

It's a palimpsest, a mish-mash. The story of Anny's translation of In RI into Italian (a language Milton introduced to his friend Williams, while RW was in London - in exchange for Williams teaching Milton a little Narragansett) combines the pre- and post-Gutenberg situation; that is, on the one hand, In RI reminds me of those old texts & compilations - rag-bags, incunabula - you find in early printed books; while on the other hand, this translation-collaboration was made possible by the internet.

1 comment:

Henry Gould said...