Donald Wellman

poet, editor, translator

The Virgin Mountain

The Virgin Mountain, Roberto Echavarren, trans. Don Wellman and Roberto Echavarren. Diálogos 2017.

In The Virgin Mountain, the great Uruguayan poet, novelist and essayist, Roberto Echavarren, continues his investigation of twenty-first century modernity, this time in the context of desire and the natural world. Drawing from theorists and philosophers like Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze, as well as from his Latin American poetic forebears like Vallejo and Neruda, in this long poem Echavarren mines the depths of a mountain both natural and symbolic, following veins of desire which reside in basic human (and animal) impulses, sex and waste material fused into an erotic materiality from which the language arises. The Virgin Mountain represents the highest level of Echavarren’s accomplishment, as he continues the explorations of his art and its limits, always subject to violation and experiment. Echavarren, for many years Professor of Comparative Literature at New York University, is the author of more than twenty books of poetry and literary criticism on subjects including Latin American Literature, Surrealism, Neo-Baroque poetry, Russian and other European literatures, poetic and gender theory. He is a co-editor of Medusario: Muestra de Poesía Latinoamericana.

Recent news and publications

Albiach / Celan / Reading Across Languages (Annex 2017). Available from Small Press Distribution.

Echavarren’s The Espresso Between Sleep and .Waking, translated by the author and myself has been released by Card Board House 2016.

Neila, Evening Song: Last Poems of Yvan Goll has been released by Spuyten Duyvil  2016.

Roman Exercises is also a new release (Talisman House Publications, 2015).

Albiach / Celan: Reading Across Languages Released

Albiach / Celan : Reading Across Languages

 

Annex Press 2016, Donald Wellman’s new book of prose travels far : Antonio Gamoneda’s poetry, ‘Earth Ergon’ on the work of Derrida, his thoughts on translating Paul Celan, his musings on the art of translation, the work of French Poet Anne-Marie Albiach. This volume includes a new version of her poem : après cela, moi j’ai regardé’ translated by Wellman and Julian Kabza. Also included, a new work by Jean Daive, the author of ‘Under the Dome’ (Burning Deck Press). Daive’s reminiscence titled -‘Urgence et négation en réponse Anne-Marie Albiach et PaulCelan’ is, in part, an extension of his earlier work on Celan. “My desire is to erase boundaries,” says Wellman, and in many ways, this book is an exploration of how language can aid that project. Based in consideration of translation, Wellman’s musings pass through the lens of critical theory and continental philosophy, a lens that gathers diverse approaches and focuses them into a single, illuminating beam. At once erudite and intimate, autobiographical and analytical, Wellman effectively erases the distinction between text and translation, between writer and translator-and with a particularly graceful momentum that comes through in both his prose and his poetry.” – Cole Swenson. from Jean Daive : ” The life of Paul Celan is a perpetual struggle against death, against time, against language. The language too is directed, aimed, magnetized. It traces out a trajectory. The language stops at its limit: the Rilkean language of the first two books, the Mallarmean language of the third, then the language of research into Low German (Plattdeutsch), Dutch or Flemish the source of Yiddish. There are two clocks: the life clock, thus one of urgency, and that of the language, which travels from the northeast toward the north. The real watch: one worn on his wrist, he would later place on the night table

Statement on practice

My poetics stem from early studies of the works of Ezra Pound and Charles Olson. Before that I had concentrated on Anglo-Saxon and other archaic texts. I was spellbound by lyric poetry, especially in German, sometimes in French, as well as in English. I have taught “modernism” in the arts as well as in literature. I have been identified as a modernist in my own style. That style is imbued by pre-conscious emotions that surface during the act of composition. My grasp of imagery, as is the case with some painters, is haptic and even eidetic. Highly expressivist figures from Ernst Ludwig Kirchner to Francis Bacon lurk there. Textures awaken deep sensibilities. The visual grasp is seemingly complete and sure in an instant, as opposed to studied. This mode of engagement with the strange and the beautiful is processural and indeed rhizomatic. I place desires that originate with perception ahead of verbalized conceptions. The philosophy of Giles Deleuze and Félix Guattari corresponds in multiple ways with what I intimate here. Earlier I had sought an American pragmatism, Ralph Waldo Emerson and William James were my guides. Inevitably Thoreau kindled my sense of soul and nature and its beauty. I sought withdrawn and liminal spaces where my thinking and feeling were open to transformation. The primary refuge was an island off the coast of Maine. The effects of that love of nature remain visible on my pages. I think of my long poems as histories of such liminality and the transformations that have shaped my life. Much of my poetry employs narrative series, characterized by disjunctive gaps and overlays where the weaving of dissimilar strands is evident. Interleaved and episodic with emblematic lyrical clusters might be attributes of this method. It is a highly allusive method rich in its array of citations to works that have engaged me in the several languages that I read. Reading across languages and writing across languages catch me in preverbal webs that engage a mind seeking words for percepts and feelings. A proclivity for the careful and difficult work of translation follows and supports my poetics of translation. Poetry is a matter of verbalization where words or phrasings are entirely inadequate to the felt purpose, but yet the text bears traces of a pulse that ears and tongues and even fingers potentially share.

Derek Walcott

At my blog, Derek Walcott on Immanent Occasions.

 

 

Mental Excursions

Donald Wellman is a poet and translator. As editor of O.ARS, he produced a series of annual anthologies including Coherence (1981) and Translations: Experiments in Reading (1984). He has translated books of poetry by Antonio Gamoneda, Emilio Prados, Yvan Goll, and Roberto Echavarren. Albiach / Celan: Reading Across Languages is forthcoming (Spring 2017) from Annex Press. His Expressivity in Modern Poetry is forthcoming from Fairleigh Dickinson. His poetry, most often highly allusive serial compositions, has been described as trans-cultural and baroque. His collections include Roman Exercises (Talisman House, 2015), The Cranberry Island Series (Dos Madres, 2013), A North Atlantic Wall (Dos Madres, 2010), Prolog Pages (Ahadada, 2009), and Fields (Light and Dust, 1995). Here are some of my publiations. https://sites.google.com/site/oarsconnection/.