The Original 1939 Notebook of a Return to the Native Land
Aimé Césaire’s masterpiece, Notebook of a
Return to the Native Land, is a work of immense cultural significance and beauty. This long poem was the beginning of Césaire’s quest for négritude, and
it became an anthem for blacks around the world. Commentary on Césaire’s work has often focused on its Cold War and anticolonialist rhetoric—material that Césaire only added in 1956. The original 1939 version of the poem, here in French and in its first English translation, reveals a work that is both spiritual and cultural in structure, tone, and thrust. This Wesleyan edition includes the original illustrations by Wifredo Lam, and an introduction, notes, and chronology by A. James Arnold. More…
…is a literary anatomy, including two long poems (“The Moistinsplendor” and “An Anatomy of the Night”); three New York City stories; a journal kept during a 1985 trip to Brittany; essays on Paul Blackburn, César Vallejo, Pierre Joris and Aimé Césaire; reviews of works by Lee Hickman, Charles Olson, Chaim Soutine, and Leon Golub; eleven lectures on the Upper Paleolithic painted caves of southwestern France; notes on Carolee Schneemann, aprenticehood, the Medusa, and Rodin; four interviews and a conversation with Robert Kelly; prose poems inspired by the work of Daumier and Laura Solorzano; and “Erratics,” a collection of sightings, aphorisms, tiny poems, quotations, gists and piths. More…
“Coming through a projection pole into the full tribal assembly of self-savagery, Clayton Eshleman activates in The Jointure a brilliant ‘I-beam’ that illuminates the stack of androcentric figures through which his opus is staked to man’s collective psychic force. Eshleman’s primordial intention in The Jointure is contact with the ancestral realm. Among totems honored are Yorunomado, the daemon of Eshleman’s first breakthrough poem written in Kyoto, and Xochipilli, the Aztec prince of hallucinogenic plants. Painstakingly refined in The Jointure are the precise pivot points through which these perpetrators of soul must come and go in order to realize the fate, form, and integrity of a lifetime given to the imagination. With each refinement, Eshleman’s status as the quintessential poet of visionary germination becomes more and more certain. Marking the clearest distillation of this poetic fact to date, The Jointure reveals Eshleman at the peak of his generative powers.”
An Anatomy of the Night
… is a magnificent new work by one of America’s foremost poets. In thirty-one parts written between December 2010 and February 2011, Eshleman’s long poem creates a choral effect that masterfully evokes fragments of candid observation shimmering in rhythmic intensity. In bold simplicities, illustrative sensibilities and lyrical integrity this work is imaginative, intimate and beautifully controlled. Hauntingly, these poems rip open the space of the long form poem and create something new and brilliant.
1948 Edition. Aimé Césaire
(Translated and Edited by A. James Arnold and Claytron Eshleman, Wesleyan UP, 2011)
Soleil cou coupé (Solar Throat Slashed) is Aimé Césaire’s most explosive collection of poetry Animistically dense, charged with eroticism and blasphemy, and imbued with an African and Vodun spirituality, this book takes the French surrealist adventure to new heights and depths. A Césaire poem is an intersection at which metpahoric traceries create historically aware nexuses of thought and epxerience, jagged solidarity, apocalyptic surgery, and solar dynamite.