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Companion Spider


Clayton Eshleman

Publication Year: 2010

Companion Spider is the accumulated work of a poet and translator who goes more deeply into the art and its process and demands than anyone since Robert Duncan. Clayton Eshleman is one of our most admired and controversial poets, the translator of such great international poets as Cesar Vallejo, Aime Cesaire and Antonin Artaud, and founder and editor of two important literary magazines, Sulfur and Caterpillar. As such, Eshleman writes about the vocation of poet and of the poet as translator as no one else in America today; he believes adamantly that art must concern itself with vision, and that poets learn best by an apprenticeship that is a kind of immersion in the work of other poets.

Companion Spider opens with a unique eighty page essay called "Novices: A Study of Poetic Apprenticeship" addressed to the poet who is just starting out. Subsequent sections take up the art of translation, poets and their work, and literary magazine editing. The title is drawn from an extraordinary visionary experience which the author had, which becomes a potent metaphor for the creative process. Through the variety of poets and artists to whom he pays homage, Eshleman suggests a community which is not of a single place or time; rather, there is mutual recognition and responsiveness, so that the reader becomes aware of a range of artistic practices s/he might explore

Ebook Edition Note: The essay, "Gull Wall," has been redacted.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press


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pp. ix-x

There is very little around today, certainly in the literary essay genre, that possesses the depth and substance of this book.
This is the accumulated prose-work of a poet and translator who has gone more deeply into his art, its process and demands, than any . . .


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Novices: A Study of Poetic Apprenticeship

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pp. 3-76

These two "statements" drove lightning and rain through me as an apprentice to poetry, in Kyoto, in the early 19603. It was as if I worked daily under the spell of personal potency and transpersonal impotency. Today . . .


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The Gull Wall

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pp. 79-92

In the autumn of 1960, after I had spent a summer in Mexico writing what I felt were my first real poems, Paul Blackburn and I had lunch at a place in New York City he refers to in his own poetry as "the bakery." . . .

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Remarks to a Poetry Workshop

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pp. 93-96

Many creative writing students put too much of their energy into defending what they write, forming a resistance to change which occurs while attempting to write in a way that depends on change as its . . .

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The Lorca Working

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pp. 97-116

After Lorca is a puzzling mixture of Spicer's translations of Federico Garcia Lorca's poems and original poems by Spicer himself. Thirtyfour poems, all in all, which are interspersed with six "letters" which . . .

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Companion Spider

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pp. 117-128

In Kyoto, October 1962, I had become aware that I needed some sign—like Rilke's touching the crotch of a seaside tree and passing through to what he called "the other side of nature," or Ginsberg, after . . .


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At the Locks of the Void: Cotranslating Aimé Césaire

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pp. 131-146

I first discovered Aime Cesaire in the second issue of Jack Hirshman's tiny Hip Pocket Poems, 1960. Cesaire's prose poem, "Lynch I," since edited out of the 1948 Soleil cou coupe (Solar Throat Slashed), was translated . . .

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A Tribute to Américo Ferrari

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pp. 147-152

It is a pleasure to offer an homage to the scholar, translator, and professor Americo Ferrari, on the occasion of his retirement from the University of Geneva. Those of you involved in the School of Translation . . .

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A Translational Understanding of Trilce #I

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pp. 153-160

Over the years, I have come to believe that while it is possible to do a fine translation of a single poem, or a group of poems, translation that establishes an accurate and compelling image of a foreign poet can only . . .

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Introduction to Watchfiends & Rack Screams

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pp. 161-194

Antonin Artaud is one of the greatest examples in art of imaginative retrieval of a life that was beyond repair. What he ultimately accomplished should bear a torch through the dark nights of all of our souls. . . .

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Artaud’s True Family, Glimpsed at Pompidou

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pp. 195-200

I walked into the Artaud drawings exhibition, September 1994. Facing me, taking up all of one wall, was a stenciled . . .


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A Note on the Death of Paul Celan

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pp. 203-206

While living in Sherman Oaks, California, in the spring of 1970,1 had the following dream: a man that I recognized as Paul Celan walked to the bank of the Seine in Paris and stepped up onto a stone which I also . . .

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Two Introductions: Gary Snyder and Michael Palmer

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pp. 207-210

Since 1956, when he read his poems about the Native American trickster Coyote at a reading in San Francisco during which Allen Ginsberg read Part One of Howl, Gary Snyder has been developing a selfless, . . .

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Padgett the Collaborator

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pp. 211-221

Over the past thirty years, Ron Padgett has created a unique body of poetry, prose poems, translations, and essays. By the late 19605, Padgett had begun to assimilate strategies from a combination of earlier . . .

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Spider Sibyls

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pp. 222-227

From the late ipyos through the early 19805, Michel Nedjar created some of the most unique and unforgettable "things" of the latter half of this century. These "things" are referred to as dolls, but since they are . . .


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The Gospel According to Norton

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pp. 231-246

Once upon a time, there was a great, great poet named Yeats [55].'
Yeats was so great, in fact, that he "dominates this century's verse as Wordsworth dominated that of the last." Indeed, a year before this

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Complexities of Witness

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pp. 247-261

In his review of my book Under World Arrest (Small Press, summer 1995), Michael Duff contests the effectiveness of a poem on the beating of Rodney King (a video that was replayed for weeks, King beaten again . . .

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“What Is American About American Poetry?”

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pp. 262-265

It is surely possible that our massive American vocabulary contains in its magma and compost a loan-word-pidgin-slang libido that accounts for a crucial part of the American energy that, in the twentieth century, . . .

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The Lawless Germinal Element

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pp. 266-269

I had been talking with Jerome Rothenberg and Robert Kelly, among others, about the need for another Caterpillar-like magazine that would engage multiple aspects of innovative contemporary poetry in the . . .

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Introduction to the Final Issue of Sulfur Magazine

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pp. 270-277

I had been talking with Jerome Rothenberg and Robert Kelly, among others, about the need for another Caterpillar-like magazine that would engage multiple aspects of innovative contemporary poetry in the . . .


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From an Interview with Duane Davis for Waste Paper (1993)

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pp. 281-291

WP: Your use of language clearly violates many of the rules and restrictions imposed on poetic diction as taught in the academic setting or as accepted by the established poetry magazines and college journals. In . . .

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From an Interview with William Harmer for Agenda (1994)

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pp. 292-294

Agenda: Your poetry seems to deal with animal nature on one hand and the human capacity for reason on the other. Can you comment . . .

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From an Interview with Keith Tuma for Contemporary Literature (1996)

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pp. 295-316

What to say to introduce Clayton Eshleman? First of all, perhaps, this: in my experience I have found few poets whose work generates—for other poets, for readers coming to it for the first time—such animated . . .

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Medusa Dossier: Clayton Eshleman (1999)

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pp. 317-333

MEDUSA: Could you talk about your writing habits? What is your writing process and what stimulates you to write a poem? Do you use pencil, pen, typewriter, computer? Do you keep notebooks? . . .

About the author

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p. 335-335

E-ISBN-13: 9780819570581
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819564825

Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Translating and interpreting.
  • Eshleman, Clayton -- Aesthetics.
  • Poetry -- Translating.
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