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An Armand Schwerner TABLETS Reading

"Why leave fictive experiments to the prose writers?”

THE TABLETS "translate" preserved Sumero-Akkadian clay tablets that are, we're told, over 4,000 years old. A "scholar-translator" provides conjectural readings, annotations, and commentary, giving the work an archeological-fragmentary structure that allows a complex openness of collage, mixed genres, and polyvocalism. A playful and powerful poetry is the result, at once visual and literary.

Rooted in primordial human experience, THE TABLETS is a work for and of the body. That is, the real world of birth, lust, and decay. THE TABLETS has been described as "a set of cautionary tales about our hunger for chronicle, history and the dangerous precincts of the spiritual, dramas of selfhood/nonselfhood which depict the exacerbated psyche at those precise and telling moments when all its fear and hopes have gone awry." Poems from an imagined world when writing was new, directed at now.

On this night, all twenty-seven Tablets will be read for the first time.


Pierre Joris

Nicole Peyrafitte

Sophie Duvernoy

Katy Bohinc

Matthew Ward


Charles Bernstein

Armand Schwerner was born in Belgium in 1927 and came over with his family to the United States in 1936, settling in New York City. He was educated at Cornell and Columbia, and subsequently taught at Columbia and the College of Staten Island. In addition to THE TABLETS, he published eight other volumes of poetry during his lifetime. A polyglot, Schwerner published translations from Hawaiian, American Indian, and other tribal and archaic sources, along with a well-received translation of Sophocles's Philoctetes. At the time of his death, he was working on a translation of Dante's Inferno, sections of which have appeared in various literary journals. Armand Schwerner died in February 1999.