Donald Wellman’s A North Atlantic Wall comes to us now as a rare & powerful example of the artist/poet/traveler in motion – a complex & dazzling & always surprising walk around a profoundly observed & imagined Spanish landscape, turned into a space where historic and ethnopoetic images surface & penetrate the presentday realities of both the writer & the reader. He is as good at this as any now among us, behind him & us a storied trail of predecessors – Olson, Pound, Cendrars, Césaire – who made of place a springboard into other times & worlds. The work, for all of that, is as original as it gets, his testimony now revealed (again) for all of us. —Jerome Rothenberg
Donald Wellman notes that his North Atlantic Wall is similar to that of a periplum, a term from Pound’s Cantos meaning a map of the land as a ship approaches it, drawn from a point at sea. The poet, then, is always in the process of mapping his way. Part epic history lesson, part ethnography, part journal, all parts suffused with surprising lyric intensity, this work is indeed in the tradition of the Cantos, of Olson’s Maximus Poems, of the visionary sequences of Nathaniel Tarn. Readers may lose themselves in it, but Wellman will always be there to guide them. —Norman Finkelstein
In A North Atlantic Wall Don Wellman maps a remarkable geography. The deeper interest of this poetry, however, belongs to places that are not on the map. —Don Byrd
Parador de los Reyes Católicos
Never will I speak again, as I have before,
of silver, gold, or fancy jewels, the golden cockerel on the poet’s shelf.
These to other provinces belong than mine.
Mine the pilgrim’s staff, conch shell from Fisterra.
Not mine the cudgels laid upon the immigrants
whose raft capsized off North Atlantic islands
Mine the crusty bread: cheese, onions, wild chanterelles
shared on a homely bench with friends and refugees.
Donald Wellman lives in Weare NH. Other books of poetry include Fields (Light and Dust: Milwaukee, 1995) and Prolog Pages (Ahadada: Tokyo and Toronto, 2009). For may years, he edited O.ARS, a series of annual anthologies exploring concepts bearing on postmodern poetics. Notable numbers of O.ARS include Coherence (1981), Translations: Experiments in Reading (1983, 1984, 1986), and Frames, Forms, and Meaning (1993). He has translated from several languages, most recently Gravestones / Lápidas from the Spanish of Anthony Gamoneda (University of New Orleans Press, 2009). His prose includes essays on American modernist poets (Pound, Williams, Olson). He has also written on the trans-national poetries and the visual arts of the Caribbean and Latin America.