To a dead fox

dead fox

It was the morning after

the night we were forced to say good-bye

you and your kind, too, are neighbours

often walking the road home

on weekday evenings after work.

Those nights you and yours, unfazed,

silent and determined, blending with brick and park

remind us of the great woods this all once was.

It was the morning after

the clock striking eleven

-for fuck’s sake, not even twelve-

it was that morning after then

we saw you in the distance, still,

golden, up close nearly smiling,

stiff, furry, were you at all alive?

Where were you going, what fence

did you trespass,

were you hunted, did you flee,

were you home or not yet there?

Did you just drop dead,

were you hit, then your body moved,

were you cold, ill and hungry,

or merely tired, not sick but old,

was your time up or were you poisoned,

did you simply fall asleep,

halfway here, halfway there,

pavement and grass, grey and green,

savvy animal, wise and wild,

yet trapped and doomed to hiding,

pretending never to be scared,

instead daring, uncaring and free?

How did you meet this end,

the morning after,

was it quick, painless,

just routine,

or laborious, agonising,

lento,

gasping loudly after air,

(the park runners this a.m.

take reign of what used to be,

my friend, your kingdom)

every noise tremendous,

your suffering unheard?

You lie there, waiting.

Someone will have to find you a place.

What the Grid Reveals: An Introduction to The Strip Hay(na)ku Project

Copies of The Strip Hay(na)ku Project (2019)

Here I share with you the Introduction I wrote for The Strip Hay(na)ku Project. A collaborative experiment in sequential graphic poetics (Meritage Press & L/O/C/P, 2019). It’s been lightly reformatted for this blog.

If you can please buy the book; it’s nice to hold and reads better than on the screen. Each copy will be printed out specially for you. If you are into limited edition comics, mini-comics, fanzines or poetry chapbooks it’s the kind of printed artifact you’d like in your collection methinks.

“Hay naku” is a common Filipino expression covering a variety of contexts—like the word “Oh.” The “hay(na)ku” is a 21st century poetic form invented by Eileen R. Tabios. It is a six-word tercet with the first line being one word, the second line being two words, and the third line being three words. Poets around the world have used the form and have created text and visual variations of the form, including the “chained hay(na)ku” which strings together more than one tercet as well as the reverse hay(na)ku where the word count is reversed. I started co-creating “strip hay(na)ku” poems in 2008, inspired by examples of Slovenian “strip haiku”.

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

“The hay(na)ku’s swift popularity would not have been possible without internet-based communication,” Ivy Alvarez, John Bloomberg-Rissman, Eileen R. Tabios and I wrote in the introduction to The Chained Hay(na)ku Project (Meritage Press and xPress(ed) 2010). We had posted the call for contributions to that book on the project’s blog on June 24 2007[1].

I may be misremembering, as more than a decade has now passed, but if the metadata from the media library of the Strip Hay(na)ku Project blog[2]  is correct, by February 2008 I had already co-created all the comics-poems/poems-comics in this collection. I remember first trying out one by myself, with my own images and words, and then realising the whole experiment could better be extended to become what we called on the project’s blog “a collaborative experiment on sequential graphic poetics”. It was all part of my own attempt to borrow the hay(na)ku experience, make it my own—I mexicanised it calling the form “jainakú”, to refer to the way I’d pronounce it in Spanish, and to reflect the fact that this was a poetic form that had a sense of humour and resisted the rigidity of snobbish seriousness. In fact, the original file names for all the strips contained in this book included the term “jainakú” to identify them.

The Strip Hay(na)ku Project sought to extend the collaborative, sequential/chained nature of the hay(na)ku to the realm of comics, abstract comics if you will, repurposing writing and images created by what then was a creative online community, what was a mutual, reciprocal blogroll of poets and artists who were bloggers and bloggers who were poets and artists (no one remembers what was first—did the order matter?). I have had a long-time interest in the comics grid (the array or layout of graphic panels; the specific distribution of images on a comic book page) as a poetic force, as a space for poetic revelation. It took me years to be able to formulate that the comics grid reveals, and to suggest that what the grid reveals is enabled by the spaces between images, by the quality of the presence and absence of panel borders, of what they contain and what they exclude.

As in poetry, in comics space and silence matter and communicate, express ideas, emotions, stuff. There was such richness in the materials created by the community represented in our blogrolls at the time—an intensity of creative feedback that the rise of social media dissipated and never managed to replicate. “I ask the woman”, “And then”, “The body remembers”, “A white page”, “Last night we”, “A wicked likeness” and “The things words” were indeed collaboratively submitted to The Chained Hay(na)ku Project call, with materials sourced from the contributors’ blogs, and were published in the collection (pages 30; 36; 45; 59; 77; 93; 96). That was the only printed record of this experiment until now: the present edition contains all the strip hay(na)kus we created during January and February 2008, and had never seen the light of the printed page before.

The strip hay(na)ku included here were not merely about exploring what happened when previous content was manipulated and rearranged in a specific panel layout that followed the rules of the hay(na)ku (1, 2 and 3 panels, or the other way around). The collaborative nature of the comic book (editors, writers, pencillers, inkers, colourists, etc) was definitely an inspiration to attempt a similar collective workflow, where there was not a single ‘author’ but a network of authors, each contributing an important element or process.

And indeed in the Strip Hay(na)ku Project an important goal was to focus on process, on the spaces and relationships between people located in specific -distanced- geographical and temporal points, expressing themselves in changing modes, with words or images, and in my case here, with layout design and word and image editing. If I used the term “sampling” at the time, it is because I was inspired by electronic methods of music composition and remixing, thinking of forms of digital collage and curation as poetic practice.

With the hindsight of more than ten years, I think some of these pieces were successful in what I thought they should have achieved, and that was to repurpose messages and to create new ones. I suppose the goal was to propose the hay(na)ku as a poetic theory and practice of space, and more specifically as a grid structure, a network, an infrastructure for poetic revelation.

In this sense I see the hay(na)ku, and the strip hay(na)ku in particular, as poetic expressions deeply rooted in Internet-mediated collaboration, poetry made with computers to be shared via computers (and now mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets). At the same time, and I hope this is materialised in the fact this is meant to be a print publication, my own approach to the hay(na)ku as a collaborative, multimodal poetic form is also embedded in the tradition of DIY fanzine making that, though digitally-mediated, still aims to achieve the feel and should I say “aura” of mechanical reproduction.

In creating the new pieces for the cover (also reproduced twice, in two sizes, inside) and back cover, words are missing on purpose, as an invitation to the reader to try to recreate it or augment it with their own lines. My hope, in rearranging my own work and the work of others in specific forms, was to reveal interconnections, juxtapositions, contradictions and new visions.

I would most surely do things slightly different today, but if I’m honest not drastically different, so I am still proud of what we were doing those ten years ago, at that specific time and place. I am, of course, immensely grateful for the generosity of all those who collaborated in the strips, because the work is ours and yours, because they and I and you gave it away to the page and the future. The work included in these pages still speaks, and perhaps, sometimes, even sings, even in what it does not do or fails to do, in the framed and unframed blank spaces between the ones, the twos and the threes.

November 2018

[1] Available at https://chainedhaynaku.wordpress.com/ [Accessed 18 November 2018].

[2]  Available at  https://thestripjainakuproject.wordpress.com/ [Accessed 18 November 2018].

Reference

Priego, E. (2019). The Strip Hay(na)ku Project. A collaborative experiment in sequential graphic poetics. California, USA: Meritage Press and L/O/C/P. ISBN 9781934299135. http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/21927/

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

A decade later it’s here: The Strip Hay(na)ku Project. A collaborative experiment in sequential graphic poetics (Meritage Press & L/O/C/P, 2019)

The Strip Hay(na)ku Project book cover

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

The Strip Hay(na)ku Project.  A collaborative experiment in sequential graphic poetics

Edited by Ernesto Priego

With contributions by John Bloomberg-Rissman, Sam Bloomberg-Rissman, Amy Bernier, lola bola (Jane Ogilvie), Horacio Castillo, Ira Franco, Ernesto Priego, and Ginger Stickney.

Foreword by Eileen R. Tabios

Introduction by Ernesto Priego

ISBN 978-1-934299-13-5

Release Date: April 2019

Page Count: 48 pages, full colour.

Price: US$14.00 or equivalent

Distributor: Lulu (Laughing/Ouch/Cube/Publications account)

For more information: meritagepress@gmail.com

 

 

Meritage Press and Laughing/Ouch/Cube/Publications are pleased to announce the release of The Strip Hay(na)ku Project, a collection of hay(na)ku poems in comic strip form, edited and co-created by Ernesto Priego with contributors John Bloomberg-Rissman, Sam Bloomberg-Rissman, Amy Bernier, lola bola (Jane Ogilvie), Horacio Castillo, Ira Franco, Ernesto Priego, and Ginger Stickney.

“Hay naku” is a common Filipino expression covering a variety of contexts—like the word “Oh.” The “hay(na)ku” is a 21st century poetic form invented by Eileen R. Tabios. It is a six-word tercet with the first line being one word, the second line being two words, and the third line being three words. Poets around the world have used the form and have created text and visual variations of the form, including the “chained hay(na)ku” which strings together more than one tercet as well as the reverse hay(na)ku where the word count is reversed. Ernesto Priego started co-creating “strip hay(na)ku” poems in 2008, inspired by examples of Slovenian “strip haiku”.

 

About The Strip Hay(na)ku Project:

“Hay(na)ku, a 21st century fixed verse form, has inherited haiku-sensibility (with its caesuras or paradigm shifts) and added to it a new kind of game, with 1, 2, and 3 words, perfect for the special needs of alphabetical writings. The inventive collaborators of this book successfully transplanted hay(na)ku – not only its basic form but its spirit as well – into the field of visual writing, and what we get is new and exciting. The book contains real comic strips but almost as soon as I started reading/watching the panels I had the strong impression that instead of the usual multitude of voices, speakers, actors etc. we have only two “heroes”, so to speak, inside and outside, and even they are not so different, to say the least. There is no comic strip without a story, and this time we are told and shown (but the texts and images don’t explain each other, their connection is inspiringly dissociative), how those heroes or perspectives keep changing places. It happens gently, almost invisibly…”

-Márton Koppány

 

Bios

Ernesto Priego is a lecturer at the Centre for Human-Computer Interaction Design, City, University of London. He is the founder and editor in chief of The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship. He co-curated, with Ivy Alvarez, John Bloomberg-Rissman and Eileen R. Tabios, The Chained Hay(na)ku Project (Meritage Press and xPress(ed) 2010). He is also the author of Not Even Dogs. Hay(na)ku Poems (Meritage Press, 2006); the amazing adventures of Gravity & Grace (Otoliths 2008); The Present Day. The Mañana Poems (Leafe Press 2010); Ahí donde no estás. De nombres propios y otros fantasmas (Instituto Veracruzano de Cultura 2013); and, with Simon Grennan and Peter Wilkins, the non-fiction comic Parables of Care. Creative Responses to Dementia Care (City, University of London, University of Chester and Douglas College, 2017). He posts things online whenever he is able to on his blog, epriego.blog, and on Twitter @ernestopriego.

Eileen R. Tabios has released over 50 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in nine countries and cyberspace. Her books include a form-based “Selected Poems” series: The In(ter)vention of the Hay(na)ku: Selected Tercets 1996-2019; THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL: Selected Visual Poetry (2001-2009); INVENT(ST)ORY: Selected Catalog Poems & new 1996-2015, and THE THORN ROSARY: Selected Prose Poems and New 1998-2010. Recent poetry collections include HIRAETH: Tercets From the Last Archipelago, MURDER DEATH RESURRECTION: A Poetry Generator, TANKA: Vol. 1, and ONE TWO THREE: Selected Hay(na)ku Poems which is a bilingual English-Spanish edition with translator Rebeka Lembo. Forthcoming is WITNESS IN A CONVEX MIRROR which will inaugurate Tinfish Press’s ”Pacific response to John Ashbery.” She also invented the poetry form “hay(na)ku” whose 15-year anniversary in 2018 is celebrated at the San Francisco and Saint Helena Public Libraries. More information about her works is available at http://eileenrtabios.com.

 

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

MakeWrite: Supporting Writing with Constrained Creativity

MakeWrite screenshot

I am pleased to announce that the INCA project has now launched MakeWrite, an iPad app that was co-designed by and for people with aphasia (a language difficulty following brain injury).

The app offers an accessible way for anyone to create and share texts in English. However, you don’t need to live with aphasia to try it out. Users can use existing text to make their own new piece of creative writing in four simple stages: choose, erase, arrange and share.

It was launched yesterday as part of UNESCO’s World Poetry Day.
This is its first release- it is a worldwide release for all iPad models, but if you are not in the UK and you experience difficulties downloading please do let us know- there should be no problems though.

Needless to say I’d personally love to see a multilingual MakeWrite, and of course one with a wider variety of source texts and an Android version too.

Link to the release on iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/makewrite/id1456271313?mt=8 

Find out more about the INCA Project at https://blogs.city.ac.uk/inca/

Addressing Sylvia: A Comic about Sylvia Plath’s Last Address

Panel 5 from Priego, Ernesto (2019): Adressing Sylvia. figshare. Poster. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7803530
Panel 5 from Priego, Ernesto (2019): Adressing Sylvia. figshare. Poster. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7803530

In early January 2019 I took a walk.
I made a comic about it and shared it on Figshare. (I subsequently did a a new version with a minor revision, and updated the description in the record; the link should take you to the latest version).
Priego, Ernesto (2019): Addressing Sylvia. figshare. Poster. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7803530

El extraño caso de los archivos reaparecidos / The Strange Case of the Reappeared Archives: Carta Abierta/Open Letter: Periódico de Poesía 2007-2018

[Leer y firmar carta aquí / read sign the letter here]

 

[English version below]

[He compartido aquí esta carta abierta para que quede registro de su existencia. Cuando recibí noticia de esta carta, iniciada por Jorge Fondebrider, el 29 de enero, el archivo de los números 2007-2018 del Periódico de Poesía no estaba disponible de manera clara y visible al visitar https://periodicodepoesia.unam.mx/.  Para mayor contexto sobre la genealogía de este misterioso caso de archivos desaparecidos y reaparecidos, ver el post de Jorge en https://buenosairespoetry.com/2019/01/30/carta-abierta-las-razones-de-un-texto-y-muchas-firmas-jorge-fondebrider/.

Es mi opinión que este es un caso que deja claro que cuestiones de infraestructura académica y humanística, que son casos de arquitectura de la información, son casos políticos. El diseño es político. Lo es porque este es un caso de mal diseño de la interface y del archivo, dejando 10 años (y probablemente más años) de trabajo humanísitico a la intemperie, en riesgo constante de accidente y desaparición. Por eso la carta sigue siendo relevante, pues la reaparición de los archivos desaparecidos no soluciona el problema: es hora de llamar a un experto en ciencias de la información (¡un bibliotecario y archivista!) para que ponga en orden las cosas en el sitio del Periódico de Poesía. Su futuro depende de que eso pase.

I have shared here this open letter for the record. At the time we began collecting the initial signatures, the 2007-2018 issues of Periódico de Poesía were not clearly and visibly available when visiting https://periodicodepoesia.unam.mx/. A day later, once the word had spread, they suddenly reappeared on its home page. For more context on the genealogy of this strange case of disappeared and reappeared archives, please read Jorge’s post at https://buenosairespoetry.com/2019/01/30/carta-abierta-las-razones-de-un-texto-y-muchas-firmas-jorge-fondebrider/.

In my opinion this is a case that proves that issues of academic infrastructure, which are issues of information architecture, are political issues. In other words, information architecture is political. Design is political. It is political because bad interface and archive design are endangering cultural heritage (particularly, but not only, in the Global South). The open letter below is still relevant because the sudden reappearance of the missing archives does not solve the main issue: it is time to call an information professional (a librarian and archivist!) to put things in order at the Periódico de Poesía site. Its future depends on it.]

Los abajo firmantes solicitamos a la UNAM volver a poner a disposición del público el archivo completo del Periódico de Poesía abierta y formalmente en línea, incluyendo todos los números publicados entre 2007 y 2018, los cuales hasta hace poco no aparecían en su archivo en línea, o aparecen/aparecían en locaciones confusas o poco adecuadas del sitio.

The undersigned request UNAM makes the complete archive of Periódico de Poesía (including all the issues published between 2007 and 2018, which until very recently were missing or misplaced) openly available to the public again in an appropriate location within the whole archive.

Para mayor contexto / more context at: https://buenosairespoetry.com/2019/01/30/carta-abierta-las-razones-de-un-texto-y-muchas-firmas-jorge-fondebrider/

[Firmar carta aquí / sign the letter here]

 

Periódico de Poesía: https://periodicodepoesia.unam.mx/

Texto completo de la carta abierta y firmantes iniciales / Full Open Letter in Spanish and initial signataries:

 

Carta Abierta

Periódico de Poesía 2007-2018: Solicitamos volver a poner a disposición del público el archivo completo del Periódico de Poesía en línea de manera formal, segura, sustentable y permanente.

Los abajo firmantes, colaboradores y lectores del Periódico de Poesía de la UNAM entre 2007 y 2018, solicitamos encarecidamente que se vuelva a poner a disposición del público, en formato PDF así como en HTML (ya que el Periódico también publicaba material interactivo) la totalidad de los números publicados en ese periodo, que actualmente no se encuentran donde corresponde, que es en el “Archivo de épocas anteriores de Periódico de Poesía” (http://www.archivopdp.unam.mx/index.php/del-papel-a-pdf).

Habiéndolos publicado ad honorem, los colaboradores entendemos que la única compensación posible por nuestros trabajos es permitir que los lectores, pasados, presentes y futuros, puedan acceder libremente al fruto de nuestros esfuerzos. Así mismo, dada la actual fragilidad del archivo, solicitamos que la UNAM resguarde todos los números del Periódico de Poesía de manera formal en su repositorio institucional, para así asegurar que el contenido esté disponible de manera segura, sustentable y permanente.

Nos sentimos orgullosos de haber colaborado en el Periódico de Poesía y de que nuestra labor sea parte de su patrimonio. Pedimos entonces que la UNAM atienda nuestro reclamo y corrija esta situación.

Atentamente,

[Firmar carta aquí / sign the letter here]

Firmantes iniciales:

ADOLFO CASTAÑÓN (México)
ALEJANDRO SANDOVAL ÁVILA (México)
ALEXIS GÓMEZ ROSA (Rep. Dominicana)
ALFONSO ALEGRE (España)
ALFONSO OREJEL SORIA (México)
ALICIA GARCÍA BERGUA (México)
ÁLVARO VALVERDE (España)
ANA FRANCO (México)
ANDRÉS EHRENHAUS (Argentina)
ANNA CROWE (Escocia)
ANTONIO MARTÍN ALBALATE (España)
ARGEL CORPUS (México)
ARMANDO ROA VIAL (Chile)
AURELIO MAJOR (España/México/Canadá)
BÁRBARA BELLOC (Argentina)
BERNARDO RUÍZ (México)
BLANCA STREPPONI (Argentina / Venezuela)
BRENDA RÍOS (México)
CARLA FAESLER (México)
CARLOS LÓPEZ (México)
CARLOS LÓPEZ BELTRÁN (México)
CARLOS MAPES (México)
CARLOS VITALE (Argentina)
CARMEN SÁNCHEZ (México)
CITLALI GUERRERO (México)
CLAUDIA LUNA FUENTES (México)
CLAUDIA MELNIK (Argentina)
CORAL BRACHO (México)
DANA GELINAS (México)
DANIEL GOLDIN HALFON (México)
DARÍO JARAMILLO (Colombia)
DIANA BELLESSI (Argentina)
EDUARDO ESPINA (Uruguay)
EDUARDO GARCÍA AGUILAR (Colombia)
EDUARDO HURTADO (México)
EDUARDO MILÁN (Uruguay/México)
EDUARDO MOGA (España)
EDWARD HIRSCH (Estados Unidos)
ELIOT WEINBERGER (Estados Unidos)
ENRIQUE JUNCOSA (España)
ENRIQUE WINTER (Chile)
ERNESTO PRIEGO (México/Reino Unido)
FABIO JURADO VALENCIA (Colombia)
FABIO MORÁBITO (México)
FERNANDO HERRERA GÓMEZ (Colombia)
FRANCISCO JOSÉ CRUZ (España)
FRANCISCO SEGOVIA (México)
GASTÓN ALEJANDRO MARTÍNEZ SALDIERNA (México)
GERARDO PINA (México)
GOYA GUTIÉRREZ (España)
GUSTAVO GUERRERO (Venezuela)
GWEN KIRKPATRICK (Estados Unidos)
HARRYETTE MULLEN (Estados Unidos)
HÉCTOR CARRETO (México)
HÉLÈNE CARDONA (Estados Unidos/España)
HERMANN BELLINGHAUSEN (México)
HUGH HAZELTON (Estados Unidos)
IGNACIO DI TULIO (Argentina)
INÉS GARLAND (Argentina)
JAN DE JAGER (Argentina)
JOHN BURNSIDE (Escocia)
JORGE AGUILAR MORA (México)
JORGE AULICINO (Argentina – Premio Nacional de Poesía)
JORGE FONDEBRIDER (Argentina)
JORGE VALDÉZ DÍAZ-VÉLEZ (México)
JOSÉ CARLOS CATAÑO (Canarias-Cataluña)
JOSÉ LUIS BOBADILLA (México)
JOSÉ MARÍA ESPINASA (México)
JOSÉ RAMÓN RIPOLL (España)
JUAN ANTONIO MASOLIVER (España)
JUAN ANTONIO MONTIEL (México/España)
JUAN ARABIA (Argentina)
JUAN CARLOS ABRIL (España)
JUAN CARLOS MARSET (España)
JUAN ESMERIO NAVARRO (México)
JULIA PIERA (España)
JULIÁN HERBERT (México)
JULIO ORTEGA (Perú)
KATHERINE SILVER (Estados Unidos)
LOREA CANALES (México)
LUCRECIA ORENSANZ (México)
LUIS ARMENTA MALPICA (México)
LUIS BRAVO (Uruguay)
LUIS CORTES BARGALLÓ (México)
LUIS MIGUEL AGUILAR (México)
MAGNUS WILLIAM-OLSSON (Suecia)
MARCOS RICARDO BARNATÁN (España)
MARÍA RIVERA (México)
MARINA SERRANO (Argentina)
MARIO CAMPAÑA (Ecuador)
MARIO MONTALBETTI (Perú)
MARK SCHAFER (Estados Unidos)
MARTÍN ESPADA (Estados Unidos)
MATT BROGAN (Estados Unidos)
MERCEDES ÁLVAREZ (Argentina)
MICAELA CHIRIF (Perú)
MICHAEL O’LOUGHLIN (Irlanda)
MIGUEL ÁNGEL PETRECCA (Argentina)
MIGUEL ÁNGEL ZAPATA (Perú)
MIGUEL CASADO (España)
PEDRO POITEVIN (Estados Unidos)
RAFAEL JOSÉ DÍAZ (España)
RICHARD GWYN (Gales)
RODICA GRIGORE (Rumania)
RODOLFO MATA (México)
SAMUEL BOSSINI (Argentina)
SERGIO GASPAR (España)
SILVANA FRANZETTI (Argentina)
SILVIA CAMEROTTO (Argentina)
SILVIA EUGENIA CASTILLERO (México)
SONIA HERNÁNDEZ (España)
SUSANA CABUCHI (Argentina)
SUSANNA RAFART (España)
TANYA HUNTINGTON (Estados Unidos)
TERESA ARIJÓN (Argentina)
TOM POW (Escocia)
VERÓNICA GROSSI (México)
VERÓNICA ZONDEK (Chile)
VÍCTOR RODRÍGUEZ NÚÑEZ (Cuba)
W. H. HERBERT (Escocia)
XANATH CARAZA (México)
XIMENA ATRISTAIN LÓPEZ (México)
VICTOR SOTO FERREL (Tijuana, México)
YOLANDA PANTIN (Venezuela)
ZAZIL COLLINS (México)

 

[Firmar carta aquí / sign the letter here]

Reference

Fondebrider, Jorge; Priego, Ernesto; et al. (2019): Carta Abierta/Open Letter: Periódico de Poesía 2007-2018. figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7657976.v1

 

Le temps déborde

Chaque jour plus matinale

Chaque saison plus nue

Plus fraîche

-Paul Éluard, La vie, 1926

 

[and with apologies to Mr Cave]

 

 

“I get lucky/I get lucky”

sings the voice:

this morning

always to-day

(was it yesterday?)

as the day dawns slowly

yet impossibly quick- unstoppable.

We get lucky.

Each day more

like a morning

colder

like that morning

in the 10th arrondissement

with Let Love In looping

(could not have been

a tape, could it?)

we wrote “Liberty”

here and there

on the walls

the bridges

every stone

again and again

from city to city

we get lucky

we get lucky

(repeat)

(repeat)

because we try and try again

the world becomes more

like morning

every day.

He spoke to us

of eternity

 

 

A Backward Glance

I become a dumb man.”

– Walt Whitman, 1856

 

How little did I know

about Lazarus’ true feelings

waking up a decade later

dead tired & unable to digest

the universe before him.

A backward glance

does not reveal the past

but the load on neck &

shoulders & the eyes,

the eyes blinded by the light.

¡Levántate, Lázaro! the accent

lacks the strength required

to lift the dead weight towards life.

The singer knew it. The earth

remains jagged and broken–

only to him.

 

 

Réentrée

There is nothing like peer review

to infuse in you the fear for writing.

One has to take the plunge one morning

and write for no other reason but the dew.

Whatever this is it is not autobiographical:

things do not have to be avant la lettre;

things can mean something else

not referring to the speaker, nor to

you, dear reader, of all people.

She did not marry him-

she was someone else,

and he was simply her invention.

That is the thing with poetry,

the focus, as you know, is on words

and lines and all those blank spaces;

god only knows what that void means,

like code, it makes you pay attention:

every character counts for different reasons,

in the context of its space and what is near.

 

Pessoa’s last names were his penance.

 

De Los demonios y los días/From Of Demons and Days

Rest in peace, Rubén Bonifaz Nuño (1923-2013).

I have attempted an English translation of poem number 42 from “Los demonios y los días” (1956). The original Spanish below.

From the sadness that falls down,
from the pain that tires me,
from my office, from the mess of my room,
from these lonely man’s blankets,
from this paper, I extend my hand.

I can no longer only be
the one who says goodbye alone, who lives
of such naked separations
that not even hope
do they give in return; he who in a book
undresses himself and learns and teaches
the same poverty, page by page.

I am writing to you all
so you know my address,
in case you’d like to answer.

I write my letter to tell you
this is indeed what happens: we are sick
of time, of the air itself,
of the grief we breathe,
of the loneliness that falls upon us.

I just pretend to talk to someone,
to speak and listen. It’s no big deal.
With people who seem different
I walk, I work with every day;
and I do not greet anyone: I fear.

I know that should not be, that perhaps
someone needs me without knowing it.
I need them too. Now
I say it out loud, simply.

I wrote at the beginning: I extend my hand.
I hope someone understands it.

Desde la tristeza que se desploma,
desde mi dolor que me cansa,
desde mi oficina, desde mi cuarto revuelto,
desde mis cobijas de hombre solo,
desde este papel, tiendo la mano.

Ya no puedo ser solamente
el que dice adiós, el que vive
de separaciones tan desnudas
que ya ni siquiera la esperanza
dejan de un regreso; el que en un libro
desviste y aprende y enseña
la misma pobreza, hoja por hoja.

Estoy escribiendo para que todos
puedan conocer mi domicilio,
por si alguno quiere contestarme.

Escribo mi carta para decirles
que esto es lo que pasa: estamos enfermos
del tiempo, del aire mismo,
de la pesadumbre que respiramos,
de la soledad que se nos impone.

Yo sólo pretendo hablar con alguien,
decir y escuchar. No es gran cosa.
Con gentes distintas en apariencia
camino, trabajo todos los días;
y no me saludo con nadie: temo.

Entiendo que no debe ser, que acaso
hay quien, sin saberlo, me necesita.
Yo lo necesito también. Ahora
lo digo en voz alta, simplemente.

Escribí al principio: tiendo la mano.
Espero que alguno lo comprenda.