Miguel Hernandez, translated by Don Share

Every so often, I have to re-read this poem by Miguel Hernandez, translated by Don Share:

Everything is filled with you,
and everything is filled with me:
the towns are full,
just as the cemeteries are full
of you, all the houses
are full of me, all the bodies.

I wander down streets losing
things I gather up again:
parts of my life
that have turned up from far away.

I wing myself toward agony,
I see myself dragging
through a doorway,
through creation’s latent depths.

Everything is filled with me:
with something yours and memory
lost, yet found
again, at some other time.

A time left behind
decidedly black,
indelibly red,
golden on your body.

Pierced by your hair,
everything is filled with you,
with something I haven’t found,
but look for among your bones.

So beautiful.

Stay tuned.

“Place, Memoir, Journey” Workshop, This Saturday & Sunday

Self’s primary purpose in coming here to Mendocino is to teach a workshop. A travel writing workshop. A workshop on writing about place. About a physical location. Something that exists. And damn self is going to make the students write as hard as they can. Write write write write write write, dear students. The funny thing about travel writing is: you’re writing about place, but you’re also writing about memory. And damn we will mine those memories to the max, dear students! Especially those of you who arrive in Mendocino from far away. From, say, Louisville! So, in order to prepare the students for this wonderful two-day hard writing weekend, self has been immersing herself in manuscripts. She’s looked at Zack Linmark’s Leche, which is tremendously inspiring for voice work. And she’s reading Tony Robles’s about-to-be-published manuscript Cool Don’t Live Here No More, which is amazing for being about a specific place that he loves so much: San Francisco, South of Market (which may be disappearing under the onslaught of construction and high-tech companies moving in)

She’s also reading the absolutely heartbreaking memoir by Sonali Deraniyagala, Wave. Deraniyagala lost her entire family in the tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004. She lost her parents, her husband, and her two sons. And everyone told her: You’re so lucky you survived! Which just goes to show, people are stupid when it comes to pain. They either don’t feel it, or they feel it but they don’t want to feel it so they fight it and end up doing things like telling a woman whose entire life has been wiped out in one day: Thank the Lord you survived!

She’s also reading Thomas Lynch, who’s a poet but also an undertaker and also a memoir writer. She’s reading Nandini Dhar’s Lullabies are Barbed Nations. She wishes she had something by Atul Gawande and Abraham Verghese but after all, she could not bring her whole personal book collection to Mendocino. She’s still reading Roberto Bolaño and on the basis of the individual sentence, he is amazing. She thinks he has one sentence that goes on for two pages (Translator Natasha Wimmer, self salutes you) She will include the first page of her story “Rufino,” because it’s so far the only one of her short stories that mentions Neil Young. And Luisa Igloria’s poem “Oir” from her collection The Saints of Streets. And that’s as far as she’s taken her reading list at the moment. Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

This Evening, Tomas Transtromer

When self was with Angela Narciso Torres in Venice Beach in November, Angela took self to A Small World, a fabulous bookstore fronting the beach. Self ended up getting poetry collections by Neruda and Tomas Transtromer.

This evening, self is looking through Transtromer’s collection The Great Enigma (Pretty fabulous, that title!), translated by Robin Fulton.

The back cover has the New York Times quoting Transtromer as saying, “My poems are meeting places.”

Oh. Wow. Self can’t even. Just. Kill her now.

Here’s an excerpt from Transtromer’s Balakirev’s Dream:

 The black grand piano, the gleaming spider
trembled at the center of its net of music.

In the concert hall a land was conjured up
where stones were no heavier than dew.

Love, love, love those images.

Stay tuned.

Pablo Neruda: “Loves, The City” (Amores: La Ciudad)

from Intimismos: Poemas de Amor (Each poem is accompanied by a beautiful painting by Mary Heebner)

Self bought her copy from Small World Books in Venice Beach, last November. The translation is by Alastair Reid. The excerpt below is from the poem “Loves: The City” (Amores: La Ciudad)

I think now that my poetry began (Pienso que se fundo mi poesia)
not in solitude but in a body, (no solo en soledad sino en un cuerpo)
another’s body, in a skin of moonlight, (y en otro cuerpo, a plena piel de luna)
in the abundant kisses of the earth. (y con todos los besos de la tierra.)

*     *     *     *

Here’s a link to another translation of Neruda by Alastair Reid:  Isla Negra.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

New: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is, fittingly enough, NEW.

Hence this post is about 1) New Books 2) New Experiences and 3) A New Play

New additions to self’s personal bookshelf. The Neruda she bought in Venice Beach. By the Book was a Christmas present.

New Books for the New Year

New Books for the New Year

First Time to Visit Chicago in the Fall:

Downtown Chicago: October 2014

Downtown Chicago: October 2014

Caught the U.S. premiere of Abbie Spillane’s new play, the scorching Strandline, at Chicago’s A Red Orchid Theatre:

This Chicago theatre was founded 25 years ago by actor Michael Shannon.

This Chicago theatre was founded 25 years ago by actor Michael Shannon. It’s an intimate (not to say wee) space. The night self saw it was the first night of previews and most of the people in the audience were actors and actresses.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Pile of Stuff: The New York Review of Books, 26 September 2013

Oh why oh why had self mis-laid this issue. Apparently it lay discarded in self’s clothes closet for over a year. And today is a busy busy Monday (Mondays always are), but she just can’t help perusing the issue. And it turns out, there are so many interesting reviews!

Without further ado, here are a couple of books reviewed in the 26 September 2013 issue of The New York Review of Books:

  • The Girl Who Loved Camellias: The Life and Legend of Marie Duplessis, by Julie Kavanagh (Knopf, $27.95)
  • The Lady of the Camellias, by Alexandre Dumas fils, translated from the French by Liesl Schillinger (Penguin, $16.00)
  • The Force of Things: A Marriage in War and Peace, by Alexander Stille (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28.00)
  • The Orphan Master’s Son, by Adam Johnson (Random House, $15.00)
  • Calcutta: Two Years in the City, by Amit Chaudhuri (Knopf, $25.95)
  • Subtle Bodies, by Norman Rush (Knopf, $26.95)
  • Mortals, by Norman Rush
  • Whites, by Norman Rush
  • The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon: An Elusive World Wonder Traced, by Stephanie Dalley (Oxford University Press, $34.95)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Past Exists

A number of years ago, self wrote a story called “Don Alfredo & Jose Rizal,” which wasn’t so much about Don Alfredo or Jose Rizal but was about a young woman who can’t seem to stop cutting herself (sins of the past!)

That story was published in Sou’wester in 2007.

Here’s an excerpt:

I think about her ex-husband, who left her for a kindergarten teacher while they were both waiting tables at the Captain’s Bar in Compton. Was that last year, or the year before? Time — the past — tunnels its way into our hearts, there is no way of knowing where all of this will end.

And then self thinks, also, of the Miguel Hernandez poem (translation by Don Share) that she’s had taped to the bookshelf above her computer, for over a year:

Pierced by your hair,
everything is filled with you,
with something I haven’t found,
but look for among your bones.

Self, Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, Ireland, May 2014

Self, Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, Ireland, May 2014

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“Loves: The City” by Pablo Neruda

Dear blog readers, when self was in Venice Beach, a month ago, the poet Angela Narciso Torres took her to a fabulous bookstore called Small World Books, on Ocean Front Walk.

The sun was shining, a man whose worldly goods were piled next to him on the beach gestured to the ocean and said to self: “See all that water? I’m going to turn it into wine.”

The Venice Beach pier is lined with quotes of poetry (on small wooden signs affixed to the handrails), and two of them are by Pablo Neruda.

In honor of the place and the poet, here’s a poem from Neruda’s Intimacies: Poems of Love, translated from the Spanish by Alastair Reid (HarperCollins 2008)

An Excerpt from Loves: The City

by Pablo Neruda

Student love igniting with October,
with cherry trees on fire in the poor streets
and the trams screeching round the corners,
girls like water, bodies
in the raw earth of Chile, mud and snow,
and light and the black night, reunited,
honeysuckle tumbled on the bed
with Rosa or Lina or Carmen naked there,
stripped, perhaps, of their mysteries,
else mysterious as they tangled
in the embrace, spiral or tower,
or the storm of mouths and jasmine.
Did it turn into yesterday or tomorrow,
that fleeting spring? Oh, the rhythm
of that electric waist

Swoon.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Excerpt from Miguel Hernandez Poem, Two Saturdays Before Christmas (2014)

Self adores Miguel Hernandez.

His poem, from which self is taking this excerpt, is tacked above her computer in son’s room. The translation is by Don Share.  Self discovered it in The New York Review of Books.

She reads it at least once a day.

Everything is filled with me:
with something yours and memory
lost, yet found
again, at some other time.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Monday Pile of Stuff: New York Review of Books, Dec. 13, 2013

The Pile of Stuff is mythic: it contains missives from — who knows — years back.

This morning, the first thing self pulls out of it is a New York Review of Books from Dec. 19, 2013.

Self adores poetry in translation, here’s one on NYRB p. 34, a Charles Simic translation of Radmila Lazic’s Psalm of Despair (Following is the opening verse):

PSALM OF DESPAIR

by Radmila Lazic

I dwell in a land of despair
In the city of despair
Among desperate people
Myself desperate
I embrace my desperate lover
With desperate hands
Whispering desperate words
Kissing him with desperate lips

And here are a few of the books reviewed in the issue:

Levels of Life, by Julian Barnes (Knopf, $22.95) — “It is, not surprisingly, a marvel of flickering Barnesian leitmotifs . . . ” (Reviewer Cathleen Schine)

American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell, by Deborah Solomon (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28)

Undisputed Truth, by Mike Tyson with Larry Sloman (Blue Rider, $30)

My Lunches with Orson: Conversations between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles, edited and with an introduction by Peter Biskind (Metropolitan, $28)

Orson Welles in Italy, by Alberto Anile, translated from the Italian by Marcus Perryman (Indiana University Press, $35)

This is Orson Welles: Conversations between Peter Bogdanovich and Orson Welles

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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