Poetry Tuesday: Two Excerpts from Tomas Transtromer

Thank you to poet Angela Narciso Torres, who introduced self to Tomas Transtromer last November in Venice Beach, California.

She has a copy of The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems, translated from the Swedish by Robin Fulton.

Here’s an excerpt from his poem “Morning Birds”:

It grows, it takes my place,
It pushes me aside.
It throws me out of the nest.
The poem is ready.

And here’s an excerpt from his poem “Song”:

The gathering of white birds grew: gulls
dressed in canvas from the sails of foundered ships
but stained by vapors from forbidden shores.

Transtromer was born in Stockholm in 1931. He spent many years working as a psychologist in Vasterlas, which has established a Transtromer Prize in his honor.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Reading List Advances — Finally!

Self bid adieu to Roberto Bolaño and 2666 this morning. That was after she spent over a week reading about all the different women who were buried in mass graves around a town named Santa Teresa. That was in Part II.

The writing was so beautiful, she hated to stop reading before getting all the way to the end, and she admires Bolaño for having the fortitude to Read the rest of this entry »

Hossein M. Abkenar: “Classmates” (Witness, Trans/lation Issue, Spring 2015)

We were some forty or fifty students in a large class. After we graduated, we each went our own way. That same year, Javad decided not to continue with his education. Reza Karimi went to the front and was martyred. When they returned his body, a ceremony was held at the school. Afterward, a large crowd went to his memorial service at the mosque. When Ramin finished his military service, he started his own company. Supposedly, in the services industry. Rassouli became a pilot. His plane crashed during the war and he was captured.

— “Classmates” by Hossein M. Akbenar, translated from the Persian by Sara Kahlili (Witness, Spring 2015)

Witness: The Trans/lation Issue (Spring 2015)

Where is self? She is here, right here:

Witness: The Trans/lation Issue, Launched at the AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis, April 2015

Witness: The Trans/lation Issue, Launched at the AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis, April 2015

This issue of Witness features writing from around the world. And self is more than proud to be in the same issue as:

  • Dario Belleza (translated from the Italian by Peter Covino)
  • Arthur Rimbaud (translated from the French by Donald Revell)
  • Hossein M. Abkenar (translated from the Persian by Sara Khalili)
  • Christos Chartomatsidis (translated from the Bulgarian by Velina Minkoff, Rayna Rossenova, and Borislava Velkova)
  • Moniru Ravanipour (translated from the Persian by Shirindokht Nourmanesh and Moniru Ravanipour)
  • Karl Ove Knausgaard (translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett)
YAY! Self made it! She is here!

YAY! Self made it! She is here!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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.

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