Sunday, July 18, 2010

those enfants terribles taking final exams

now that nobody is commenting on these posts anymore, i am positive no one is in the room of this literary salon that is proceeding as slow as a snail in its development.
I can comfortably let a little fart out without feeling deadly ashamed and embarassed and I can talk to myself out loud without seeming crazy.
Therefore, out loud, I will remind myself that right now I'm reading Les enfants terribles by Jean Cocteau, beautiful, one of those reads you know it is going to stick with you, underneath your skin, forever even if,for some obscure reason, you decided that you wanted to forget about it. It is a book I wish I have read ten years ago, at least. Brother and sister share a private world from which the outer world is excluded, a world ruled by the rules of the Game.
Where did I find it? in front of my door-step, delivered by the postman right to my house all the way from Ireland, wrapped in an envelope without the sender's name nor address for a possible return in case it got lost.It could have really gotten lost badly. However I got it and I not only got the book in the envelope. The book was wrapped inside a HAND-WRITTEN letter that started with my name. How often does that happen?
Days go by at the bookstore selling books,buying books,finding and losing books, missing books, forgetting books, pricing books, cleaning books and also discovering books.
So the other day one of those books that speak to you straight from the cover, fell into my hands as randomly as a snow flake on your tongue: Final exam, by Julio Cortazar. By now I have developed the sixth sense of a bookseller which is being able to recognize the smell of a good book and so I approached reading pieces and bits here and there to see what kind of goodness I stumbled on.
Its edition is an advance uncorrected proof of New Directions Books, with an introduction by its translator,Alfred Mac Adam. Towards the end of this very informative intro, the translator tells us that,quote: the book could be considered a summary of the author's readings during the 1940s, from the forgotten detective novels of Nigel Balchin to the almost forgotten existentialist novels of Andre' Malraux. It is tempting, the translator continues, to read the novel as Cortazar's autobiography, but that is inaccurate , even though he infuses many of his literary and esthetic believes into the male characters.For example Andres ,like Cortazar himself, is dazzled by Jean Cocteau's Opium,which opens the door to surrealism.End of quote.
That day my cinese fortune cookie said: today you will believe in magic, books are like invisible bridges over infinite rivers of infinite possibilities. (cheesy as usual!)
Another read I'm going to look forward to.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

las uvas y el viento

I was reminded that I needed to read Neruda ( thank you Joe!) and what I have sitting on my shelf at home is the collection the poet wrote during his exile in Italy, early 1950's, Las uvas y el viento, and since I like games I decided to open the book with my eyes shut and read whatever poem I would blindly choose.
And this is how I came to read, La Policia:
we are
la policia
-and you? Who are you?
where do you come from, where
do you want to go?
your father? your brother in law?
whom did you sleep with in the last seven nights?
-I have slept with my love, I belong perhaps,
I belong to Poetry.
And it is so that a gondola
blacker than the others
behind me brought them to Venezia
to Bologna at night,
on the train: i am a wondering shadow
followed by shadows.
I saw in Venezia, the church tower standing
elevating among the pigeons of San Marco
its police-like triple horn.
And Paolina, naked, in the museum,
when I kissed her beautiful cold mouth
asked me: are your legal papers in order?
in Dante's house
under the ancient florentine roofs
interrogations are happening, and David
with his marble eyes,without eye-balls
forgot his father,Buonarroti,
because every day they force him to say
what he saw with his blind eyes.
however that day
when they were taking me to the Swiss border
la policia suddenly encountered,
coming toward them,
the militant poetry.
I won't forget the roman moltitude
that at the station,during the night,
seized me away from the hands
of the persecuting police.

How could I forget Guttuso's fighting gesture
and Giuliano's face
The wave of rage, the hounds' hit on the nose
how to forget Mario,
from whom, exiled, I learned how to love Italy' freedom,
and then outraged the white head
I saw confused
in the rough sea
of my friends and enemies?
I won't forget Elsa Morante's little umbrella
falling on a police's chest
like the heavy petal of blooming strenght.
And so in Italy
by the people's will
with poetry's weight,
solidarity's firmness,
the action of tenderness,
an halt was put to my destiny.
and so it happened
that this book was being born
surrounded by the sea and lemon trees,
listening in silence,
behind the police wall,
how the valorous people
fought and is fighting,
sang and is singing
winning the battle so that I could
rest in the island that was waiting for me
with a blooming jasmine branch in its mouth
and in its small hands the source of my song.

Pablo Neruda

Forgive the rough and poor translation, but I could not find one anywhere on line, so I had to do it myself.
My question is: would we still be capable of defending Poetry with such conviction these days?