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Poetry / Poesía

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Personas libro (castellano)
Book persons (English)
Other poetry

Personas libro” en Carboneras

Más de 20 personas en Carboneras participamos en el programa Personas libro / Fahrenheit 451, donde cada uno elige un texto (poema, relato corto, escena teatral o cualquier otro) para aprender de memoria y “entregar” al público (como dice nuestro director, Antonio). Nuestras presentaciones han tenido muy buena acogida, tanto en Carboneras como en otras comunidades.

En nuestros casi dos años de existencia, hemos aprendido cientos de textos. Aquí indicamos nada más los autores y títulos presentados por nosotros dos (Balta y Gef) hasta ahora:

Juan Gelman
Pablo Neruda

Heberto Padilla

Book Persons”: English

A smaller group of English-speakers in Carboneras have formed an English counterpart of the Spanish “Personas libro.” Each participant selects and learns a poem or other short text to present to the group. Beginning in February 2008, we have been meeting on the last Friday of the month, through May -- before a vacation break. Here are the presenters and texts so far, with links where on-line versions are available.

Geoffrey Fox
Andrew Hull
  • Philip Larkin, “Armstrong's Last Goodnight” (music review) in Larkin, Philip. All What Jazz: A Record Diary 1961-1971. Rev. ed. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1985.
  • Philip Larkin, This Be the Verse
David Jones
Hazel Jones
Larry Leitch
Milagros Martínez
Pamela Ravander
Mario Sanz
  • Ernesto Cardenal, This will be my vengeance (translation from Spanish)
John Taylor
Jeanne Durban Taylor
Susana Torre



Audrey Leitch, "Poem." This untitled poem was never published in Audrey Leitch's lifetime. According to Larry Leitch, her brother, she wrote it when as a British subject, she had to leave Denmark and her Danish lover early in the war.

We might have scaled the heights just you and I
And let the worldly turmoil all go by
As children of the Gods in quest of truth
From man made sham and artifice aloof
We might have basked and reveled in the sun
And sung sweet songs and laughed when day was done
and strode broad highways, gay without a care
Our hearts and minds as one in harmony
And marveled in our love as lovers do.

We might ----- had you loved me as I loved you.

Audrey Leitch
Randers - Viborgweg
November 1941


This is the Coda to the book by Lauren Muller, June Jordan, and Poetry for the People (Organization). June Jordan's Poetry for the People: a revolutionary blueprint. New York: Routledge, 1995.

I ain't goin' nowhere unless you come with me
I say, I ain't goin' nowhere less'n you come with me
I ain't about to be some leaf that lose its tree
So take my hand, see how I'm reachin' out for you
Hey, here's my hand, see how I'm reachin out for you
We got a whole lot more than only one of us can do


Other poetry / más poesía

Auden, W. H. Collected Poems
Dalton, Roque.
Poesía Escogida
Jiménez, Blas R. El Nativo (Versos en cuentos para espantar zombies)
Jordan, June. haruko/love poems
Jordan, June. Kissing God Goodbye: Poems 1991-1997.
Loynaz, Dulce María. Melancolía de Otoño.
Machado, Antonio, Galerías
Mejía Godoy, Luis E., "Mi venganza personal." See
Mermaids and Other Fetishes
Miller, Walter James. Love's Mainland: New and Selected Poems
Nemerov, Howard. The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov
Rosaldo, Renato. Prayer to Spider Woman / Rezo a la mujer araña

Auden, W. H. Collected Poems. Edited by Edward Mendelson. New York: Vintage International, 1976. 926 pp.

"This book contains all the poems that W. H. Auden wished to preserve, in a text that honors his final intentions." Editor's Preface, xvii. However, it leaves out some wonderful stanzas that Auden apparently did not wish to preserve, including these from "In Memory of W. B. Yeats":

Time that is intolerant
Of the brave and innocent,
And indifferent in a week
To a beautiful physique,

Worships language and forgives
Everyone by whom it lives;
Pardons cowardice, conceit,
Lays its honors at their feet.

Time that with its strange excuse
Pardoned Kipling and his views,
And will pardon Paul Claudel
Pardons him for writing well.

(Thanks to Dirk van Nouhuys for locating these verses.) Wise, witty, cantankerous, often lovely, sometimes irritating (Auden had strong opinions), but always intelligent. (Auden, Feb. 21, 1907-Sept. 29, 1973) 

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Dalton, Roque. Poesía Escogida. San José, Costa Rica: Editorial Universitaria Centroamericana (EDUCA), 1983.

Roque Dalton (b. 1935) was a Salvadoran law student driven by the crude lawlessness of his country to commit poetry. He committed quite a lot of it, and survived two firing squads, gangs of murderous thugs, torture, animal attacks and outraged husbands while scrambling from one revolutionary posture to the next, in Central America and then Eastern Europe and back to Central America. Ultimately he was executed on May 17, 1975 by his supposed comrades in El Salvador's Frente Farabundo Martí de Liberación Nacional, acting out the roles that Bertolt Brecht decades earlier had assigned to Chinese revolutionaries in "The Measures Taken" (Die Massnahme).

He's sometimes funny, in a sick kind of way. Mainly the poetry is painful. And it brings back memories of the horrible torment of those years in Central America. Not the sort of thing to calm your anxieties.
But worst of all: He was a terrible poet. Irritating, complaining, unmusical. Maybe that was why they shot him (the story has always been murky -- some of those involved rose to be powerful figures in the FMLN, and didn't want to talk about it). Still, he fascinates me. I think that Roque Dalton's poetry was not in his poetry, but in his life. One could use that life as the thread to draw through the bright-colored, tear-stained tejidos of a whole era of Central America.

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Jiménez, Blas R. El Nativo (Versos en cuentos para espantar zombies). Santo Domingo: Editora Búho, 1996. 70 pp.

Mi favorito es Núm. 14, que empieza así: "Cuando el hijo del general trajo la moda de los espejuelos oscuros. ... Cuando la intelectualidad era cómplice y culpable." Dedicado por el autor, en la Librería La Trinitaria, 16-02-2001

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Jordan, June. haruko/love poems. Foreword by Adrienne Rich. New York: High Risk Books, 1994.

Lucky Haruko, whoever he was, to be so loved. 

June Jordan, Kissing God Goodbye: Poems 1991-1997. New York: Anchor Doubleday, 1997.

The title poem alone is worth the price of the book, but also be sure to read "Letter to Mrs. Virgina Thomas, Wife of Whatzhisname Lamentably appointed to the Supreme Court, U.S.A.," and for something really timely, "The Bombing of Baghdad." You can hear her reading some of her poems here.

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Loynaz, Dulce María. Melancolía de Otoño. Poesía. Pinar del Río (Cuba), Ediciones "Hermanos Loynaz": 1997. Edición financiada por el Excmo. Ayuntamiento de Jerez de la Frontera, España. 92 pp. 

In Havana's Plaza de Armas every morning of the week, hundreds of men and women strain to pull low-slung, steel-wheeled wagons to their reserved spots, where they begin unloading boxes of books, tables and homemade folding display racks. By ten a.m. or so, they are displaying thousands of titles. Most are products of a publishing industry that thrived during the optimistic days of the revolution, but has now been cut down to almost nothing by shortages of everything from paper to ink to electricity to run the presses. There is also a terrible shortage of anything to buy with Cuban pesos, which is why schoolteachers, accountants, pharmacists, architects and even surgeons have given up their state-salaried jobs to peddle whatever they can -- including books -- to foreign visitors. That's why last January a vendor was delighted to let me have this slender volume for a couple of dollars.

Dulce María Loynaz was born in 1902 (I gather from the introduction) and died some 90 years later, after producing many volumes of poetry and fiction. In 1992 she was awarded the Premio Cervantes, Spain's highest literary prize. This volume is a posthumous homage, composed of things she had written in her 20's and rediscovered many decades later. They are romantic, elliptical, sometimes just plain silly -- which is no doubt why she had never sought to publish them. Yet there are gems here. Here is one:

Hay gente que si pudiera, arrancaría los rayos

de la luna, para amarrarse Los zapatos.

(There are people who would, if they could, pluck out the moonbeams to tie their shoes.)

-- Dulce María Loynaz (Cuba)

(See my essay on bookselling and book-making in Cuba, in Linnaean Street, spring 2000.)

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Machado, Antonio, Galerías (1899-1907), LXXXIII

Guitarra del mesón que hoy suenas jota,
mañana petenera,
según quien llega y tañe
las empolvadas cuerdas,

guitarra del mesón de los caminos,
no fuiste nunca, ni serás, poeta.

Tú eres alma que dice su armonía
solitaria a las almas pasajeras...

Y siempre que te escucha el caminante
sueña escuchar un aire de su tierra.

(On the web, see Antonio Machado.)

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Miller, Walter James. Love's Mainland: New and Selected Poems. Middletown NY: Lintel, 2001. 88 pp.

Always intelligent, always artful, often poignant, Walter Miller's writing is most effective when it captures some immediate sense experience -- visual, tactile, sometimes aural --and translates it in words that make us feel something like that original sensation. That's quite a trick. One example that especially impressed me is the poem "A Rocky Mountain Cloud," which includes this description of waking up at a campsite:

Aspens titter among the solemn spruce, a wind
hints into the tent a day can die of chill
and lifts and lilts the blanket of my goldlint child

who rouses when I leap up when an indignant grouse
like a motorboat that shouts its startled starting
flushes up and churns a tumult through the spruce

If you've never heard the loud churning of an indignant grouse, maybe this will do nothing for you. But if you have, you know the description is just perfect, as is that glow of affection for a sleeping child. "Noon Whistle," a celebration of skyscraping construction workers "swinging down/ from their hammered iron oath that squared/ the air..." is another bright gem. Also included is the verse play, "Joseph in the Pit," a fascinating anthropological speculation as to just what was going on between Joseph (he of the coat of many colors) and his ten brothers in that polygamous tribal culture. And here are other poems inspired by such experiences as: induction into the US Army (in World War II) and getting mustered out ("Honorable Discharge" is one his most celebrated poems, and justly so); amatory, comradely and professional relationships, and the search for life in the deadening routine of a college writing instructor.

Several of the poems were new to me, but others I've known for almost as long as I've known Walter, which is since I was a student in his "New York University Summer Writers Conference" about 15 years ago. But that is only a small portion of his experience on this planet, which began in 1918. This collection spans nearly 60 years of work and play with words, and it's good to see that Walter James Miller is still so playful.

(To purchase this book, send $16 for hardcover or $12 for paperback edition, along with $2 shipping and handling, to Lintel, 24 Blake Lane, Middletown NY 10940-7370. (914) 344-1690. And while you're at it, ask them to send you my book of short stories, Welcome to My Contri. Enclose another $9, and if you're ordering both books at once, just $1 more for shipping and handling.)

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Nemerov, Howard. The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981. "The Image and the Law (1947)," pp. 1-48.

Striking images, oddly timely. This is from "Frozen City":

I saw by moonlight New York
Which was called in my dream
The Island of God, and achieved
In the paralysis of distance
A splendid fixity, as though the parable of a town.
Cold space parted me from
The marvelous towers
Towards which I strained.

The young Nemerov had little patiences for "the snide/ Incredulous stares of the/ Proprietors of contemporary thought," in "The Place of Value."

And from "Metropolitan Sunday":

The Chrysler building points
With obscene derision at the bland
Submissive sky, ...

Obviously depressed, the poet asks

Could not one be
Elsewhere, or in Boston?

Now that's depression, when a New Yorker fantasizes being in Boston! 02/05/20

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Rosaldo, Renato. Prayer to Spider Woman / Rezo a la mujer araña. Saltillo, Coahuila: Instituto Coahuilense de Cultura, 2003.

Bilingual - all poems translated by the poet himself. Subject matter is mostly reflections on los achaques de viejo, ironías del pequeño mundo académico, recuerdos familiares del poeta mismo. A diferencia de sus mejores escritos antropológicos, aquí Renato Rosaldo no parece interesarse en un mundo más grande, más allá de las percepciones del autor. Pensándolo bien, así se podría describir su antropología también: el mundo no como es, sino cómo una persona particular lo pueda ver.

 

Vulpis Literarius

This Chauntecleer, whan he gan hym espye,
He wolde han fled, but that the fox anon
Seyde, "Gentil sire, allas, wher wol ye gon?
Be ye affrayed of me that am youre freend?
Now certes, I were worse than a feend
If I to yow wolde harm or vileynye.
I am nat come your conseil for tespye,
But trewely, the cause of my comynge
Was oonly for to herkne how that ye synge."

"The Nonnes Preestes Tale" - Geoffrey Chaucer

 

 

 

For treason is but trusted like the fox,
Who, ne'er so tame, so cherish'd and lock'd up,
Will have a wild trick of his ancestors.

King Henry IV, Act 5, Scene 2 -
William Shakespeare

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