from Issue #4: Poetry by John Leonard

Photo (CC) David Masters @ Flickr

Photo (CC) David Masters @ Flickr

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A second exile

Into exile again—after months
Of darkness and fear in the dungeons,
The brief clamour of the trial,
Then the endless, jolting cartride,
Cursing of the guards’ detail, the freezing rain,
The helpless poverty of the flat,
Treeless land, dusty towns,
The shouts of the children, mocking
The criminal in his wooden cage,

And after the sea-crossing, bright sun,
And scudding wind on the island,
Heather and thrift bending on the slopes,
Larks rising from gorse, Atlantic storms
And calm, the kitchen garden
He must tend, with welcome greens
Harvested in any month, the slow,
Aged talk of the veterans of the guard—
He had never left this home.

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*

A reviewer

He owed no favours, and called
On none; he had no axe,
Political or religious, to swing:
He reviewed because he had the knack.

He could take a book, skim it,
And from any angle tell where
And how it failed the way—
This, without knowing the way.

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ABOUT THE POET

John Leonard was born in the UK and came to Australia in 1991. He has a PhD from the University of Queensland and was poetry editor of Overland from 2003 to 2007. He has four collections of poetry, the most recent being A Spell, A Charm (2014). His book The Way of Poetry (2010) considers poetry in the context of Daoism. www.jleonard.net

from Issue #4: Poetry by Joe Dolce

Photo (CC) Biodiversity Heritage Library @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Biodiversity Heritage Library @ Flickr

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Horsewitch

…………………….Fan I begood my craft they passed me neth the horse’s belly,
…………………….An’ ower his back, an’ tween his legs an’ oot aneth his taillie.
………………………………………………………………………………….William Christie

The first Horseman was said to have been Cain
Xenophon 300 BCE stressed operant conditioning for vicious
intractable behavior due to abuse or accidental trauma
horse whispering known simply as natural horsemanship
abused animals like abused children trust no one expect the worst
reassurance over punishment premise that teaching through pain and fear
does not result in best outcome rather patience leadership compassion firmness
The Society of the Horseman’s Word
eighteenth century Scottish secret society trade union
horse trainers blacksmiths ploughmen
magical rituals to provide abilities to control both horses and women
with a single Horseman’s Wird
horsemen with powers called Horsewitches
descended from pagan cults once persecuted in witch trials
the whisperers’ secret phrase of power: sic iubeo – ‘thus I command’
a Horsewitches’ two fetishes
the milt – fibrous matter from the tongue of a colt still
in its mare’s womb swallowed when born
old horsemen careful to extract it immediately after birth
the frog’s bone – fresh killed toad left on whitethorn bush
once hard and dry buried in anthills a month
until only skeleton tossed onto full moon running stream
little crotch bone separating itself floating
against the current this bone was kept
initiation rituals reading passages from the Bible backwards
oaths gestures passwords a handshake
stench of sulphur and alarming noises heralding
the arrival of the Devil
blindfolded initiates directed to shake His hand
grasped a cold wet hoof.

*

Dodo

Raphus cucullatus
common name simpleton
related to dodaars meaning fat-arse or knot-arse
flightless bird of Nazareth
weighing in at fifty pounds goose-big
legs and feet like turkey chicks
nine-inch swollen bill with hooked point
tuft of curly light feathers on rear end
first eaten in Mauritius by hungry Dutch sailors
who called it walghvogel wallow bird
loathsome bird due to taste
two-note pigeony doo-doo warble
faithful to one partner throughout life
ate fruit fish laid a single egg large as a penny bun
swallowed nutmeg-size stones for digestion
war-weapon was a fierce mouth bite but
rats pigs monkeys made short work of them
completely fearless of people gentle spirited
human-made extinct within 80 years of discovery
(although in 1678 extinction not believed
possible for religious reasons) took the Calveria tree
with it whose spread depended on seeded-feces
Lewis Carroll’s famous stammer
was represented by one in Alice
the writer often announcing himself
by his true name: Charles Lutwidge Do-do-dodgson!

*

Cordite Brisance

Sir James Dewar made the thermos flask
to aid him in his work with liquid gas
while looking for a gunpowder substitute
he came upon a combination he thought could do it
the Queen’s Knight Scot from Kincardine
mixed guncotton nitroglycerine and Vaseline
rather than a supersonic detonation
his stuff produced a subsonic deflagration
extruded in spaghetti-like rods and worms
smokeless cord powder packed and formed
around trigger mechanisms that keyed and armed
the Hiroshima Little Boy Bomb
but disputing a chemical patent impingement
Alfred Nobel sued Dewar for infringement
the House of Lords and Court of Appeals
judged against Sir James’ protests and squeals
vitriol name-calling bad blood and lies
was probably why: no Nobel Prize.

*

Don Diego’s Accordion

I quit childhood accordion lessons
due to a time conflict with Zorro
my favourite b & w tv show of the 50s
three slashes of sword
whishhht! whishhht! whishhht!
like the sign of the cross
cut a Z into many young hearts
I hung up the rapier and bullwhip
shortly after George W Bush was run
out of town on the back of El Toro
but occasionally don the black cape and mask
to help local townspeople
with corrupt politicians and greedy landowners
and for infrequent shopping mall appearances
Zorro Spanish for fox pronounced soro
credited with inspiration
by their respective creators
for The Lone Ranger and Batman
whereas the accordion inspired
the blind and the file
I think I made the right choice.

*

ABOUT THE POET

Joe Dolce was born in Painesville, Ohio, USA, in 1947. He moved to Australia in 1979, becoming a citizen in 2004. He is known for the most successful song in Australian music history, Shaddap You Face, Number One on the pop charts in fifteen countries and the record-holder for the largest selling single in Australian music history for 33 years. Over the past twenty years he has achieved award-winning recognition as songwriter, composer, poet and essayist.  He has set fifteen poems of C.P Cavafy to music and works by Sappho, Sylvia Plath, Les Murray, Ali Cobby Eckermann and others. He won the Launceston Poetry Cup, at the 25th Tasmanian Poetry Festival, in 2010. He has had poetry and essays published in Quadrant, Monthly, PEN (in English/Arabic translation), Meanjin, Etchings, Overland, Cordite, Journey, Carmenta, Vine Leaves, Australian Love Poems 2013, Eye of the Telescope (sci-fi) and Antipodes (USA). He lives in Carlton, Victoria.

from Issue #4: Poetry by Mikhail Yeryomin, translated by J. Kates

Photo (CC) Antti T. Nissinen

Photo (CC) Antti T. Nissinen

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J. Kates’ translations of Mikhail Yeryomin’s Selected Poems 1957-2009 was awarded the 2013 Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation and will be published this year by White Pine Press. Here, Mikhail Yeryomin’s original Russian appears in black and J. Kates’ English translations in blue.

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*

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Поселок (В сумерках туман подобен
Прасубстантиву: наблюдатель — « . . . пред
Святым Его Евангелием и животворящим
Крестом …» — становится свидетелем аблактировки
Инфинитива и супина.) сходство
С полузатопленным челном и средним членом
Сравненья мышц стрижа с пружиною зажима,
Забытого на бельевой веревке, обретает.

……………………………………………………………………1977

-

A settlement (In twilight a fog similar
To the protosubstantive: the observer — “before
His Holy Gospel and life-giving
Cross . . .” becomes a witness of the ablactation
Of the infinitive and the supine.) is a simulacrum
of a kindled canoe and the middling member
of the comparison of a martin’s muscles with an elastic clamp,
forgotten on a linen rope, found.

…………………………………………………………………….1977

 

*

 

Повилика, прильнувшая к стеблю,
Бледный витень, чье тело длиной с его жизнь —
Дериват ли от vita? Гаплоия
Композиты из vita  и тень?
Или плеть? Аксельбант родовитого льна
Или ядопровод? Или тирса лоза? Или —
« . . . The laws impressed on matter by the Creator . . .»
Селекционерская гордость Мойр?

………………………………………………………………..1977

Гаплогия — гаплология.
Ch. Darwin, M. A. The Origin of Species.  “Recapitulation and conclusion.”

-

A dodder clinging tightly to its stem,
Pallid viten, a body long as its life —
Does it derive from vita? Haplogy
Compounded from vita and tenebræ?
Or a lash? An aiguilette of aristocratic flax
Or a poison duct? Or a vine of thyrsus? Or —
. . . the laws impressed on matter by the Creator…”
The selectionist pride of the three Fates?

………………………………………………………………….1977

Haplogy = haplology
Ch. Darwin, M. A. The Origin of Species.  “Recapitulation and conclusion.”

.

*

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Сомкнула веки. Не вступать, а погружаться
В сокрытый ими сад. Деревья —
Еще не алфавит, уже не древние аллеи текста.
Любовь — еще вторая изгородь. Движенье —
Уже не ноша, но еще не ниша.

Не словом открывают губы
Лучистый взгляд жемчужин
Над моим лицом.

…………………………………………………….1978

-

She closed her eyelids. Not to step into, but be plunged
Into a garden hidden beneath them. The trees
Not yet alphabet, now no longer ancient alleys of text.
Love is still a second hedge. Movement
No longer burdensome, but even less a burrow.

Lips do not discover with a word
The radiant appearance of pearls
Over my face.

………………………………………………………1978

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*

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Пир августа. Азычество лампасов и лампад.
Ватрушка — в каждом угольке готовый вспыхнуть
Зеленым пламенем творожный язычок —
Подсолнуха. Стручок гороха скалит зубы,
Расколотый, изогнутый древнейшей шуткой
Равновеликости на взглял с земли
Луны и соднца. Платье юной горожанки —
Поблекший крапп, полегший лен.

…………………………………………………………..1979

-

Feast of August. Aborigin of trouser-stripes and icon-lamps.
Cheesecake — in each corner ready to flare up
A little cottage-cheese tongue like a green flicker —
Sunflowers. A peapod bares its teeth,
Disruptive, twisted like an ancient joke
Equivalence in looking from the earth
Moon and sun. The dress of a young townswoman —
Withering madder, flattened flax.

……………………………………………………………1979

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*

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Следить бег низких облаков
И пресмыкание далекой электрички. Pópulus Vulgaris
Толпой (Избранничество — не искус ли?)
И вдоль дорог выстраивается. Прониккнуть
Ленотром или (Оттиск аватары
На глине или благодать?) Алкидом —
Одна двенадцатая дюжины побед —
В усадьбу Гесперид?

……………………………………………………………1985

Ленотр — Версальский парк, Фоненбло и т. д.

-

To follow the races of low clouds
And the reptilian crawl of a distant  train. Pópulus Vulgaris
En masse (Isn’t a referendum a temptation?)
And alongside, the construction of roads. To penetrate
By means of Le Nôtre or (The Impression of an avatar
In clay, or a blessing?) with Alcides —
One twelfth of a dozen victories —
In the Garden of the Hesperides?

…………………………………………………………….1985

Le Nôtre — The park at Versailles, Fontainebleau, etc.

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*

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Оставив девочек в декокте мелководья, девой
Явиться из ребра вольны.
Бесследно отмель миновав, на берег
Взойти — разводистые лунки
По ситцу. Грудь и бедра
(У кончика ноги цветущий подорожник.)
Оправить вязкой сетью.
И множиться в зрачках и на устах.

………………………………………………………………………1987

-

Girls left in a decoction of shallows, a virgin
Emerges from the edge of a wave.
Without leaving a trace in the sand, to climb up
On the berm — discolored openings
In the chintz. Breast and thigh
(A plantain flowering at the stem of her leg,)
Set right in an intractable net.
Burgeoning deep in the eyes and on the lips.

……………………………………………………………………….1987

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*

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Владеть устами — навык или дар,
Когда молчание билабиальней речи? Окольцовывать
(Orbicularis oris) или отвергать.
А гений, ставший на крыло
(Лазоревые кроющие перья, маховые —
Пребелые.), не зависает ли,
Быв удостоен невесомым «Ах!» меж алых семядолей,
Их разомкунувшим?

……………………………………….1992

-

Is it skill or a gift to govern the lips
When silence is more bilabial than speech? To band
(Orbicularis oris) or to turn away.
And genius, on the wing
(Sky-blue covering feathers beating
Blindingly white.) hovering, yes?
With an earned, weightless “Ah!” among scarlet cotyledons
It had dispersed?

………………………………………1992

*

ABOUT THE POET AND TRANSLATOR

Mikhail Fyodorovich Yeryomin, born in 1936, is a poet, playwright and a translator, who saw few of his poems published in his homeland during the Soviet period. Instead, his work — consistently in eight-line stanzas rich with allusive scientific and linguistic byplay — appeared in émigré journals like Kontinent and Ekho. The first volume of his poems (in Russian) was published in the United States in 1986, and then in 1991 in Moscow. Each book is a cumulative addition to and a selection from previous work, and each carries the same title: Stikhotvorenia (Poems). In English translation, his poems have appeared in Fjords ReviewThe Hawai’i ReviewNaked PunchParthenon WestStandTwo Lines, and in the anthology In the Grip of Strange Thoughts. J. Kates’ translations of Yeryomin’s selected poems won the Cliff Becker Book Prize this year and will be published by White Pine Press in 2014. The poet lives in St. Petersburg.

J. Kates a poet and literary translator who lives in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire.

from Issue #4: Poetry by Hong Ying 虹影 translated by Mabel Lee 陈顺妍

Photo (CC) Laiwan Ng @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Laiwan Ng @ Flickr

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Home of darkness  /  黑暗的家

I see low stairs
Stretch out under his feet….a brain planning travel
And skeletons poking out everywhere
Thinking to regret is easier than not making a mistake
He takes out a piece of paper

A piece of very crumpled paper
He of course has passed through many cities
Stirred the hearts of many women
….I hear steamboats on the Yangtze

Blasts of whistles fill the air…..rejecting the deceit
Or maybe colluding with him to end
This part of history

Being faithful is harder than loving…..what I have to say
Must cut through the misty Yangtze
Until after these trees turn to red

I am an artist in depravity
And have not known good luck for a long time
Ultimately he will engrave my face with his dagger

Before swallowing the piece of paper…..moreover—

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*

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Plan to write someone’s biography  /  准备为一个人写传

Didn’t think he was this ready to act. Had I known
I wouldn’t be standing in the rain clutching an umbrella
The rain is heavy, because he is coming towards me
His face shrouded in a special

Calm. If the rain stops now
I’ll lower my head
Crouch down, and let the bottom of his coat
Brush the top of my head. The roses he is holding
Will instantly transform into scattered islands

I’m certain once he’s in the white car
It will cross the warning line
And like a tongue, wrap around the corner light post
Swallowing it. He will make me lose my umbrella
Lose my scarf, and shiver with excitement    it’s true, it’s true

He’s just a bit braver than me in going ahead. The white car
And all around it is heavy with blood
Making all the lines of my palms jump wildly. He and I
What went wrong? This is just the incomplete first chapter

.

*

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Dreaming of Beijing  /  梦北京

It is all rotting cabbages
That can drown every one of my dreams
A hedgehog carefully makes its way across
The vanishing city wall
And sees us sisters hugging and weeping

Our lungs
Are always wrapping around men’s lies and sex organs
I turn
Confront my mother to her face
She walks away alone
We sisters will open our beautiful mouths before we die
And spit out one man after another

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*

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Train / 火车

I have raised my head from the sea more than once to watch how the train runs
over my body
At night in dream, it continues to rumble along
Taking away people I know
But thinking about it now, why are they unfamiliar?
I am submerged in the sea
A sea deeper than a city that vanished long ago
But a fish prefers being here
She says in February, the wind whinnies like a horse
She says in May, the horse is like brocade cushions and silk
But none is hers

The passengers wearing masks that are modern and trendy
Mix with festival revellers, taking away my suffering
But not leaving me any joy
I am alone in the sea
Sinking, persist in sinking
I hear fish whisper: go ashore, why worry about being caught
I suddenly remember, I’ve been dead for many years
And my skull has gradually turned blue

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*

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The black and white of eyes  /  眼睛的黑白

A chastity belt the crowd hangs on a tree…..adds weight to it
Light as a bundle of nerves, it is heavy like a demon staff
Under the tree I repeat a dance step, then a look of the eye
You and I unluckily entered an episode of a novel
Flowing water never fouls, and green mountains stay green
That’s one way of putting it
Another way of putting it is
Good or evil in our hearts is linked to the food we eat
And not the equivalent of our memories

I sent the cat to look for any trace of you
But there was no news all summer
When the cat’s paws were etched with your name
It said, no, no
Her eyes brimming with tears
Also one summer, I wrote in a book what the cat had said
Who wins or loses? Like a stinking fish
A cruel white, colonizes the eyes of those in the crowd
I lost because I buried myself under the tree

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*

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I am also called Salammbo  /  我也叫萨朗波

Nobody remembers me, but it doesn’t matter
No sign of the carriage that left long ago
And the whiplashes also stopped hurting long ago
Loving someone
Turns into a dream
A greater void than having no dreams

I am dead
And know nothing
Beauty ends like that, and the times end like that
On the sea today no birds can be seen
Give me a glass of red wine
And give me an apple
Salammbo is just a name

None of you is good-hearted
You look at clouds, forgetting how to look at them
How geometric shapes fold
How a person is made to vanish
I remember him coming to me
And saying, look at my eyes

They were full of lust, full of sad songs
He closed his eyes
And they were icy cold
But when my lips touched them they burned like fire
Yes indeed, now he is a good person

.

*

ABOUT THE POET AND TRANSLATOR

Hong Ying 虹影 (b. 1962 Chongqing, China) began her writing career as a poet during the early 1980s in China. After relocating to London in 1990 she continued to publish poetry as well as short-story collections and novels in rapid succession. To date she has written twelve novels in Chinese, some of which have been published in many languages and made into TV series or films. She is best known in the English-speaking world for her novels Summer of Betrayal, Daughter of the River and K: The Art of Love. Her autobiographical novel Daughter of the River has been translated into thirty languages, and K: The Art of Love won the Premio Letterario Rome award in 2005. Her four poetry collections include Quick, Run Eclipse (1999) and I am also called Salammbo (2013). Hong Ying now lives in Beijing and Italy.

Mabel Lee 陈顺 PhD FAHA (b. 1939, Warialda NSW, Australia) is adjunct professor at the University of Sydney, after serving on the academic staff for 34 years. From the early 1980s until 2000, she was assistant editor of the Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia (JOSA) and co-editor of the University of Sydney East Asian Series. Her translations include three titles by Yang Lian, winner of the Flaiano International Poetry Prize in 1999: Masks and Crocodile (1990), The Dead in Exile (1990) and Yi (2002); and five titles by 2000 Nobel Laureate Gao Xingjian: Soul Mountain (2000), One Man’s Bible (2002), Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather (2004), The Case for Literature (2006) and Aesthetics and Creation (2012). She began publishing translations of Hong Ying’s poetry in 1999, and thirty new poems will be included in Hong Ying, Zhai Yongming and Yang Lian (forthcoming 2013).

from Issue #4: Poetry by Rogelio Guedea, translated by Megan Saltzman

Photo (CC) Dennis Jarvis @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Dennis Jarvis @ Flickr

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The original Spanish version of each poem appears first, followed by its translation in blue.

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Celebración de la garza

La poesía no sirve para salvarte. Para salvar a nadie.
La poesía no sirve para cruzar un río,
para enredar una magnolia en una oreja no sirve.
Tampoco sirve para subir a un autobús sin pagar.
Para entrar en el cine por el ojo de la alcantarilla no sirve para eso la poesía.
Tampoco sirve
para levantar un muro que detenga el mar.
No sirve de asiento en los trenes, de almohada en los aviones altos,
la poesía tampoco sirve para enamorar a la niña del apartamento contigo,
si crees que sirve para eso estás equivocado.
No sirve para eso, loco.
La poesía no es un analgésico para que puedas dormir.
No sirve para quitarte el insomnio, antes te da más, antes te aprieta
las mandíbulas.
Tampoco sirve para salvarte de la multa policial. Ni siquiera del anuncio
diciendo ocupado en un baño público.
La poesía sólo se salva a sí misma. No a ti, no a tu abuelita,
ella misma es la salvadora de su propia voluntad.
Se escribe para salvarse, te utiliza como a un guante viejo para salvarse,
va ocupando tu cuerpo, tus manos, tus ojos, tu nariz.
Va ocupándote hasta que te hace desaparecer.
Un día te preguntas y ya no estás, la casa desmantelada,
las ventanas cerradas.
Un letrero que dice: Se vende. Para mayores informes.

-

Celebration of the Heron 

Poetry is not for saving yourself. Not for saving anybody.
Poetry is not for crossing a river,
not for tangling a magnolia in an ear.
Nor is it for riding a bus without paying.
To enter the cinema through the manhole, poetry is not for that either. 
Nor is it for
raising a wall to hold back the sea.
It’s no good as a train seat, as a pillow on high-altitude airplanes,
poetry is not for making the girl in the apartment next door fall in love with you,
if you think that’s what it’s for, you’re mistaken.
It is not for that, stupid.
Poetry is not a painkiller to help you sleep.
It won’t take away your insomnia, instead it would make it worse, it would
tighten your jaw.
Nor will it save you from a police fine.  Not even from the sign
that reads busy in a public bathroom.
Poetry only saves itself.  Not you, or your grandma,
it is the saviour of its own free will.
It writes itself to save itself, it uses you like an old glove to save itself, it starts
occupying your body, your hands, your eyes, your nose.
Occupying you until it makes you disappear.
One day you wonder and you’re not there, the house dismantled,
the windows closed.
A sign that says: For sale. Inquire for more information.

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*

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Reminder

Una mujer no se hace con la sombra de la primavera,
tampoco se hace una mujer como tu hombro con un trozo de la noche
que olvidaste.
Ni con el alero de una casa de campo, tampoco
con la mano que lleva puesto un guante.
Una mujer como tu cuerpo que nace no se hace cinco minutos
antes de salir al trabajo. En medio del desayuno: no.
Ni durante el almuerzo con los colegas tampoco.
Una mujer es otra cosa distinta a una espalda recargada contra un árbol.
Es una garza distinta.
Y no se hace escribiéndola día a día, o borrándola noche a noche,
ni siquiera pensándola se hace,
no es una fecha en que debamos encontrarnos
ni un pañuelo blanco largo para despedirse.
Una mujer es siempre otra cosa,
más allá de lagos o edificios está,
no le aseguran la vida un seguro de vida o una cuenta bancaria,
una jubilación o una casa en renta,
nadie podría intimidarla con una navaja de rasurar
o enternecerla con un ramo de rosas blancas.
Una mujer no existe porque tú existes,
no se hace con lo que eres o no eres,
no te pertenece.
Una mujer es simplemente un hombre de buenos modales,
lo quieras o no, y siempre te permitirá caer, a ti primero,
en el siguiente abismo.

-

Reminder

A woman doesn’t become with the shadow of spring,
nor does she become a woman like your shoulder with a chunk of the night
that you forgot.
Nor with the eaves of a country house, nor
with the hand that wears a glove.
A woman like your body that’s being born doesn’t become five minutes
before leaving for work.  In the middle of breakfast: no.
Not during lunch with her colleagues either.
A woman is something different than a back leaning against a tree.
She is a different heron.
And she doesn’t become by writing about her day by day, or deleting her night by night,
not even thinking about her does she become,
she is not a date when we should meet
nor a white handkerchief for waving goodbye.
A woman is always something else,
she is beyond the lakes or buildings,
life insurance or a bank account cannot assure her life,
retirement or a rental home,
no one could intimidate her with a cut-throat razor
or soften her with a bouquet of white roses.
A woman does not exist because you exist,
she doesn’t transform with what you are or are not,
she doesn’t belong to you.
A woman is simply a man with good manners,
whether you want it or not, and she’ll always allow you to fall, you first,
into the next abyss.

.

 *

cerezas

para traer su testimonio, trayéndolo como arrastrado
……lago sin su mirlo,
…………………………….y vuelto a nacer crecido en pie con su fulgor,
su mano, su quijada, su pájaro cerrado,
……………………………………………………..otro palito su cuchara lejos
far away pero silente astro que no ves, pie girando alrededor
………del astro,
……………………..todo arco para empezar del uno al dos del dos
al casi,
…………juntura de su aroma, remedando al riachuelo de la virgen santa
del pueblo de José,
………………………….que se la comía (a mordiscones): Suchitlán, 1996.
un estanque,
…………………una piedra ciega de su traslación,
……………………………………………………………..una palabra que es y otra
que habita su silencio, junto, agazapadamente/
y entonces
…………………(New Zealand, 2006)
……………………………………………comenzar su ligazón: país, mujer,
trenes puentes vías (sic)
…………………………………y una ventana: asomándose para medir la distancia
del aire de su pie a su pie,
…………………………………..del vuelo de su ojo a su ojo,
de su mano que escribe pie y ojo a su mano que calla reclinada contra
…………el viento,
su dama:
……………….su vieja estación sin profecías,
………………………………………………………………again.

-

cherries

in order to bring his testimony, dragging it through
…….a lake without its blackbird,
…………………………………..and again born already grown standing up with its glow,
his hand, his jawbone, his closed bird,
………………………………………………………….another handle its spoon far away
lejos but noiseless star that you don’t see, foot spinning around
…………the star,
……………………….all arch in order to start from the one to the two from the two
to almost,
…………..junction of its smell, imitating the stream of the holy virgin
from the town of José,
………………………………..who used to eat it up (big bites): Suchitlán, 1996.
a creek,
………………..a rock blind from its movement,
………………………………………………………………..a word that is and another
that lives its silence, together, crouched down/
and then
……………………..(New Zealand, 2006)
…………………………………………………..to begin his bond: country, woman,
trains bridges routes (sic)
………………………………….and a window: looking out to measure the distance
of the air from his foot to his foot,
………………………………………………….of the flight from his eye to his eye,
of his hand that writes foot and eye to his hand that hushes leaning against
…………..the wind,
his lady:
………………………his old station without prophecies,
………………………………………………………………………………otra vez.

.

 *

.

enclaves

buscando sus partes del otro lado de la acera:
………….su mano,
………………………..la calle de su pie,
………………………………………………..un ojo mirándole llorar
en lo distante
………………………..(yendo aquí, viniendo allá):
……………………………………………………………………..y luego, en la esquina
exacta,
………….el hombro asido a su ramaje, su círculo de mares infinitos,
…………………..su caracol arriba
………………………………………….y desde abajo:
recuperando árboles y muros, relojes o cornisas, un barco
que pasaba llevándolo,
………………………………traído hacia su garza/

con un anzuelo en los límites del agua, río sin equipaje ni versos
……….de don jorge
………………………….(todos los ríos van a dar…),
…………………………………………………………………y una ola cae,
cayendo otra ensenada//

……………………atado a sus abismos (un abismo puede ser también
la suma de dos casas)
……………………………..y a su sombra (una sombra sin pijama ni martillo),
recorriendo los pasillos de la memoria,
…………………………………………………………….su ruta incierta,
un día y más allá,
……………………….hasta llegar (su mano) a mi país,
para decir –de nuevo, otra vez-:
………………………………………….padre,
……………………………………………………..estos huecos que dejaste.

-

enclaves

searching for his parts from the other side of the sidewalk:
………….his hand,
………………………..his foot’s street,
………………………………………………..an eye watching him cry
in the distance
……………………….(going here, coming there):
………………………………………………………………….and then, on the corner
exact,
…………….the man clutching his branches, his circle of infinite seas,
………………………..his shell above
………………………………………………….and from below:
recovering tress and walls, watches and cornices, a boat
that was passing by carrying it,
………………………………………..brought towards its heron/

with a fishhook in the water’s limits, river without luggage or
………….don jorge’s verses
……………………………………..(all the rivers are going to end up…)
…………………………………………………………………………………………..and a wave falls,
falling another inlet//

………………………tied to its abysses (an abyss can also be
the sum of two houses)
………………………………….and to its shadow (a shadow without pajamas or hammer),
retracing the corridors of memory,
…………………………………………………………his uncertain path,
one day and beyond,
…………………………………..until (his hand) arrives at my country,
in order to say –again, anew-:
………………………………………father,
………………………………………………………these holes you left.

.

***

ABOUT THE POET AND THE TRANSLATOR

Rogelio Guedea (Mexico, 1974) is a poet, essayist, novelist and translator. He is the author of forty books of poetry, essays, narrative, interviews and translations. Some of his recent books are: Mine fields (Aldus, 2013), Life in the rear window and other portable stories (Lectorum, 2012), Wristwatch: a chronicle of the Mexican poetry (19th and 20th Century) (UNAM, 2011) and The crime of Los Tepames (Random House Mondadori, 2013), a bestseller in Mexico. He is editing a critical history of 19th and 20th Century Mexican poetry, which will bring together 40 international scholars and will be published by Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes and the Fondo de Cultura Económica. He is a columnist for the Mexican newspapers El Financiero and La Jornada Semanal and currently the coordinator of the Spanish Programme at the University of Otago.

Since 2012, Megan Saltzman has taught and conducted research on Spanish language, culture and urban studies at West Chester University, near Philadelphia. Her main interest lies in how we—through our urban milieu—construct ideas regarding social identity, history and political potential. She is currently working on a book that focuses on contemporary Barcelona titled Public Everyday Space. She has published articles on urban nostalgia, alternative spaces of resistance in the city, and most recently on urban immigration and globalization in Spanish documentaries. Before moving to West Chester, Megan spent nine years teaching and researching in a variety of different places—Dunedin, New Zealand; Barcelona, Spain; Grinnell, Iowa; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Tokyo, Japan. She enjoys photography, textiles, languages, and wandering around cities. courses.wcupa.edu/MSaltzman/

from Issue #4: Poetry by David Howard

Photo (CC) takomabibelot @ Flickr

Photo (CC) takomabibelot @ Flickr

.

 *

.

And Her

The morning did what mornings do, left us
alone – although ‘us’ implies some consolation
from gossip, hugs, love of the common. But no

each perception is private, essential, isolating
like a poem, I thought, walking towards
the courtyard. Already I saw the scaffold.

 

 *

 

Safety

Between, that is where the poem grows…
A negotiator playing both sides:

the visible, the invisible.

Only the invisible owns every thing.
We measure the seen. The invisible, then.

And that spider.

 

  *

 

Look

After you said everything there was more.
Your sentence was not long enough.
The thing a word touches becomes less
tangible, nowhere near the world you know.

As if it was going to fit inside your head.
As if the lake and the lake’s reflections
included you. Everything said meant nothing
once the duck steadied itself and landed

leaving this sentence on the surface.

 

*

 

The role of the model

Touch your shadow and you
touch your self.

On your fingers mica, under each nail
the thread of a sail, the memory

there is a horizon
for every wind. As God is your witness

one among many. Break
bread as if you were declaring war

that shadow you move for
bitter as a blood-blister upon the lip

and hard, so hard.

.

***

ABOUT THE POET

David Howard spent thirty-five years compiling one book: The Incomplete Poems (Cold Hub Press, 2011). He is a winner of the Gordon & Gotch Poetry Award, the New Zealand Poetry Society Competition, the New Zealand Society of Authors Mid-Career Writers Award, and the University of South Pacific Press Poetry Prize. David held the Robert Burns Fellowship 2013 at Otago University.

Chris Andrew’s ‘Roberto Bolaño’s Fiction: An Expanding Universe’

roberto-bolano-s-fiction

Eminent poet, translator, and Contrappasso contributor Chris Andrews has just published a critical study of the great Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003). Andrews has translated numerous books by Bolaño and other Latin American authors.

Roberto Bolaño’s Fiction: An Expanding Universe is available from Columbia University Press in hardcover and ebook formats. You can read the introductory chapter HERE.

Mimi Lipson’s new book: The Cloud of Unknowing

mimilipson_cloud

Contrappasso contributor Mimi Lipson has just published a new book of stories – her first. It’s called The Cloud of Unknowing and comes via our friends at Yeti Publishing.

We were delighted to publish two of these stories in early issues of our journal: The Smockey Bar and Safe, Reliable, Courteous.

Here’s the publisher’s blurb:

Funny, tough, and heartbreaking — often all at once — Mimi Lipson’s debut collection is a grand tour of bars, diners, bus stations, dog parks, hardcore clubs, vacant lots, and other places that draw people whose inner lives are richer than their wallets. Lipson’s alter ego, the sharp-tongued and sharp-eyed Kitty, appears in a variety of guises: as a seven-year-old on a Florida vacation scammed by her roguish father, as a college student who receives a stunningly crucial education outside the classroom, as a passenger whose life changes on a cross-country bus. After meeting her parents, her brother, her friends and coworkers, we are introduced to Isaac, the sui generis man-child who becomes both her lover and her charge, a human roller-coaster who swings her between delight, exasperation, and mortal peril. Like a dinner composed of appetizers, Lipson’s book is very nearly a novel, in mosaic form, without all the boring parts. Her wit is as sharp as a serpent’s tooth, her sentences as percussively satisfying as billiard balls clicking into the pocket.

You can buy the book in paperback or kindle formats. You should!

Stet! Theodore Ell speaks at Gleebooks

gleebooks05

On Tuesday 27 May, Contrappasso’s poetry editor Theodore Ell took part in a panel discussion on new Australian literary journals, at independent bookseller Gleebooks in Sydney. Also on the panel were editors from new Australian writers’ launchpad Seizure, formal poetry journal New Trad and journal of sexual diversity Archer. As well as comparing notes on the labour (and love!) involved in starting and sustaining a journal, the panellists took questions from the audience and played ‘Would you rather…’ – which revealed that most editors would prefer one outrageous error on the cover of their journal to one on every page inside. An important question that each of the panellists addressed was how their journals defined their roles in the Australian publishing industry, which has been changing rapidly, unpredictably and not always for the better. How do you know who and where your audience is? How do you do the same job as publishers who have more resources than you, but aren’t concerned with the material you want to expose? Here is how Theo approached these and similar questions.

*

‘The industry.’ I’ve always been unsure about that word. It adds too many illusions of glamour and careful planning to work that is usually messy. It also creates the idea of a club that you need permission to join. Two guys preparing a journal issue in an Ashfield living-room, with Bob Dylan on the turntable, last week’s coffee cups stacked dangerously in the kitchen, and utility bills buried deep under sheets and sheets of proofs – does that count for the industry?

It depends what kind of industry you mean. Industry can mean work, effort, dedication, passion, or it can mean business, money, trade, profit. The trouble with publishing is that these meanings get confused, and the business meaning of ‘industry’ starts to eat away at the other meaning. The industry-as-business is so huge and so involved with itself that to a new writer it can seem overwhelmingly daunting. Incredibly hard work goes into writing, but then the writer is faced with the even harder job of selling the book’s way into print. In the culture of spin and hype, there is often little evidence that the material itself will matter. With journals it’s different. Journals are closer to the realities that writers face: they deal with more writers more often, and offer more space for more kinds of writing. As the first testing-grounds for new writers and editors, journals also offer essential experience in learning how to get on with each other, how to listen, how to be patient, how to negotiate artistic habits and effects.

I think what we are talking about here tonight, and what we’re calling by the name ‘industry’, is really a third thing: community. All of the journals we represent, and many others you will find on the shelves, were created in recent years because there was a feeling that the business-meaning of industry was eclipsing its other meaning, the effort-meaning. There was a sad run of journals closing: Australian Literary Review, HEAT, Wet Ink. Australia seems to be a remarkably hard place for writers to have their work published and introduced to a readership, but with the loss of these outlets, it was getting even harder. There was a real sense of dismay, but the reactions that followed revealed a great deal else about ‘the industry’ that I think should give us cause for optimism. That dismay, that outcry, was so widely shared, in such similar ways by all kinds of people, that it proved something very important, and very inspiring. It proved how big the audience is for new writing and how prepared that audience is to seek out its forums. The situation now is, I think, far more positive and encouraging than anything we could have imagined only a few years ago. We lost three publications, but on the strength of people’s objections and new efforts, we have gained dozens. Aside from the four here tonight – Seizure, New Trad, Archer and Contrappasso – there are The Lifted Brow, Ampersand, Cuttings, The Saturday Paper and Verity La, to name only a few. In every city in every state, whatever you are looking for, you will find it.

When we founded Contrappasso, it was out of just this mixed feeling of objection and hopefulness. The name is weird, I know, but that is half the point with a title. You hope that it will sound different and make a reader curious, and over time it grows to mean something. But Contrappasso does have a specific meaning: it means counter-punch or counter-step in Italian, and it is the word for the ironic punishments in Dante’s hell and purgatory, the equal and opposite punishments that fit the crime. In 2011 when we decided to do it, the ‘equal and opposite’ reversal in the trend of journals closing was well underway. A number of the other journals I just mentioned already existed. But we wanted to challenge rhetoric as well as trends.

Opening a journal seemed like the exact opposite of what a sane, business-minded person would do – which was fine, because we weren’t. Questions of money and profit were exactly what were causing stress for journals and writing at the time, and the idea of publishing and promoting good writing for its own sake, thanks to the good will of the writers involved, seemed a fitting slap back to an assumption that people only properly value what they pay for. (Now, the journal has grown to the point that we do offer payment, a little, for all that we print; one day we hope finally to pay those writers who donated their work to the first couple of issues.) We wanted to test another ‘industry’ assumption as well, which is what exactly constitutes ‘new writing.’ ‘Previously unpublished,’ yes; the only things we publish that have appeared before are the works in translation, but while they have appeared in their original language, they have not in English. Most writers we have published so far would be called ‘emerging writers’. But ‘new writing’ isn’t restricted to ‘emerging writers’ – established writers are constantly producing new work too, and many go through the same struggle to find outlets for it. Our approach was to open the journal to writers at any stage of their careers and to place their works on an even footing. This creates dialogue and exchanges, on and off the page. But what loomed largest in our minds was the fact that our industry – the community of writers and readers in Australia – felt rather isolated from its counterparts elsewhere in the world, and that it tended to filter out the sound and experience of languages other than English. Writers from elsewhere appear in many Australian journals from time to time, of course, but there did not seem to be one with a consistently international outlook, or an interest in projecting itself overseas. With all the opportunities that the internet offers for this kind of contact, it seemed right at least to try and create a magazine that, while based here and ready to consider Australian work of any kind, was nominally borderless and open to considering new writing by anyone, from anywhere. Wherever possible, English translations would appear opposite the original language. In our five issues to date, we have published writers from twelve countries in five languages (English, Chinese, Spanish, Italian and Russian, with French to come in our next issue). We did not know if the experiment would work and nobody could be more surprised than us by the way in which it has. The unlikely turned out to be quite possible.

In part this has had to do with new publishing methods. The saddest phrase in the book trade is “Out of print.” An author’s effort, a publisher’s faith, a reader’s interest, a bookshop’s sale, who knows what potential social results – all these are defeated when the book itself is made unavailable. Out of print, out of mind. Sometimes a writer or their estate revokes publishing rights, but the saddest thing is that the permission for a book to go out of print is an integral part of the publisher’s own production line. To print and store books in warehouses costs money, and where a book is judged not to be selling enough, not to be earning its keep, it is cut from the list, not printed any more, and often the remaining copies are pulped – to make room for another book, which will run the same risk. For decades the production line has had this in-built loop for disposing of its own products. Careful management of waste and risk, you might think, but the decisions of what to allow to go out of print have often been dismaying. To name only two examples, Patrick White was out of print for most of the 1990s and early 2000s, while Patrick Leigh Fermor’s European journey trilogy has only just come back in. Poetry collections, if they are lucky, often go through only a couple of print-runs before being left aside. So often it is the writing that offers unusual and perspective-altering rewards that suffers most. It does not sustain enough sales to survive macro-economic rationalism. Except that for some years now there has been an alternative, which more and more publishers are taking up: print-on-demand. Books are stored as digital files – cover, text and all – and printed in response to specific orders. The costs of storage and large print-runs are greatly reduced and most importantly the work is available for interested readers. As a production model, it is ideally suited to new, small, start-up publishers who want to make work available but who only have a low budget. It becomes possible to order a first ‘bulk’ print run of a title – say, fifty copies – to sell and spread the word, then to keep that title on a permanent digital back-burner, ready for anyone coming later who would like to read it. It is a way of “hastening slowly” in growing a small publishing business. Your product can always be produced, you avoid the risk of getting too big too quickly, of having too much stock and overreaching yourself financially. You can get into this for the long haul. And that is what at Contrappasso we hope to do.

Contrappasso Ebooks! 99 cents! Get ‘em here!

Many readers picked up handsome print copies of our December 2013 double-header: issue #4 and the special Contrappasso Noir Issue. Now both issues are available for purchase as ebooks in multiple formats – Kindle at Amazon.com, and EPUB, MOBI, PDF, etc., at Smashwords.com.

And for a limited time we are running a special ebook promotion. We are selling all five issues of Contrappasso for the staggeringly reasonable price of US$0.99 each. Yep. Ninety-nine cents.

So if you’ve been curious about Contrappasso, the exciting new journal of international writing, there’s never been a better time to grab an issue – or all five.