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.
Photo (CC) Takver @ Flickr
Spring: the litter traps in the river are full.
Sleeping streets given over to blackbird song.
It helps them to mate but why should I like it?
Perhaps because they will go on regardless
like Salvador Allende’s German Shepherd
suckling her litter on a couch and no doubt
defending it too, from soldiers and neighbours,
in the looted presidential residence,
while the tranquil metal of her master’s voice
began its historic voyage. September:
a scent of pittosporum drifts. September:
a pied butcher bird reinventing the song
much admired in European theatres,
transcending its hatred of kookaburras
and the ugly but sensible shrike habit
of impaling, perfectly indifferent to
the wild evolution of human music,
which media empires can only pursue
and exploit, as devoid of initiative
as the armed forces in a world far away
at the end of wide, poplar-lined avenues.
Was it eupepsia? I wasn’t thinking:
Why does everything have to be such a rush.
Or the mottled weather? I wasn’t even
wondering how indignant to be about what
when the media and self-interest provide
reasons to keep me indignant all the time.
Walking to the station, I had a vague sense
of what it might mean to feel real affection
for the things — the patterns of energy-stuff —
in the world, and, being one such or many
myself, to adjust them here and there in right
but unnecessary ways. The shadow-pools
in the street seemed continuous with a night
like a party spilling from a mansion split
into flats along a canal, an open-
ended night full of divergent adventures,
novelty lamps, doors ajar, strange languages
and splashes. Then a vaguely familiar guy
with his elbows out came up to me and said
“Usually I think, Life will sort you out, mate,
but this time it looks like life has to be me.”
The End (I)
As the credits rolled minor conflicts arose
between those who wanted to leave straight away
and those who wanted to return gradually
from fiction. Some were already sharpening
inappellable sentences while others
were embarrassed or grateful to discover
that aging had given them readier tears.
The world was waiting outside with its weather
(local thunderstorms), its news (a gold rush hour
on the stock exchange), its extras streaming past,
each a turbulent world of thought and feeling,
its livid blue neon lettering against
a pink bench of cloud rifting how far away?
The projectionist emerged from his cabin.
He knew there would be no safe way to confirm
his wild guesses at the content streaming through
the mind of a freshly employed usherette
who could have gone home already but remained
sponging Monstera deliciosa leaves
to a deeper green gloss in the dim foyer
of a memory cinema lost in the rain.
ABOUT THE POET
Chris Andrews teaches at the University of Western Sydney. His second book of poems, Lime Green Chair, was published by Waywiser in 2012. He has translated books of fiction by Latin American writers, including César Aira’s Varamo (Giramondo, 2012) and Roberto Bolaño’s By Night in Chile (New Directions, 2003).