Juan Gelman Interviewed in El Pais

El Pais has an interview with Juan Gelman, the Argentine poet. The occasion of the interview is the 1300 page collection of all his poems. While you can’t read that book in English, you can read the brand new collection of his poems from Open Letter. I received my copy in the mail yesterday. He sounds interesting in that he makes up his own words. I would have liked to seen the Spanish included in the book, too.

P. Muchas veces usted descoyunta la gramática y convierte en verbo un sustantivo. De mundo crea mundar, por ejemplo. ¿El lenguaje se le queda pequeño?

R. En el fondo, de Cervantes a la fecha, siempre se ha dicho eso. Cervantes se inventa neologismos y defiende la necesidad de reinventar la lengua. En mi caso es un intento de pasar los límites.

P. ¿Y qué dicen sus traductores?

R. [Se ríe] Creo que he logrado que salgan de su lógica. He tenido la suerte de tener excelentes traductores. Rompen sus propias lenguas para hacer el intento, aunque no siempre es posible.

P. Hay quien dice que poesía es justo lo que se pierde en la traducción de poesía. ¿Está de acuerdo?

R. Depende del traductor, y cada lengua tiene su lógica. Bien decía Pavese que para hacer una buena traducción de una lengua a otra no basta con conocer las dos: hay que conocer las dos culturas… Yo creo que traducir poesía es más difícil que escribirla. Yo mismo empecé traduciendo y me fue mal.

Chilean Poet Nicanor Parra Wins the Cervantes Prize

Chilean poet Nicanor Parra won the Cervantes Prize. El Pais has a write up.

El poeta chileno Nicanor Parra, de 97 años, ha ganado el Premio Cervantes 2011. Es el escritor más veterano en recibir esta distinción. La ministra de Cultura, Ángeles González-Sinde, ha anunciado en la sede del ministerio el fallo del galardón más importante de las letras hispanas, dotado con 125.000 euros. Parra (San Fabián de Alico, Chile, 1914), creador de la corriente llamada antipoesía, es hermano de la célebre cantautora Violeta Parra, fallecida en 1967. Académico chileno, matemático y físico, había sonado para el Cervantes varias veces en los últimos años. Precisamente, el próximo número de Babelia, que se publica este sábado, lleva en su portada un perfil de Parra escrito por Leila Guerriero. En él afirma el autor: “Siempre he pescado cosas que andaban en el aire”.

[…]

Parra ha ejercido enorme influencia, entre otros, en el fallecido novelista Roberto Bolaño, quien le consideraba a la altura de Jorge Luis Borges y César Vallejo. “Escribe como si al día siguiente fuera a ser electrocutado”, dijo de él. Bolaño afirmó también que, “el que sea valiente, que siga a Parra”. El chileno representa la adaptación a la lengua española de lo que el crítico Julio Ortega llamó “el dialoguismo civil de la moderna poesía inglesa”, más cercana al lenguaje hablado y de la conversación que la elevación lírica y a veces épica de su compatriota Neruda.

The Newest Youngsters in Literary Spain

El Pais has an article crowning the latest literary youngsters on the occasion of the Eñe Festival. I know nothing about any of them. Some are related to the Indignados movement in Spain, which is similar to the Occupy movements and is really the first since they began occupying La Plaza del Sol in Madrid early this year. And something else that was interesting was they are mostly poets. But really, who knows with these lists.

Aviso para navegantes: esta no es una de esas generaciones que tanto gustan (y disgustan) en el mundillo literario, sino una muestra de nuevas propuestas (o novísimas, como alguna vez y en otras circunstancias se dijo) y talentosos escritores jóvenes que no tienen por qué coincidir entre ellos en sus presupuestos estéticos, sensibilidades u objetivos, más allá de la coincidencia en su fecha de nacimiento.

[…]

La mayoría son poetas. Incluso hay quien habla de “baby boom poético”. Se entiende que la juventud sea propicia para el arrebato poético (Arthur Rimbaud había finiquitado sus obras completas a los 19 años), pero en este grupo también hay ensayistas -como Ernesto Castro, autor de Contra la posmodernidad, en Alpha Decay, o Quique Maestu (1989), interesado en temas políticos-, novelistas -como Julio Fuertes Tarín (1989), autor de La legendaria rebelión de los fumadores, en la editorial Papel de Fumar- o traductores y editores -como Elisabeth Falomir Archambault (1988), que trabaja para editoriales como Gadir, Melusina o La Galera-.

Los poetas Alberto Guirao, Bárbara Butragueño, Judith del Río, además de los ya citados anteriormente, han aparecido en el libro Tenían 20 años y estaban locos (La Bella Varsovia), antología de poesía joven titulada así por unos versos de Roberto Bolaño y promovida desde un blog por la escritora Luna Miguel (1990). Precisamente ella y el crítico y narrador Antonio J. Rodríguez (1987) -ambos publicaron la narración breve Exhumación en Alpha Decay y se acaban de mudar de Madrid a Barcelona- han actuado como aglutinante entre estos autores, que trabaron relaciones personales en reuniones celebradas en sus pisos de alquiler, en los eventos literarios que abundan en la capital o en los garitos nocturnos malasañeros. Si antes se entraba en la literatura acudiendo a las tertulias del Café Gijón, a su rancia solera, y siendo apadrinado por un literato veterano, ahora “es todo lo contrario, ahora jóvenes apadrinan a jóvenes”, según apunta L’Autremonde. “La estructura de promoción social ha sido un poco trastocada”, añade Castro, “con las redes sociales es todo más horizontal, aunque la actitud de la crítica más prestigiosa, la de los periódicos, sigue siendo algo paternalista”.

Neruda, Huerta, and Bolano – An Investigation of Influences

John Herbert Cunningham has a long and detailed examination of the late poetry of Neruda, and an Cunningham’s thoughts on its influences on the poetry of David Huerta and Roberto Bolano that was written at the same time. It is an one of those few articles where the writer has the luxury of making his case mostly with the art form, instead of summaries. Even if you don’t like his conclusions, you can at least read large sections of poetry from each of these authors.

Encounters With Street Poets: Fernando

Coffee in had, 9:30 AM, I was studying a fixie in a bike shop window when this guy comes round the corner, stops, and asks if he can ask me something. I look him over—20oz Starbucks cup, cigarette, faux fur vest, shaved head—and think, what’s this guy want. Reluctantly, I say yes, but keep sipping my coffee, as if this is going to protect me some how.

“I’m a street artist and I’m trying to get something together so I can buy a new shirt at Value Village. You see my shoes, ” he points to his Docs, “these are Super Glued together.” I could see an opaque bead of something between sole and shoe leather.

“It works,” I said—one should be encouraging and he did do a good job.

“Can I do a poem for you? If you like it you can give me something,” he says in a kind of half audible voice. Maybe he’s been up all night, he has the look of the tweaker, a little shifty. Then again maybe he’s just nervous, or maybe he’s hitting on me. What ever it is, he has the look of someone who lives on the rough edge but wants something soft like a sonnet without the criticism that comes with poetry.

“Sure,” I say. Poetry can’t hurt, even if it comes from a stranger on an empty street.

“Oh, my cigarette is bothering you.”

It wasn’t.

“I’ll put it out,” and he steps back and puts it out on the side walk. Its a sympathetic moment and he seems to really care about his listener. “Its a love poem about the world. I write poems about love so I can change the world…no, I don’t know if I can do that, he laughs. At least he knows his limits. He closes his eyes for a moment then starts and as advertised its about love, about tenderness and has a hip-hop edge, almost musical. It isn’t a complicated poem, but I can’t remember it now, having left it on the street that generated it. Yet the experience of it is filled with earnestness and sympathy, a belief that this poem, this moment is a bond, an experience that we have to have and will take us beyond the street corner.I don’t so much like the poem as the idea of the poem on the street corner.

He stops. It is awkward, silent, as he looks at me: too much direct eye contact. And I say what you have to say, “Its good.” Another pause, because I don’t know what our contract was. What was I supposed to pay him?

“So can you help me out?” he asks, but is still quiet.

I feel like my ears are plugged. Did I hear him right? I dig down in my pocket: 22 cents. “All I have is this I say,” as I stretch out my hand. It seems insulting.

“Any thing helps. But you could help me buy  new shirt.”

I don’t want to buy him a shirt. It costs too much and now we are back to the moment when I was first looking in the window, thinking what does he want. There is another pause as he realizes I’m breaking the contract.

“You sure?”

“I can’t,” I say.

He turns and I say good luck. He’s disappointed and I as I watch him walk he passes by the Value Village without even looking at the window displays.

Spanish Poert Luis García Montero in Seattle 3/3/2010

LA SOLEDAD COMPARTIDA / A SHARED SOLITUDE
Please join us for a bilingual poetry reading with Spanish poet LUIS GARCÍA
MONTERO (Granada, 1958).  Widely considered the most important poet and critic
of his generation, García Montero is a leading proponent of the �Poetry of
Experience,� the dominant trend in Spanish poetry since the 1990s.  He has
received many prestigious awards, including the Adonais Prize and the Loewe
Prize, as well as the National Poetry Prize and the National Critics Award.
Students in Spanish 596 will read their translations of his poetry for this
event.

Wednesday, March 3
7 PM
Smith Hall 205 (UW Campus)
Free and open to the public