“Huipil” by Natalia Toledo, as translated into English by Claire Sullivan
My skin bursts with the flowers etched upon my dress.
Anyone who has traveled to Mexico has seen a huipil, a traditional garment decorated by hand-woven designs, embroidery, ribbons or lace.
in Hungary there are beautiful embroidered blouses; many of the designs remind me of the huipeles or of Mexico. Some, depending on the region, are more decorated than others.
I am going to the fiestas to dance…
Photo courtesy of Comcast
There is one that is white with a few simple flowers at the collar that evoke the Mayan dress of the Yucatan. It causes one to consider the origins of the Mayas, their proposed Asian connection.
I don’t know anything about such matters except that when I try to decipher the indigenous languages of Mexico or Hungarian, I am totally confused.
“Five Matryoskas”by Gennady Aygi, as translated by Sarah Valentine
3 with an idea
You surround us
as with silk
When I was a child I had a set of Russian Matryoshka Dolls. I’m not sure who gave them to me, or whatever happened to them but I used to love playing with these wooden dolls, nesting and un-nesting them. Who knows? Perhaps these little dolls were the spark that guided me to major in Russian.
“Gennady Aygi (1934-2006) is widely considered to be one of the great avant-garde poets from the former Soviet Union.” The starkness of his poetry attracts me. In “Five Matryoshkas, a poem inspired by the birth of Aygi’s son, we begin in the center of the nest and move outward—in a series of five fragmentary moments. Each section is like each doll in itself—complete.
Here’s a video of Sarah Valentine reading a selection of Aygi’s poems:
Into The Snow, Selected Poems of Gennady Aygi, Translated by Sarah Valentine, Wave Books, 2011
“Thus Bare Shoulder’d” by Gülseli İnal, as translated by Sebnem Susam
Pale and forgetful I was
returning from the lands of rain on my wings raindrops… which had fought with Zephyr
Yes, I am dreaming about rain in the hot desert and in this poem I found myself in the middle of a myth, a dream, the fairies. I could sense the wind—from the west, the raindrops. I felt the magic, the story.
…be it yours
these crystal fingers thus bare shoulder’d be it yours this this rose-
“On weakened legs I walked around the town the whole day. I took photographs” by Katerina Iliopoulou, as translated by John O’Kane
The Hungarian photographer André Kertész with his walking (during thirty years) wore out the network of streets of at least three cities. Eighty-five now, confined (by grief) to his apartment…
Katerina Iliopoulou is a poet, artist and translator, who lives and works in Athens.
What I like this poem is the convergence of so many places that have personal meaning. The stream of images leading to an unexpected ending is quite wonderful too.
In Paris he photographed himself double closing his eyes and a crumpled half-opened white door reflecting in the mirror.
Poetry at the Post, Day 14: Bulgaria Anyone? да, Bulgaria!
“Noah, The Carrier” by Kristin Dimitrova, as translated by Katerina Stoykova-Klemer
To Gilgamesh*, however, he’d spoken like this:
I freed a pigeon, but it returned.
I freed a swallow—same thing.
I was going to head next to Greece at The Post but decided to stop in Bulgaria along the way. Today’s poem is by Kristin Dimitrova, a Bulgarian poet whose work appears in the 2014 Anthology of ContemporaryBulgarian Poetry The Season of Delicate Hunger, edited by Katerina Stoykova-Klemer .
Lake Pancharevo in southern Sofia
I like this poem because thematically it explores myth & legend and truth. We all have those friends who only tell you what you want to hear and then again, many times folks only hear what they want to hear. How much of religion or history is truth? As, we know, history is always written from the viewpoint of the victor, or dominant culture.
There is no way
Truth does not make a good legend
Yet legend is truth’s only carrier.
In an interview Dimitrova says, “I’d like American readers to know that Bulgarian poetry exists.” I must admit I know little about Bulgaria, well, okay, almost nothing.
You can read more about Dimitrova as well as the entire poem “Noah, the Carrier” here. There’s a fun twist at the end.
Ingeborg Bachmann stirbt in Rom/Ingeborg Bachmann Dies in Rome BY BARBARA KÖHLER, as TRANSLATED BY ANDREW SHIELDS
And the borders of the German language
are mined with murderous accidents.
I began reading Barbara Köhler yesterday and I was completely taken in by her work. A contemporary poet born in the former East Germany, she creates new ways of exploring cultural cues in language. She’s precise but also ambiguous. Anyone who has studied a foreign language and lived an expat life understands this ambiguity.. you think you know but do you really?
Ingeborg Bachmann was an Austrian poet and writer who also explored the potential of language. A member of the post-WW II literary group, Group 47, Bachmann moved to Rome in 1953. She died in 1973 at the age of 47 following a fire in her apartment in Rome. According to the police, the fire was due to a burning cigarette.
But back to Barbara Kohler. While Kohler was an artist-in-residence”with Cornell’s Institute for German Cultural Studies, she presented the IGCS Cornell Lecture on Contemporary Aesthetics April 16, 2013. “Some Possibilities For Sailing In A Friendship: Und Weitere Weitere MöglichkeitenBarbara” is a multi media presentation that is unlike anything I have ever experienced before. “The performance pivots on what this prize-winning author cultivates poetically as ‘precision in ambiguity.'”
Now if I could just get a copy of her book of poetry Niemands Frau Gesange , or Nobody’s Wife Cantos, a retelling of The Odyssey. This is a must-read for any epic junkie like me—or at least so I’ve heard.
“Yes, I live inside the piano” by Katerina Rudcenkova, as translated by Alexandra Büchler
Continuing my travels to the Czech Republic, I found the young Czech poet, playwright and photographer, Katerina Rudcenkova. What I’ve read of her work so far, I really like. It is fresh, yet powerful.
“Yes, I live inside the piano” is a short—3-line poem. For a quick poetry fix, you can read it here. It is fun with a twist at the end.
A Matter of Husbands by Ferenc Molnar (1878-1952), as translated by Benjamin Glazer
FAMOUS ACTRESS: You wished to see me?
EARNEST YOUNG WOMAN: [She gulps emotionally] Yes.
FAMOUS ACTRESS: What can I do for you?
EARNEST YOUNG WOMAN: [Extends her arms in a beseeching gesture] Give me back my husband!
FAMOUS ACTRESS: Give you back your husband!
For June first day, I decided to mix it up and select a one-act play. I’ve been googling around looking up everything Hungarian in preparation for my upcoming trip to Budapest and discovered Ferenc Molnar. #lateantiquitystudiesbudapest2014
“Running Water” by Alfonsina Storni (1892-1938), as translated by Muna Lee
Yes, I move, I live, I wander astray—
Water moving running, intermingling, over the sands…
I am obsessed with water Yes, clean, abundant water. After three years living on and off in Oaxaca, Mexico, I have lots of water stories. Oaxaca,Oaxaca is a city of scarce water.
I seem to be attracted to dry places. Now I am in the desert of Far West Texas, It is June and we are waiting for the rains. If all goes well, the rains will begin soon. They have already begun in Oaxaca.
When I read Storni’s poem “Running Water,” I can see and feel the water running….But wait! There is something else, an obstruction: “What are you doing here…/You, the stone in the path…?”
Sadly, for Alfonsina Storni, the boulders of breast cancer and solitude were just too big. At 1:00 am on October 25, 1938, she left her room and walked down to the sea.Legend has it she just kept walking into the sea until she drowned. Her body was discovered later that day.
Here is a link to “Alfonsina y el Mar,” a hauntingly lovely song in memory of Storni. Composed by Ariel Ramírez and Félix Luna, it is sung here by Mercedes Sosa.
I read “Running Water” to the deer this morning. With poetry, you have to find your audience wherever you can. They were not impressed. They ran away.