Friday, September 04, 2009

Letras Libres Agosto 2009

My poem, "The Mill," which appeared in Poems in Spanish (Omnidawn 2005), is one of several works translated by the Mexican poet María Baranda. The August issue of Letras Libres, published in Mexico City, features the poem, along with poems by the distinguished Mexican poet Eduardo Lizalde. It was also an honor to read my work in August with Eduardo Lizalde and Ana García Bergua of Mexico, Amalia Bautista of Spain, Enrique Hernandez D' Jesus of Venezuela, and Rae Armantrout of San Diego at the international poetry festival "Letras en San Luis" in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Enrique Hernandez D' Jesus is also a wonderful photographer. San Luis has a beautiful new art institute established on the grounds and in the redesigned cell blocks of a huge prison of the 18th century. One of its most fascinating features is the guard tower, or panopticon, set at the center. And the willow trees and light sculptures that stripe the prison walls are beautiful in the evening. I'll add a photo of it later.

El molino

Esta es la tarde cuando un pájaro anida en un sombrero
dejado en la calle por un hombre que vuela, un hombre de mundos y pasión, de niebla y vitela
y de esculturas que acechan cuando no estamos mirando, esta es la tarde.

Este es el momento cuando pasa el tráfico tal y como he pensado que pase,
porque he aprendido la manera, este es el momento.

Este es el sitio donde fue inventada la nieve.
Este es el pueblo sobre el que cae, hay tres casas
con luces de plástico a la entrada, un hombre que toca a su mujer
como a ella le gusta ser tocada –no importa qué cálido, siempre neva–
y la mano que hace girar el mundo, este es el sitio.

Esta es la vida que me mantiene despierto por la noche,
su piel y sus distancias, y este es el tiempo con su pie en la grieta,
incapaz de moverse aunque esté pasando, esta es la vida.

Esta es la hora en que el crimen fue cometido:
este es el primer motivo que observa. Este es el río que ahoga
y esta una sombra corrupta que lava sus manos, esta es la hora.

Este es el pez pequeño que se come al grande. Este es el hombre
que vive junto a las vías del tren; y este es el tren pasando.

Este es el molino donde el grano era convertido, este es el grano
inacabado, y este es el lecho vacío del arroyo
que antes hacía girar la rueda del molino, este es el molino de la ausencia.

Traducción de María Baranda

The Mill

This is the evening when a bird nests in a hat
left in the street by a flying man, a man of worlds and heat, of vellum and fog
and sculptures that lurk when we're not looking, this is the evening.

This is the moment when traffic passes as I have taught it to pass,
as I have learned the way, this is the moment.

This is the place where snow was invented.
This is the town it falls on, consisting of three houses
with plastic lights in the doorway, a man who touches his woman
as she likes to be touched--no matter how warm, always snow--
and the hand that turns the world, this is the place.

This is the life that keeps me awake at night,
its distances and skin, and this is time with its foot in a crack,
unable to move yet passing, this is the life.

This is the hour when the crime was committed;
this is the first cause watching. This is the river drowning
and a filthy shadow washing its hands, this is the hour.

This is the little fish eating the big one. This is the man
who lives by the railroad tracks; this is the train passing.

This is the mill where grain was turned, this is the grain
unfinished, and this is the empty bed of the stream
that used to turn the wheel, this is the mill of absence.

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At 9:06 AM, Blogger Elidio La Torre Lagares said...

This is an incredibly crafted poem, and I must add, a magnificent translation that is able to capture and transmit both the tone and tension of the original

At 2:15 PM, Blogger Paul Hoover said...

Thanks very much. I'll pass on your good words to Maria Baranda, the translator.

At 8:57 AM, Blogger Ben Gage said...

sweet poem, the sculptures are like that...

At 9:19 AM, Blogger LittlEArtisT said...

Really nice poem,I like the flow of the words.

At 11:23 AM, Blogger ángel said...

Beautiful poema.

At 3:36 PM, Blogger Jen said...

Lovely poem. When I read the final

This is the mill where grain was turned, this is the grain
unfinished, and this is the empty bed of the stream
that used to turn the wheel, this is the mill of absence.

...I realized that the repetition throughout of "This is..." irresistibly reminded me of
this children's classic, which by
the way, I think is also a great poem:

At 4:19 PM, Blogger The Poet said...

Very nice poem. Superb.

At 6:16 PM, Blogger JenRay said...

Very nice poem. It transported me to another place and I wish I could read Spanish in order to achieve another experience through those words.


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