December 3, 2010

Hugo Claus




a young Hugo Claus



Hugo Claus [Belgium/writes in Dutch]
1929-2008

Born in Bruges in 1929, Claus joined the Dutch Cobra group and founded the influential periodical Tijd en Mens (Time and Man) with the critic Jan Walravens and novelist Louis-Paul Boon. In 1955, he published De Oostakkerse Gedichten (The Oostakker Poems), which represent a high point in postwar Flemish poetry. The poems vividly draw sexual tensions against the landscape of Flanders in a primitive, almost crude animal fashion.


A versatile and prolific writer, Claus’s published work consists of poetry, novels, short stories, numerous plays, film scenarios, and translations, including Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood. One of his most important novels, Het Verdriet van Belgie of 1983 (translated as The Sorrow of Belgium in 1990), concerns a ten-year-old boy growing up in anti-Semitic West Flanders. Family and friends join Hitler’s Flemish brigades and the National Socialist Youth Movement, becoming workers in the German factories. The boy’s mother is mistress and secretary to a Nazi officer, and his father produces Nazi propaganda. Against these offences, the young boy must grow up to seek a moral and poetic awakening. Among his other novels are Een Zachte Vernieling (A Gentle Destruction), Gilles en de nacht (Gilles in the Night), Belladonna: Scenes uit het leven in de provincie (Belladonna: Scenes from Provincial Life), De Geruchten (Rumors), and Het Verlangen (Desire). In 2009 Archipelago Books published his 1962 masterwork, Verwondering (Wonder).


His collected poems are gathered in two volumes, Gedichten 1948-1993 (1994) and Gedichten 1969-1978 (2004). He has received the Triennial Belgian State Prize three times, twice for drama and once for poetry. In 1986 he won the State Prize for Dutch Letters, and in 1986 the Leo J. Krijn prize.



BOOKS OF POETRY

Kleine Reeks (1947); Registreren (1948); Zonder vorm van process (1950); Tancredo infrasonic (1952); Een huis dat tussen nacht en morgen staat (Antwerpen/’s-Gravenhage, De Sikken/Daamen NV,1953); De Oostakkerse gedicthen (1955); Paal in perk (1955); Een geverfde ruiter (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1961); Oog om oog (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1964); Gedichten 1948-1963 (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1965); Het Everzwijn (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1970); Van horen zeggen (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1970); Dag, jij (1971); Figuratief (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1973); Het Jansenisme (1976); Het Graf van Pernath (1978); De Wangebeden (1978); Gedichten 1969-1978 (1979); Claustrum: 222 Knittelverzen (Antwerp: Pink Editions and Productions, 1980); Almanak: 366 Knittelverzen (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1982); Alibi (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1985); Mijn honderd gedichten (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1986); Sonnetten (1988); De Sporen (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1993); Gedichten 1948-1993 (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1994); Gedichten 1969-1978 (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 2004)


POEMS IN ENGLISH

Selected Poems 1953-1973 (Isle of Skye, Scotland: Aquila Poetry, 1986); Greetings: Selected Poems, trans. by John Irons (Orlando Florida: Harcourt, 2005)

Achter Tralies

Zaterdag zondag maandag trage week en weke dagen

Een stilleven een landschap een portret

De wenkbrauwen van een vrouw
Die zich sluiten als ik nadir

Het landschap waarin blonde kalveren waden
Waar het weder van erbarmen
In het Pruisisch blauw der weiden ligt gebrand

Toen heb ik nog een stilleven geschilderd
Met onherkenbare wenkbrauwen en een mond als een maan
Met een spiral als een verlossende trompet
In het Jersualem van mijn kamer.


(from Een huis dat tussen nacht en morgen staat, 1953)


Behind Bars

Saturday Sunday Monday slow week and weak days

A still life a landscape a portrait




The eyebrows of a woman
That clowe when I draw near

The landscape where blonde calves are wading
Where the season of mercy lies burned
Into the Prussian blue of the fields

It was then I painted another still life
With unrecognizable eyebrows and a mouth like a moon
With a spiral like a redeeming trumpet
In the Jerusalem of my room.

Translated from the Dutch by Paul Brown and Peter Nijmeijer



Een Kwade Man

Zo zwart is geen huis
Dat ik er niet in kan wonen
Mijn handen niet langs de muren kan strekken

Zo wit is geen morgen
Dat ik er niet in ontwaak
Als in een bed

Zo waak en woon ik in dit huis
Dat tussen nacht en morgen staat

En wandel op zenuwvelden
En tast met mijn 10 vingernagels
In elk gelated lijf dat nadert

Terwijl ik kuise woorden zeg als:
Regen en wind appel en brood
Dik en donker bloed der vrouwen


(from Een huis dat tussen nacht en morgen staat, 1953)


An Angry Man

No house is so black
That I cannot live in it



Cannot span my hands across its walls

No morning is so white
That I cannot wake in it
Like a bed

Thus I live and wake in this house
On the crossroads of night and morning

And wander over fields of nerve filaments
And touch with my fingernails 10
At each resigned abandoned body’s approach

Incantating chaste words
Like: rain and wind apple and bread
Clotted and dark blood of women

Translated from the Dutch by Paul Brown and Peter Nijmeijer


Marsua

De koorts van mijn lied, de landwijn van mijn stem
Lieten hem deinzend achter, Wolfskeel Apollo,
De god de zijn knapen verstikte en zwammen,
Botte messen zong, wolfskeel, grintgezang.

Toen vlerkte hij op, gesmaad,
En brak mijn keel.
Ik werd gebonden aan een boom, gevild werd ik, gepriemd
Tot het water van zijn langlippige woorden in mijn oren vloeide,
Die ingeweld begaven.

Zie mij, gebonden aan de touwen van een geluidloos ruim,
Geveld en gelijmd aan een koperen geur,
Gepunt,
Gericht,
Gepind al seen vlinder
In een vlam van honger, in een moeras van pijn.
De vingernagels van de wind bereiken mijn ingewanden.
De naalden van ijzel en zand rijden in mijn huid.
Mij heft niemand meer genezen.
Doofstom hangt mijn lied in de hagen.
De tanden van mijn stem dringen alleen meer tot de maagden
door,
En wie is maagd nog of maagdelijke bruidegom
In deze branding?

(Een bloedkoraal ontstijgt in
Vlokken mijn hongerlippen.
Ik vervloek
Het kaf en het klaver en de horde die op mijn daken
De vadervlag uithangt—maar gij zijt van steen.
Ik zing—maar gij zijt van veren en gij staat
Al seen roerdomp, een seinpaal van de treurnis.
Of zijt gij een buizerd—dáár—een wiegende buizerd?
Of in het zuiden, lager, een ster, de gouden Stier?)

Mij heft niemand meer genezen.
In mijn kelders is de delfstof der kennis aangebroken.


(from De Oostakkerse gedichten, 1955)


Marsyas

The fever of my song, the country wine of my voice
Left him shrinking back, Wolfthroat Apollo,
The god who throttled his lads, and sang like fungi,
Blunt knives, in his wolfthroat, gravel voice.

Then he whirled up, defamed,
And broke my throat.
I was bound to a tree, I was skinned, pierced
Until the water of his long-lipped words flowed in my ears,
That violently burst.

Look at me now, bound by the ropes of a soundless space,
Felled and glued to a copper scent,
Pointed,
Doomed,
Pinned like a moth
In a flame of hunger, in a morass of pain.
The wind’s fingernails reach into my bowels.
The needles of frost and sand ride in my skin.
None now can ever cure me.
My deaf-mute song hangs in the hedges.
The teeth of my voice reach only the virgins,
And who’s still a virgin or a virgin bridegroom
In these breakers?

(In clots the blood coral
Rises from my hunger-lips.
I damn
The chaff and the clover and themob striking out
The father’s colors on my roofs—but you are of stone.
I sing—but you are of feathers and stand
Like a bittern, a semaphore of mourning.
What are you, a buzzard—there—a dandling buzzard?
Or in the south, lower, a star, a golden Taurus?)

None now can ever cure me.
In my cellars the ore of knowledge begins to fracture.

Translated from the Dutch by Peter Brown and Peter Nijmeijer



De regenkoning

De regenkoning sprak (en gelovig waren mijn oren):
‘Hier heb ik de vrouw: gevlamde anus,
Borstknop en navelachtige nachtschade,
Daar kan geen starveling tegen.’
Toen brak
Het rijk der onderhuid aan splinters.

Regeerde deze Ram uitbundig en verrukt?
Niet vragen. Luister niet.
Het verhaal van zijn tanden drong
In alle vrouwen, dwingend
Als een zomerregen, een koperen lente, als een vroegtijdig
Ondernaan in hun liezen begraven doorn.

het regende zeventig dagen—de nachten waren gegolfd
En zout. Onthoofde raven vielen.
En alle daken spleet een oog.
En sedert woont in mij,
In mijn ontkroond geraamte,
Een regenkoning die vlammen wekt.

(from De Oostakkerse gedichten, 1955)


The Rain King

The rain king spoke (my ears as faithful
Chattels to my liege): “Here we have a woman:
Flamed anus, breast-bud and navel nightshade
That no mortal can resist.”
Then the kingdom
Of cutis broke apart in shivers.

Was this Ram’s rule exuberant and rapturous?
Do not ask. Do not listen.
The narrative of his teen penetrated
All women, compelling
As a summer rain, a copper spring, a thorn
Prematurely buried at the focus of their groins.

For seventy days it rained (the nights were undulating,
Salt). Decapitated ravens plummeted.
The roofs slit open on the eye.
And since then lived in me,
In my abdicated skeleton,
A rain king awaking flames.

—Translated from the Dutch by Peter Brown and Peter Nijmeijer



Het Dier

Het beest in de weide (van de vlammen gescheiden)
Ziet hoe op poten de dag aanbreekt
Hoe met gebaren de zon haar zevenstaart omslaat

En (in bladgoud, lichtogig en bevend)
Het verlangt niet meer.
‘s Nachts begeeft het zacht en dringt weer in het

Woud waar de koude jager roept.
Zo veilig, zo tam gaat geen mens
De wereld binnen.


(from De Oostakkerse gedichten, 1955)


The Animal

The beast in the pasture (separated from the flames)
Sees how on legs the day breaks
How gesturing the sun regales its seven-tail

How (autumn-gold, dew-eyed and trembling)
It desires nothing more.
At night it recedes softly and penetrates still

The forest where the cold hunter calls.
So safe, so tame, no man
Enters his world.

Translated from the Dutch by Peter Brown and Peter Nijmeijer



De zee

De schorre zeilen, de sneeuwende zee met
De vinkenslag der baren: haar bladeren
En het doornaveld verlangen: haar golven

Rijden tegen het land waar de flag der bronst uithangt,
Monsteren de muren aan,
Lokken het mos en de mensen, de merries en het zand,

Laten de stenen als sterrebeelden achter
En bevrijden—zij, de zee en haar schuimbekkende beesten—
De mann in alle vrouwen, de tanden in mijn mond.

(from De Oostakkerse gedichten, 1955)


The Sea

The husky sails, the snowing sea with
The finch-trap of the billows: her leaves
And the naveled desire: her waves

Ride up against the land where the flag of rut
Hangs out, recruit the walls,
Lure moss and people, mares and sand,

Leave behind the stones like constellations
And release—they, the sea and her frothing beasts—
The moon in all women, the teeth in my mouth.

Translated from the Dutch by Peter Brown and Peter Nijmeijer


Geheim kan

Geheim kan (en het mes in pijnloos
In uw dubbelhuid) verscholen in de vreugde
Het schuwe woord, het klare woord
(een opening in u gedrongen) er de liefde scheuren.

Wellicht kent gij geen vrouw meer, jager,
Wanneer deze verwondering zich voltrekt.
Uw gave zinnen weerstaan dit niet.
Koorts bereikt u voortdurend en houdt de koude wonde wakker.

(from De Oostakkerse gedichten, 1955)


Secret (And the Knife

Secret (and the knife is painless
In the envelope of your skin) deposited in delight:
The skittish word, a word transparent,
Plunged and plugged (an opening driven into you)
Could disembowel love in you wide open.

Is it that you have lost her, hunter,
In the execution of surprise? Is it that
Your bait belies the lure? Yet
The fever reaches in the execution of the hunt
To keep the cold wound waking.

Translated from the Dutch by Peter Brown and Peter Nijmeijer


Een vrouw-14

Ik zou je een lied in dit landschap van woede willen zingen,
Livia, dat in je zou dringen, je bereiken in je negen openingen,
Blond en rekbaar, hevig en hard.

Het zou een boomgaardlied zijn en een zang van de vlakte,
Een éénmanskoor van schande,
Alsof mijn stembanden mij ontbonden ontsprongen en je riepen,
Alsof
In dit landschap dat mij vernedert, in deze huizing die mij schaadt
(Waarin ik op vier voeten dwaal) wij niet meer ongelijk verschenen
En onze stemmen sloten.
Ontspring in loten,
Nader mij die niet te naken ben,
Wees mij niet vreemd zoals de aarde,

Vlucht mij niet (de manke mensen)
Ontmoet mij, voel mij,
Plooi, breek, breek,

Wij zijn de weerwind, de regen der dagen,
Zeg mij wolken,
Vloei open woordenloos, word water.

(Ah, dit licht is koud en drukt zijn hoornen handen
In ons gezicht dat hapert en zich vouwt)

Ik zou je een boomgaardlied willen zingen, Livia
Maar de nacht wordt voleind en vult
Mijn vlakte steeds dichter dicht—bereiken kan ik je
Niet dan onvervuld
Want de keel der mannelijke herten groneit toe bij dageraad.

(from De Oostakkerse gedichten, 1955)



A Woman: 14

I’d like to sing you a song in this landscape of anger,
Livia, that would penetrate you, reach you in your nine openings,
Blonde and elastic, violent and hard.

It would be an orchard song and a canto of the plains,
A one-man choir of infamy,
As though my vocal chords discorded rose from me and called you,
As though
In this landscape abasing me, in this location impairing me
(Where I four-footed wander) we appeared no longer singular
And locked our voices.
Break out in shoots,
Come close to me, I who am elusive, unapproachable,
Don’t think me strange as the earth,

Don’t run from me (lame humans)
Meet me, feel me,
Crease and break, break,

We are the werewind, the rain of days,
Tell me clouds,
Flow open wordlessly, become water.

(Ah, this light is cold and weights its horned hands
To our face that falters and folds in on itself)

I’d like to sing you an orchard song, Livia
But the night comes to an end and fills
My plains more tightly tight—I can reach you
Only unfulfilled
For the stag’s throat chokes at dawn.

Translated from the Dutch by Peter Brown and Peter Nijmeijer


De maagd

In rokken van wierook en distels
komt zij en draagt de kelk naar mij.
Zij is een aap, zo niet-te-vatten oud en snel tussen haar
kleed, het geopend tabernakel,
waarin ter aanbidding glimt de hazelijn van haar buik.

Het dorp dat bidt bekijkt.
Maar voor zijn dove lach
sluit ik met hoog gebaar de orgels af. (Tussen de
vermoeiden leven eist geen moed.)

Dan rent zij in de struiken,
nu schreeuwt zij in het goud, hoe ik haar heiland wezen
zou, maar det de maand, de maan, maar dat er
merries redden in haar vel en dat haar vader
haar noemde naar het galgekruid…
O basta!
Deze non gaat te dikwijls naar de cinema!

En onze liefde hapert.
Hoorbaar kruipen luizen.

Schamper tussen de meerderjarige kenners ineens,
ken ik haar niet meer.

En in het tienjarig bed, in de dovende slaapzaal
wacht ik weer op de ijzeren avondval
over de bladeren.


(from De geverfde ruiter, 1961)

The Virgin

She comes in skirts of incense
And of thorns to bid me drink from the chalice.
She so much the monkey, so immeasurably old and fast between her
Garments, the broached tabernacle, where
For worship’s sake gleams the hare-line of her belly.

The village praying, spies.
To such deaf laughter
I grandly shut the organ. (Living
Among the weary requires little courage.)

Then she darts through the bushes,
Now she’s screaming in the gold, that I was to be her savior
But that the month, the moon, but that the
Mares were riding in her skin, and that her father
Named her after gallow-herb…
Oh, nonsense!
This nun goes to the movies far too often!

And our love falters.
Audibly lice creep.

Scornful, suddenly surrounded by these adult connoisseurs,
I know her no longer.

And on the decennial bed, in the quenching dormitory
I await once more the iron nightfall
Over the leaves.

Translated from the Dutch by Peter Brown and Peter Nijmeijer


N.Y.

1

Over de rimpels van hef asphalt, in de rook die al seen dooier-
zwam vannuit de roosters welt
dragen negerkrijgers tussen hun olielijf een roze zomeravondjurk
als de vrouw van een senator.

In het schiereiland van beton, in de bronstige paleizen
--lekbakken voor de knorrige jets daarboven—
koopt iedereen de sigaret van de man die denkt,
eet iedereen het gemalen vlees met nikkelen tanden,
wast ieder zich in filmsterrenmelk.

Wat beveiligt mij tegen
deze kanonnenkoorts?

Een tekening rond de linkertepel
welsprekend uitgevoerd door Tattooing Joe,
the electric Rembrandt.


2

Washington was een present. Vandaar het monument.
Eerst me een steek,
dan in de wind als een tent,
maar twee keer martiaal, staat hij, een arduinen vent
tussen malcontentige pakhuizen en venters.

Vanuit de bevolke zandbak, omrand door
tralies, ouders en duiven,
heft af en toe een vader zijn hevig kind
alsof het stervend was en offert het

aan Garibaldi die bewolkt bedenkt: ‘Trek ik mijn dolk of laat
ik hem?’

Gehelmde troubadours beloeren
het vijandelijk gebied waar Holley,
die het soortelijk gewicht van staal heft ontwricht,
pokdalig verwaten in het groen gegoten werd.

Hardhandig word teen pater uit de woning
van Henry James gewalst tussen de schaatsers.

Overal de zeven alwetende vogels van de dood.
Ik wou dat ik was
een laagje lak van wit op wit.


(from De geverfde ruiter, 1961)



N.Y.

1

Across the wrinkles of the blacktop, in the smoke that wells
out of the gratings like a yolky mold
Black warriors carry between their oiled bodies a pink summer
evening frock
like a senator’s wife.

In this peninsula of concrete, in the lustful palaces
--drip-pans for the rumbling jets overhead—
everyone buys the cigarette of the man who thinks,
everyone eats ground mean with nickel teeth,
everyone washes in filmstar milk.

What shall immune me
from the cannon fever?

A drawing eloquently executed
round the left tit of Tattoo Joe,
the electric Rembrandt.


2

Washington was a president. Hence the statue.
First with a three-cornered hat,
then in the wind like a tent,
but doubly martial, he stands, a freestone gent
among the discontentious warehouses and vendors.

Now and then a father lifts his child
out of the populous sandbox surrounded by
bars, parents, pigeons,
as if it’s about to die and offers it

to Garibaldi who thunderously thinks:
“Shall I draw my dagger or let him?”

Helmeted troubadours bespy
the enemy territory where Holley,
who dislocated the specific gravity of steel,
presumptuously has been cast pockmarked in green.

A priest is rudely ejected among the skaters
out of the house of Henry James.

Everywhere the seven all-knowing birds of death.
I’d like to be
a coat of paint white on white.

Translated from the Dutch by James S Holmes


De bewaker spreekt

Huiswaarts kerned ‘s avonds hoor ik sarrend
de plof van hun hoeven onophoudelijk. Af en toe
terwijl ik plas in de sneeuw verwarmen zij zich aan elkaar.
Dan, na twaalf keer ademhalen
haal ik de hemelse straal uit het foedraal,
en richt haar naar de achterblijvers.
Door de hemel beschermd ga ik mijn weg.

Onze eigengemaakte kometen met
het gelukzalig uranium en de kokende kobalt
vergezellen mij waar ik wandel.
Alle koperen egels die wij naar de zon hebben geblazen
beschermen mij op het veld.

Huiswaarts kerende hoor ik
het schuiven van hun scharen
als mijn gevangenen over de ijzeren weiden schaatsen
naar de bunkers.
Dikwijls blijven zij achter. Zij dragen zware zielen.
Ik niet. In mijn eigengereide wenteling
denk ik aan korsetten en goud en koekjes.


(from De geverfde ruiter, 1961)



The Guard Speaks

Turning homeward at night I incessantly hear
the nagging plop of their hooves. Now and then
while I piss in the snow they warm themselves on each other.
Then after twelve deep breaths
I pull the celestial ray from its holster
and point it at the stragglers.
Protected by heaven I go on my way.

Our self-made comets with
the blessed uranium and boiling cobalt
go with me where’er I walk.
All the copper hedgehogs we’ve blown toward the sun
protect me in the field.

Turning homeward I hear
the shuffling of their hosts
as my prisoners skate across the iron pastures
to the bunkers.
They often lag behind. They carry burdensome souls.
Not I. In my inexorable rotation
I think of corsets and gold and cookies.

—Translated from the Dutch by James S Holmes



Heer Everzwijn

15

Hoe elke morgen de appelaar
vertakt veranderd is!
Hij is de boom der kennis niet,

krullend in zijn schors
rijpend in zijn huls.

De appelaar tast naar zijn loof
met kwetsbare twijgen
tot de nacht
dat de woordloze Ram knabbelt aan zijn bast.





20

De damp op de druiven,
de dauw, de bron en de stroom.
Een vrouw die koert: ‘Hier, kom hier, gauw’,
en achter haar vergrauwt de nacht.
Het bloed dat op het blad papier was gespat
is nu geronnen.

Trots? Een bark in de zachte zee.
Berouw? Een gareel dat tegen de keien slaat.
Zij? Een profile in de muur gebrand.



21

De taal van het vuur?
Geroosterde klinkers, verschroeide zinnen.
Koken is een taal. Vanmorgen in bed: de geur van koffie.

In de zomer van 1944 vernietigde het Amerikaanse 3e leger
in Normandië de kaasfabrieken—vanwege de geur—
de geur van lijken, zeiden de soldaten.

In vroegere tijden, zei Aristoteles, werd alle vlees
geroosterd.
Nu nog, wijze man,
jij die zei: ‘Sokrates is bleek’
jij de zei: ‘De mens brengt mensen voort’
jij die toen al—via begrip,
oordeel,
en redenering,
een oplossing had gevonden
voor slaven en vondelingen,

nu nog roostert men vlees,
als in sprookjes: mensenvlees.

‘s Morgens: de geur kan koffie, de taal van het vuur.
Een brandlucht in huis, een volmaakte lauwte.


(from Heer Everzwijn, 1970)




From Lord Boar


15

How each morning the apple tree
has forked: changed!
It is not the tree of knowledge,

curling in its rind,
ripening in its husk.

With vulnerable twigs
the apple tree reaches for its leaves
until the night
when the wordless Ram nibbles its bark.



20

The steam on the grapes
the dew, the spring and the river.
A woman, cooing: “here, come here, quick!”
and the night spreads dim and gray behind her.
The blood that spattered on the page
has clotted now.

Pride? A barque on the soft sea.
Regret? A harness clattering on the cobbles.
She? A profile burnt into the wall.


21

The language of fire?
Roasted vowels, scorched phrases.
Cooking has its own grammar.
In bed, this morning: the smell of coffee.

In the summer of 44 the American 3rd Army
destroyed the cheese dairies in Normandy:
because of the smell—
the smell of corpses, the soldiers explained.

In former days, Aristotle pointed out,
All meat used to be roasted.
Today too, wise man,
you who said: “Socrates looks pale,”
who said: “Man begets man,”
who even then, by means of understanding
and judgment and reason,
suggested solutions for slaves and foundlings,

today too they’re roasting meat,
as in fairy tales: human meat.

Each morning: the smell of coffee, the language
of fire. A burnt smell, perfectly lukewarm.

—Translated from the Dutch by Theo Hermans



Vriendin


Zij zei: ‘Ik zou nooit doden.
Ook niet al seen man op één meter van mij
mijn zoontje wurgde.
Alles wat left is heilig.’

En ik zag haar in natriumlicht,
de sibylle met haar schandelijke wet,
krols van zelfmoord en gebed.

Hoe de klei hongert naar het gebeente
en de aarde naar de mest
en de dweil naar het bloed!
En hoe ik dans in mijn dierlijk zweet
en doden zou en hoe!

En toen zag ik haar
teer, breekbaar, nachtblind,
verdwenen in het verleden,
zoals vroeger de lichtgevende nachtwolk.


(from Van horen zeggen, 1970)


Girlfriend


She said: “I would never kill even
if I had my hands around the man
who strangled my young son.
All that lives and crawls is holy.”

I saw her in the sodium light,
randy with suicide and sanctity,
the sibyl with her shameful law.

How clay hungers for bones, the earth
for muck, the cloth for blood. How
I would dance in my animal blood
and how I would kill, and how!

I saw her disappear into the past
tender, brittle, nightblind, luminous
like the shards of moonlight on cloud cover.

Translated from the Dutch by Peter Brown and Peter Nijmeijer

Kringloop

De borden van het Laatste Avondmaal
bleven staan na de dood van de Heiland.
Schillen, kruimels, korsten vet,
de bevlekte schalen, het dof bestek.
De afdruk van een gebit in een appel.
De botten van een fazant.
Toen, ‘s morgens, kwamen de meiden
en zetten de tafel weer kllar voor het ontbijt.

Eerst is er de tijd van de goden, dan komt
de tijd van de helden, en dan die van de mensen.
Is dit verval? Geenszins. Want de kringloop komt terug
zoals voedsel folgt op excrement.

Vico zei: ‘Eerst was er wat noodzakelijk was,
toen wat nuttig was,
daarna kwam de gemakzucht,
later het genot en de wellust
en uiteindelijk—heir en nu—de waanzin
die elke levenskracht verspilt.’

Vico vergat god noch verrader,
priester noch kannibaal.

In elk koraal horde hij
het gebalk van de mongool.

(from De Wangebeden, 1978)


Circuit

The plates of the Last Supper
were left standing after the demise of the Savior.
Peelings, crumbs, fatty rind,
the soiled dishes, the dull cutlery.
The impression of a denture in an apple.
The skeleton of a quail.
Then, in the morning, the maids came
and set the table for breakfast.

First is the time of the gods, then
the time of heroes, and then that of mortal man.
Is this decline? No way! For the circuit returns
like food follows on defecation.

Vico said: “First there was what was necessary,
then what was useful,
and after that came pleasure,
later delight and leisure
and at last—here and now—the madness
that saps every lifeforce.”

Vico forgot neither god nor betrayer,
priest nor cannibal.

In every hymn he heard
the braying of the hordes.

Translated from the Dutch by Cornelis Vleeskens


Etude

Er is, er is zoveel, bij voorbeeld die ongelukkige
die in het prieel staat te beschrijven.
Hij beschrijft warden, conplementaire tonen
de stoornis in de sferen
het glazuur van de voltooid verleden tijd.

Er is de leraar en zijn totale geschiedenis
er is de Jezuïet van de rechte lijn
de poelier van het vluchtige
hij de ontbijt met een concept
hij de aleatorisch slikt
hij die in vrieskelders snikt om de steeds
verder voortvluchtige paradox van de ruimte
hij die left van de obscene statuten voor kunst

terwijl ex nihilo

Er is wat onstaat uit dorst
er is wat door dat onstaan wordt ontdaan
er is natuur met haaar randen en rafels
er is pigment en het spoor van een hoef
er is zoiets stils al seen dampened heuvel
zoiets wilds als de vuilnis van verdriet
er is een ladder onder de takken
er is de waanzin van de bladeren
de kalmte van de vlammen
er is Eris die zwerft
op zoek naar het gekerm van de mensen
er zijn de lijken van vrienden

er is ex nihilo
hoe dan ook het noodweer
en het dichtbij lawaai van de verre zee.


(from De Sporen, 1993)


Etude

There is, there is so much, take that lame duck
defining in the summer house.
He defines values, complementary scales
the disturbance in the spheres
the glazed time of the past perfect.

There is the teacher and his sum of history
there is the Jesuit of the straight and narrow
the poulterer of the fleeting
the one who breakfasts on a concept
the one who swallows aleatorically
the one in the freezer whining about the always
receding paradox of outer space
the one who lives by the obscene statutes of art

while ex nihilo

There is what is made from thirst
there is what is unmade by what was made
there is nature with its edges and loose ends
there is pigment and a hoof-print
there is the quiet of a steaming hill
the wilderness of the trash of grief
there is a ladder under the branches
there is the lunacy of the leaves
the calm of the flames
there is Eris wandering
in search of the groaning of men
there are the corpses of friends

there is ex nihilio
the storm anyway
and the nearby sounding of the distant sea.


Translated from the Dutch by Theo Hermans and Yann Lovelock


PERMISSIONS

Permission to reprint poems in Dutch granted by De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Copyright ©1994 by Hugo Claus. Reprinted from Gedichten 1948-1993.

“Behind Bars,” “An Angry Man,” “Marsyas,” “The Rain King,” “The Animal,” “The Sea,” “Secret (And the Knife,” “A Woman: 14,” “The Virgin,” “N.Y.,” “The Guard Speaks,” “from Lord Boar,” “Fable,” and “Girl Friend”
Reprinted from Peter Glassgold, edited with an Introduction, Living Space: Poems of the Dutch “Fiftiers” (New York: New Directions, 1979). ©1979 by Peter Glassgold/The Foundation for the Translation of Dutch Literary Works. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

“Circuit”
Reprinted from Naked Poetry: Dutch Poetry in Translation, translated by Cornelis Vleeskens (Melbourne: Post Neo Publications, 1988). Reprinted by permission of the translator.

“Etude”
Reprinted from Modern Poetry in Translation: Dutch and Flemish Issue, No. 12 (Winter 1997).
Reprinted by permission of Theo Hermans and Yann Lovelock.



One Legged Dance
by Douglas Messerli

Hugo Claus Greetings (Orlando, Florida: Harcourt, 2005). Translated from the Dutch by John Irons

Soon after I published the Project for Innovative Poetry anthology of the Dutch Fifiters, I discovered that Harcourt had just published a new collection of Claus poems, which I immediately ordered through Amazon. Upon its receipt, however, I wondered perhaps if I’d ordered the wrong book. It seemed amazing to me that this poet, whose work—as the fiction above suggests—often portrayed an almost brutal depiction of sex and the human beast, might have a book titled, Greetings, as if the bitter ironist I knew had suddenly joined the card writers of Hallmark. If there was one thing that Claus never seemed to do was to merrily “greet” his readers. The strange photograph on the cover, depicting, I presume, I underside of a bridge (in Flanders?) continued my confusion. Was Claus’s dark vision being presented as a “soaring bridge” between beings. The poem which with the volume began—inexplicably reprinted on the book’s back cover—was, moreover, one of the worst poems by Claus I had ever read. Its end rhymed lines, “crow/glow,” “ways/ablaze,” etc and its conventional subject matter—the days become shorter, “slighter than a butterfly,” all because of love—seemed almost unrecognizable of what I knew of the Claus canon.

Who was this translator, John Irons (the internet suggests he may be a British translator living in Odense, and, if it is the same gentleman, a rather tepid poet—

pa was six days gone
in a coffin of pale wood
clad in a white shroud
with pale blue ribbons

begins one of his “Pa” poems titled “Farewell”)—and what was the standard for the poems which he had chosen? The book contained neither introduction nor introductory note, no substantial statement about Claus (a short 6-line bio and photograph appear on a jacket leaf) and, even more oddly, no copyright line, which would at least tell us from which of his books the poems had been collected. It was if the book had simply willed itself into English.*

Although I would have chosen another selection of Claus’s poems—particularly when it comes to the rhymed sonnet-sequence of 12 pages near the end of the book (the alternating and sequential rhymes—“design/Einstein,” “detect/neck,” “damp/camps,” etc nearly drown out any message that the poet might have wanted to convey)—there are, nonetheless, important poems in this volume representing some of Claus’s best writing.

As I have indicated—and the vast majority of these poems support my argument—Claus’s Flanders is a dark world, a place of “Sparse song dark thread / Land like a sheet / That sinks…,” a world in which “A glass man falls out of a pub and breaks.” If the recurring themes of his poetry seem predictable and almost maudlin—the difficulty of growing older (what I described above as the “rickety-boned” subject matter of Desire, and his life-long love of his wife and man’s desires in general)—Claus’s presentation of these subjects is quite the opposite of sentimentality: the wife and husband as represented in his elegiac poem “Still Now,” for example, battle out their life and love, he “scratching and clawing for her undersized no-man’s-land,” she a “giggling executioner,” beheading him in her “cool glistening wound.” The poem ends with an image of their continuing struggles:

Still now riveted in her fetters and with the bloody nose
of lovers I say, filled with her blossoming spring:
“Death, torture the earth no longer, do not wait, dear death,
for me to come, but do as she does and strike now!”

Again in the poem “His Prayers,” Claus presents the act of loving—something he often portrays in crude and occasionally scatological terms—as a kind of beautiful punishment:

I dreamed I pulled off my eyelashes
and gave them to you, merciful one,
and you blew on them as on a dandelion,
oh, hold back your punishing hand!
……
—I submit
to your pleasure

There is a sense of submission, in fact, in nearly all of Claus’s poems. The world of his Flanders is, in its stench of human misery and flesh, highly unjust: “Do not talk about the natural hygiene of the universe / which justifies death (from “His Notes for ‘Genesis 1.1’”). In one of his most parable-like poems, “Elephant,” Claus spells out this perpetual cycle of love and destruction which ends nearly always in his work in submission and death: meeting an elephant, the narrator and the beast become “good friends,” until one day he catches the animal “giving me a look. / an ice-cold look, a plaice’s look.”

Then I put on my wishing cloak
I donned my wig of cunt-hair
and topped it with my dreaming cap
with circle, stars, and stripes,
and then I recited my formula of murder
from the Catalogue of Changeable Signs
The elephant was an instant corpse.
Without a sigh he fell on his rump
and rumbled, crumbled, tumbled into ash,

But if the world is unjust, its inhabitants are heroes for simply living. The image of the one-legged dance (reminding me of the tradition of Flemish painting) appears again and again in Claus’s poetry. It is the dance itself, as painful and impossible as it is, that redeems the brutal world he evokes. In the poem “Simple” he weaves several of his dominant themes—love, submission, fear, death—together

the two of us dance on just one leg.
When I kneel at your knees
and I bring you to your knees
we are fragments full of pity and danger
for each other.
With chains around their necks
the dogs of love come.

That is not what I might describe as a world of “greetings,” but there is no question that Claus’s vision is of a humane redemption of the sorrow and suffering we all must face.

*I have since discovered on the translator’s website that the poems include the works of Claus’s ik schrijf je neer with the exception of two poems. Irons is indeed the author of the “Pa Poems.” I believe readers would have been better served to know this information and the fact that John Irons has translated a great many other Dutch, Danish, and Swedish and Norwegian poets as well.

Los Angeles, March 10, 2006
Reprinted from The Green Integer Review and Jacket



While reading Claus' novel The Swordfish, I was asked by the British newspaper The Guardian to write an obituary on Hugo Claus. I have included that document below.

On March 19, 2008, Hugo Claus, Belgium’s leading writer, died at Middelheim Hospital in Antwerp at the age of 78; he had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and, according to his wife Veerle De Wit, had chosen euthanasia, which is legal in Belgium, as his agent of death. As the head of the Flemish Literature Fund, Greet Ramael, responded: “He chose himself the moment of his death. He left life as the proud man he was.”

Author of hundreds of works, Claus was a major poet, novelist, dramatist, and essayist. Born in Bruges in 1929, he began writing poetry shortly after World War II, joining the group of mostly Dutch poets, often referred as “the Fiftiers.” As a visual artist—Claus was the son of a painter—he was also involved with the international art movement Cobra (taking its name from the first letters of the major cities of its proponents [COpenhagen-BRussels-Amsterdam]).

In English his Selected Poems 1953-1973 was published in Scotland in 1986 and a more recent collection, Greetings, was published by Harcourt in 2005. A large selection of his poetry also appears in the Green Integer volume Living Space: Poems of the Dutch Fiftiers in 2005.

It is as a novelist, however, that he is best known to the English-speaking audience. His first novel, De Metsiers (The Duck Hunt)—a work inspired by William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying— was published in the US in 1955, and other works, The Swordfish (Peter Owen, 1996) and Desire (Viking-Penguin, 1997), followed. He is perhaps best known, however, for his 1983 masterwork, Het verdriet van België (The Sorrow of Belgium, published by Penguin in 1991 and recently reprinted by the Overlook Press). In the tradition of Günter Grass’ The Tin Drum, The Sorrow of Belgium recounts the story of Louis Steynaeve from his time in a Catholic boarding school through World War II. Claus’ clearly autobiographical narrative explores the expressions of the Dutch- and French-speaking Belgians and their various collaborations with the English, French, and Germans. Claus’ intricate insights into the interrelationships of social and governmental corruptions, black market profiteering, revenge, anti-Semitism, and simple stupidity reveal the reasons for complacency and outright acceptance of the Nazis by thousands of his countrymen including Claus’ own early romanticizing of the Germans. As Claus later admitted: “The Germans were disciplined, sang marching songs—they were very exotic enemies. Like Louis, I liked them very much.”

In all his works, Claus tackles difficult subjects, including incest, homosexuality, and what he determined were the detrimental effects of religion. Desire depicts a world of small-time drunkards and gamblers, in particular Michel and Jake, who travel together to Las Vegas in search of excitement; what the two discover in the American desert are the entangled tragedies they have left behind; Michel, we gradually perceive, has abandoned the woman he was to marry, Jake’s daughter Didi, for a homosexual affair with another of the bar denizens, leaving her in mental collapse. Jake, a seemingly jovial and peaceful man, suddenly lashes out in anger, killing a young gay dancer from the Circus Circus chorus.

Claus’ novel The Swordfish recounts the story of a wealthy woman and her son left by her husband in a small, provincial town. Martin, an intense child, who has been converted to religion by a local teacher, sees himself as Jesus bearing the cross to Golgotha, while their drunken hired hand, Richard—a former veterinarian who has been imprisoned for performing unlawful abortions—looks on. Accusations of child abuse and the sexual coupling of the woman, Sibyelle, with a nebbish-like schoolteacher, ends in the brutal murder of Richard’s wife.

In his 1969 play Vrijdag (Friday), Claus explores an incestuous relationship. When George Vermeersch returns from prison, he discovers his wife is having affair with another man. Partially in revenge but also in an attempt at reconciliation, he admits that he has had a sexual relationship with their daughter; the wife, in turn, admits that she had known of the situation without demanding it come to an end, and, as the lover leaves her, the two are left to reconstruct their empty marriage.

For all his seemingly dark and despairing portrayals of Flemish life, however, Claus was a great believer in the human race, recognizing everyone as interconnected and linked; accordingly, any evil or mean act of his figures effects the entire society. The betrayal of anyone is the betrayal of all. As Claus noted in a magazine interview: “We cannot accept the world as it is. Each day we should wake up foaming at the mouth because of the injustice of things.”

Claus was often nominated for the Nobel Prize and is quoted as saying he had given up hope of ever winning. He did, however, receive numerous Belgian and European prizes for his writing, including the Henriëtte Roland Holst prize for his plays (1965), the Constantijn Huygensprize (1979), The Prijs der Nederlandse Letteren (the Dutch Literature Prize, 1986), the Libris Literatuurprize (1997), and the Aristeion Prize (1998).

Claus was also a filmmaker, and from 1953 until 1955 he lived in Italy where his lover and, later first wife, Elly Overzier acted in films. Overzier bore Claus his first son, Thomas in 1963. In the early 1970s Claus had an affair with Sylvia Kristel, the star of the Emanuelle erotic films; their son Arthur was born in 1975. Claus married his second wife, Veerle De Wit, in 1993.

Often described as a “contrarian,” Claus was a writer one might describe as both traditional and experimental, often blending the two to produce powerful messages that, for sympathetic readers, could not be ignored. And in that sense Claus’s canvas was, as he describes it in his poem “A Woman: 14,” a “landscape of anger”:

Don’t run from me (lame humans)
Meet me, feel me,
Crease and break, break,

As Belgian prime minister, Guy Verhofstadt, said of Claus, he was the Dutch-speaking world’s “greatest writer.”

--Douglas Messerli

Los Angeles, April 13, 2008
Reprinted in different form from The Guardian, Friday, May 2, 2008.

December 2, 2010

Andrea Zanzotto


Andrea Zanzotto [Italy]
1921-2011


Born on October 10, 1921 in Pieve di Soligo near Treviso, Andra Zanzotto is one of the most respected contemporary poets in Italy. His father, Giovanni, received degrees from the École supèrieure de peinture in Brussels and from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. During his early ears the young Andrea lived with his parents near via Sirtori, but in 1922 they moved to the house in the Cal Santa district which is often described by the poet in his works.

In 1939 Zanzotto enrolled in the College of Letters at the University of Padua, working at the magazine Il Bo. He received his degree in Italian literature in 1942, writing on the work of Grazia Deledda.
     He was called into military service soon after, but was deferred for asthma and other causes. He refused to respond to volunteer recruitment of the Fascist Party.

     Zanzotto taught for several years in high schools, contributing to numerous newspapers and journals, including writing a literary page in Il Corriere della sera. He published his first poetry collection in 1951, Dietro il paesaggio. Other books, including Vocativo, La Beltà, and Filò soon followed, further establishing his reputation.

A recipient of many awards and a skilled reader of classical as well as contemporary literature, Zanzotto has also published a long series of brilliant essays. Mondadori brought out two volumes: Fantasie di avvicinamento (1991) and Aure e disincanti (1994).


BOOKS OF POETRY


Dietro il paesaggio (Milan: Mondadori, 1951); Elegia e altri versa (Milan: Edizioni della meridiana); Vocativo (Milan: Mondadori, 1962); IX Egloghe (Milan: Mondadori, 1962); La Beltà (Milan: Mondadori, 1968); Gli sguardi i fatti e Senhal (Milan: Mondadori, 1969, 1990); A che valse? (Versi 1938-1986) (Milano: Scheiwiller, 1970); Pasque (Milan: Mondadori, 1973); Poesie (1938-1972) (Milan: Mondadori, 1973); Filò. Per Il Casanova di Felli (Milan: Mondadori, 1976); Il galateo in bosco (Milan: Mondadori, 1978); Filò e altre poesie (Milan: Scheiwiller, 1984); Fosfeni (Milan: Mondadori, 1983); Idioma (Milan: Mondadori, 1986); Poesie (1938-1986) (Milan: Mondadori, 1993); Meteo (Rome: Donzelli, 1996); Sovrimpressioni (Milan: Mondadori, 2001); Conglomerati (Milan: Mondadori, 2009)


BOOKS IN ENGLISH TRANSLATION



Selected Poetry of Andrea Zanzotto, trans. by Ruth Feldman and Brian Swann (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1975); Poems by Andrea Zanzotto, trans. by Antony Barnett and A. B. Lewes; Peasant's Wake for Fellini's "Casanova" and Other Poems, trans. by John P. Welle and Ruth Feldman (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997); Selected Poetry and Prose of Andrea Zanzotto, trans. by Patrick Barron, Ruth Feldman, Thomas J. Harrison, Brian Swann, John P. Welle, and Elizabeth A. Wilkins (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007)

David Antin


Photograph (c) Douglas Messerli
David Antin [USA]
1932-2016

Born in New York City in 1932, David Antin grew up in Brooklyn in a family of European emigres. His father died when he was two, forcing his working mother to leave him for years at a time with various uncles and aunts who, as he remembers it, argued and told endless stories in various European languages. These early family experiences are the subject of many of Antin’s later “talk poems,” and were, in part, what helped him later to be such a gifted storyteller himself.

As a young man he attended Brooklyn Technical High School with intentions of becoming a scientist or an inventor. It was there he read works such as Gertrude Stein’s Three Lives and Joyce’s novels, all of which highly involved him, and began to interest him a literary career. At age 16 he left home, ultimately attending the City College of New York. There he met fellow student Jerome Rothenberg, a poet who still remains a close friend of his in Southern California. At City College he edited the school’s literary magazine and wrote mostly fiction.

His ability with languages helped him to get jobs after college as a scientific translator. When Rothenberg returned from the army, they helped found—along with Ursule Molinaro, Venable Herndon, and Robert Kelly—the Chelsea Review. During that same time, Antin had begun to write poetry, and responsive to Rothenberg’s ideas of “deep image,” began working on a exploratory, expressive poetry that had an “image core.” When the term was taken up by others such as Robert Bly, Antin and Rothenberg felt that their ideas were “eviscerated” of any intellectual significance, and they stopped using it. During this time of the early 1960s, his poetry began to be published in various journals, including El Corno Emplumado, Folio, Kayak, and Trobar—one even in The New Yorker.

Meanwhile, in December 1961, he married Eleanor, who later became an internationally recognized artist. Antin became disengaged with the kind of writing he was doing and turned from imagistic based works—works which critic Marjorie Perloff has argued owe something to Surrealism and Breton—to a “process poetry,” work influenced by the art world of the 1960s—much of which Antin was writing about in art journals—which was more “confrontational” than the lyrically-based work he had been doing. In 1968 he published Code of Flag Behavior and in 1971 Meditations built around an alphabetical listing of words that high school children had trouble spelling.

The same year, Antin was asked by Dore Ashton to take part in a series of talks she was organizing at Cooper Union, and, along with other talks he was asked to do (at Pomona College in Southern California and a reading at the San Francisco Poetry Center) Antin began working with the improvisatory compositions that have defined much of his poetic activity from 1972 onward.

These pieces generally begin with a suggested topic, which, after research into various related subjects, are created before the audience as Antin interweaves various ideas and stories together through poetic devices such as repetition, rhythm, metaphor, and other poetic conceits. The pieces are taped and later typed up and revised by the poet into works that look more like prose pieces, albeit without margins and standard capitalization. Among his important books of “talk poems” are Talking (1972), Talking at the Boundaries (1976), Tuning (1984), What It Means to Be Avant Garde (1993), and i never knew what time it was (2005). In 2002 Granary Books published A Conversation with David Antin, an interchange between Antin and Charles Bernstein.

In 1968—on the day that Robert Kennedy was shot and killed in Los Angeles--the Antins moved to Southern California to become professors of art at the University of California at San Diego. Thirty years later they continue to live near La Jolla.

Most recently, Antin has published a critical summary of his art and literarty criticism, Radical Coherency.

BOOKS OF POETRY

Autobiography (New York: Something Else Press, 1967); Definitions (New York: Caterpillar, 1967); Code of Flag Behavior (Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1968); Meditations (Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1971); Talking (New York: The Kulcher Foundation, 1972), reprinted by (Normal, Illinois: Dalkey Archive Press, 2001); after the war (Los Angeles: Sparrow, 1973); talking at the boundaries (New York: New Directions, 1976); whos listening out there (College Park, Maryland: Sun & Moon Press, 1979); tuning (New York: New Directions, 1984); Selected Poems: 1963-1973 (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1991); What It Means to be Avant Garde (New York: New Directions, 1993); i never knew what time it was (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005)

Click below for a video in which Antin dicusses narrative and poetry:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFqOlTQu_n4

For a talk poem, "Rethinking Freud" by David Antin, click below:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViWPGQaPrwI

For a large selection of talk poems, interviews, and even David's "Sky Poem I" click below:
http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Antin.php

December 1, 2010

Jorge Guillén


Jorge Guillén [Spain]
1893-1984

Born in Valladolid, Spain, Jorge Guillén was another major poet in the Spanish Generation of 1927, which included figures such as Federico García Lorca, Pedro Salinas, Rafael Alberti, Luis Cernuda, and Vicente Aleixandre.

Guillén attended elementary school at the Institute of Valladolid, and studied at the Maison Perreyve of the French Fathers of the Oratory in Fribough before attending the universities of Madrid and Granada. His attendance at the Sorbonne in 1917, led him to several other institutions in Oxford, Seville, and─in exile from the Civil war of Spain─Middlebury College in Vermont, McGill University in Toronto, and Wellesley College in Massachusetts. After 1947 he continued in the United States as visiting professor at Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. In 1972 he was awarded the Miguel de Cervantes Prize, one the most important of Hispanic literary honors. He returned to Spain in 1977 after Franco's death. He died in Málaga in 1984.

It was during his French stay that he began to compose his first and one of his most important collections, Cántico. That book, published in Madrid in 1928, was immediately recognized as a masterwork. The critic Joaquín Casalduero described the book as perhaps the most "austere" work of Spanish literature, and one of its most "simple, dedicated to one single theme... The composition of Cántico is that of a rose."

For many years Guillén was known in Spain as only the author of Cántico, but in the late 1950s he published another masterwork, the three volume poetic trilogy, Clamor. 1968 saw the publication of another major work, Aire nuestro (Our Air), a work, written in his 80s, about the inevitability of death and his continuing affirmation of life.

BOOKS OF POETRY

Cántico (Madrid: Revisa de Occidente, 1928; revised and enlarged in 1936, 1945, and 1950); El encanto de las serenas (Mexico City: Panamericana, 1953); El huerto de Melibea (Madrid: Insula, 1954); Lugar de Lázara (Málaga: Dardo, 1957); Clamor, tiempo de historia (Maremagnum, Que van a dar en a mar and A la altura de las circunstancias) (Buenos Aires: Sudamericana, 1957, 1960, 1963); Viviendo y otros poemas (Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1958); Poemas de Castilla (Santiago, 1960); Suite italienne (Milan: All'Insegna del Pesce d'Oro, 1961); Tréboles (Santanader, Spain: Isla de los Tatones, 1964); Selección de poemas (Madrid: Gredos, 1965; enlarged 1970); Relatos (Málaga: Guadalhorce, 1966); Homenaje: Reunión de vidas (Milan: All'Insegna del Pesce d'Oro, 1967); Antología, edited by José Manuel Blecua (Salamanca, Spain: Anaya, 1970); Obra poética (Madrid: Alianza, 1970); Y otros poemas (Buenos Aires: Muchnik, 1973); Al Margen (Madrid: Visor, 1974); Convivencia (Madrid: Turner, 1975); Mientras el aire es nuestro, edited by Philip W. Silver (Madrid: Cátedra, 1978); Poesía amorosa: 1919-1972, edited by Anne-Mrie Couland (Madrid: Cupsa, 1978); Serie castellana (Madrid: Caballo Griego para la Poesía, 1978); Algunos poemas, edited by Angel Caffarena (Santander, Spain: Institución Cultural de Cantabria, 1981); Antología del mar (Málaga: Agora, 1981); La expresión (Ferrol, Spain: Sociedad de Cultura Valle-Inclán, 1981); Aire Nuestro: Final (Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1981); Poemas malagueños (Málaga: Publicaciones de la Diputación Provincial de Málaga, 1983); Sonetos completos (Granada: Ubago, 1988).


ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRANSLATIONS

Cántico: A Selection, trans. by Norman Thomas de Giovanni and others (Boston: Little, Brown, 1965; London: Deutsch, 1965); Affirmation: A Bilingual Anthology, 1919-1966, trans. by Julian Palley (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1968); Horses in the Air and Other Poems, trans. by Cola Franzen (San Francisco: City Lights, 1999)


To view poems by the author, click below:
http://www.greeninteger.com/pdfs/Jorge_Guillen.pdf

November 28, 2010

Michael Gizzi

Michael Gizzi [USA]
1949-2010

Born in Schenectady, New York, Michael Gizzi has lived the majority of his life in Providence, Rhode Island and Lenox, Massachusetts. He earned degrees in English and Creative Writing from Brown University. He spent the next decade as a licensed arborist in southern New England. He was during this period closely associated with the poets surrounding Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop’s Burning Deck Press, which published three volumes of his poetry: Bird As (1976), Avis (1979), and Species of Intoxication (1983).

Gizzi moved in the early 1980s to the Berkshires in westernmost Massachusetts, where he began teaching. For the next twenty years he coordinated many poetry readings, most notably at Simon’s Rock of Bard College and at Arrowhead, the former home of Herman Melville. These readings included among others: Robert Creeley, John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, James Schuyler, Bernadette Mayer, Clark Coolidge, Michael Palmer, Lyn Hejinian, Susan Howe, Rosmarie Waldrop, Harry Mathews, and Emmanuel Hocquard.

Throughout the 1990s Gizzi edited Hard Press and lingo magazine. The press published a variety of titles, among them Bernadette Mayer’s classic Desires of Mothers to Please Others in Letters, Merrill Gilfillan’s poetic travelogue Burnt House to Paw Paw, and Trevor Winkfield’s resplendent art book Pageant. Gizzi has continued in this publishing vein with Qua Press, which he co-edits with poet Craig Watson in Jamestown, Rhode Island.

Gizzi has collaborated on a number of projects with Clark Coolidge. Hard Press published their Lowell Connector: Lines and Shots from Kerouac’s Lowell in 1993. John Ashbery said of Gizzi’s No Both (1997), “Razor sharp but also rich and generously compelling, Michael Gizzi’s poetry lambastes as it celebrates, bringing us finally to a place of poignant irresolution.” He is presently a visiting lecturer at Brown University, where he coordinates the Downcity Poetry Series.

Gizzi died in 2010.

BOOKS OF POETRY

Bird As (Providence, Rhode Island: Burning Deck, 1976); Avis (Providence, Rhode Island: Burning Deck, 1979); Species of Intoxication (Providence, Rhode Island: Burning Deck,1983); Just Like a Real Italian Kid (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures 1990); Continental Harmony (New York: Roof Books,1991); Gyptian in Hortulus (Providence, Rhode Island: Paradigm Press,1991); Interferon (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures,1995); No Both (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures/West Stockbridge, Massachusetts: Hard Press,1997); Too Much Johnson (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures,1999); Cured in the Going Bebop (Providence, Rhode Island: Paradigm Press,1999); My Terza Rima (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures, 2001); The Depths of Deadpan (Providence, Rhode Island: Burning Deck: 2009); The Collected Poems of Michael Gizzi (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Firgures: 2015)


╬Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English
1994-1995
A Brodeyak (1942-1993)

It's not humility I'm after nor the pit of my gums
that change verbose signals in this cocoon I keep decoding
call it Opera Buffo just stay the hell away from my noses
they're too rheumy for the harpoons you swallow

Consider the swabby who shares me to you
from perfect glottal yodelling in the next-to-nothing sense
Davy Jones hipflask in the john forsythia
53 rounds with the storied Mazeppa
ballpeen on the lens infiltrating looks waving glemas

And I think how your nails must feel
stuck in a magazine trollop
your sunny likeness misfit to this undertow elongating
thirst for disintegration that lines the sides of shadows
emitting phosphor atop replays one stops to ignore

The child swing ruffian giddyap truck tire rascalings
in grey air as if crystal clicked into memory tic
crystallized names and fallen trees
fallen as this passion inside of me
as you drop to your knees for a taste from another sun


____
Reprinted for Object. Copyright (c)1994 by Michael Gizzi



╬Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English
2005-2006

Chimes at Midnight

The father in exile
stripped of his sundial
borrows the equator for a belt

the son in translation
misrules on a run-through
for eternity

noon would love to behave
like midnight
for once

the past
rides out of houses
green with red breath

only the billowing overcoat
is left everything else
is made up




PERMISSIONS
_____
Reprinted from Big Bridge, III, no. 2 (2005). Copyright ©2005 by Michael Gizzi.

November 27, 2010

Standard Schaefer


Standard Schaefer [USA]
1971

Standard Schaefer was born in Houston, Texas in 1971. His father was an office furniture/equipment salesman and eventually became a fanchisee for an office supply manufacturer. His mother was a teacher, translator, and a secretary for a Chilean based pipeline manufacturer.

In 1992, after working for the Public Broadcast Systems, Schaefer moved to Los Angeles to attend Occidental College. There he encountered the poet Martha Ronk, and studied poetry and fiction with Dennis Phillips and Douglas Messerli. He graduated Magna Cum Laude, with a B.A. in English and Comparative Literature in 1995. In 1997 he took a Master of Professional Writing degree from the University of Southern California. In 1998 he worked temporarily as an editorial assistant for Filmmaker Magazine, and throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s he worked for various small businesses from wine importers to dog grooming. In 2001 he developed his own marketing and ad copy business, Schaefer Enterprises, concentrating on food distribution and real estate development. More recently, he joined the staff of Just Dissent, an organization that protects civil liberties. He also teaches at Otis College of Art.

In 1997 he began, with Evan Calbi, an important Los Angeles literary magazine, Rhizome, which lasted for four issues through 2000. Like many other Angeleno publications, it combined a wide range of American poetry with the work of international figures and contained extensive reviews. With the closure of that magazine, he worked as co-editor, with Paul Vangelisti, for Ribot: A Journal of the Arts. He also edited Vangelisti’s selected poem for Agincourt in 2001. He is currently the non-fiction editor of the Otis College of Art & Design journal, The New Review of Literature.

In 1999 his book of poetry, Nova, was selected as a winner of the National Poetry Series and was published by Sun & Moon Press in 2001. His second book, Water & Power, appeared in 2005. His poems, fiction and essays have appeared in numerous magazines.

BOOKS OF POETRY

Nova (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 2001); Water & Power (New York: Agincourt Press, 2005)
To read poems by this author, click below:

Franklin Bruno

Franklin Bruno [USA]
1968

Born in Pomona, California in 1968, Franklin Bruno was from a family of Italian immigrants. All four of his grandparents had come from Italy, and both his grandfathers grew grapes and boysenberrys in the area. His father taught psychology at San Bernardino College, and wrote several textbooks and popular reference works.

Bruno received his Bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1990 from Pomona College, and a Master’s degree from Claremont Graduate School. He is currently completing his doctoral dissertaton in philosophy at the University of California, Los Angeles. Although his philosophical training has primarily been within the Anglo-American tradition, he personally resists the notion of an unbridgeable gap between that tradition and Continental philosophy. At UCLA he has taught courses on property rights and symbolic logic.

Although Bruno describes himself as mostly self-taught with regard to poetry, he was influenced by courses at Pomona with Jed Rasula and Dick Barnes. He began writing seriously in the early 1990s, and published his first work in Paul Vangelisti’s Ribot in 1995. He also participated as one of the writers contributing on a regular, monthly basis, to Vangelisti’s Lowghost. Since that time, he has contributed to numerous journals, and has had one small collection published by Guy Bennett’s Seeing Eye Books, AM/FM (1999). He has also completed a full-length collection, “Rhododactyl.”

Other than poetry, Bruno is very active in music and music criticism. A guitarist, he has been the primary singer and songwriter for the rock trio, Nothing Painted Blue. The group has released four albums to date, and have another, Taste the Flavor, planned for 2004. He has also been involved with other recording artists such as Jenny Toomey and The Extra Glenns. Music criticism of his has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Village Voice, Spin, Time Out New York, and CMJ Music Monthly.

He describes his poetry as “arranged” or, preferably, “accumulated” rather than written. The work often deals with music and other elements of popular culture.

BOOKS OF POETRY

AM/FM (Los Angeles: Seeing Eye Books, 1999)

To read poems by this author, click below:
http://www.greeninteger.com/pdfs/Franklin_Bruno.pdf

W. S. Rendra [Willibrordus Surendra Broto / Wahyu Sulaiman Rendra] (Indonesia) 1935-2009

W[illibrordus] S[urendra] Broto/Wahyu Sulaiman Rendra (Indonesia)
1935-2009 

Born into a Roman Catholic family in Solo, West Java, in 1935, Rendra was baptized as Willibrordus Surendra Broto, but changed his name to Wahyu Sulaiman Rendra when he embraced Islam upon his marriage in 1970 to Sitoresmi Prabunigrat, his second wife. Throughout much of his life we he was known simply as Rendra.
     He studied English literature and culture at Gajah Mada University in Yogykarta in central Java, but did not graduate, being involved in his first theatrical production for which he was employed. He staged his first important play, Dead Voices, in 1963. Rendra was fascinated by theater since it could embrace both his interest in religious ritual and Western-influenced avant-garde experiments. His sometimes audacious readings and his own poems and the outrageousness of his theater performances brought him wide attention throughout the sixties and into the 1970s. The press gave him the name "Burung Merak," the "Peacock."
 

     Increasingly in the 1970s and 1980s, Rendra moved away from his controversial innovative experiments to an embracement of multi-ethnic cultural expressions throughout Indonesia. In a 1969 drama, he required his actors to give up dialogues, using only their bodies and simple sounds such as "Bib bop," "zzzzz," and "rambate rate rata," performances which journalist poet Goenawan Mohamad described as "mini-word theater."
      Among Rendra's 1970s plays were Mastodon, The Condors, The Struggle of the Naga Tribe, and The Regional Secretary, some of which were banned because of their criticism of the second President of Indonesia, Suharto.
      He also performed Western theater such as works by Shakespeare, Brecht, and the Greeks. Looking younger than his years, Rendra played Hamlet into his late 60s.
     During the Suharto reign, Rendra lived in a poor district of Jakarta, visited by artists from around the world. He was increasingly involved in poetry during this period, using both his performances and readings as a way to gather the masses. In 1979, during a reading at the Ismail Marzuki art center in Jakarta, agents of Suharto threw ammonia bombs onto the stage and arrested the poet. He was imprisoned in the Guntur military prison for none months, kept in solitary confinement.
     After his release from prison, Rendra continued performing and reading, starring in his own eight-hour long play, Panembaha Reso, a work centered on the succession of power in Indonesia. 
     In his later years, Rendra received numerous literary awards, including the Art of the Indonesia Government award in 1970, the Prize of the Academy Jakarta, and the Main Book Prize of the Ministry of Education and Culture in 1976. He was often mentioned as a possible choice of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
     Rendra's poetry is narrative and colloquial, sometimes employing sounds and rhythms such as those he used in his theatrical productions. 
      Rendra died of coronary heart disease in 2009.

BOOKS OF POETRY 

Ballada Orang-Orang Tercinta (Kumpulan sajak); Blues untuk Bonnie; Empat Kumpulan Sajak; Sajak-sajak Sepatu Tua; Mencari Bapak; Perjalanan Bu Arminah; Nyanyian Orang Urakan; Potret Pembangunan Dalam Puisi; Disebabkan Oleh Angin; Orang Orang Rangkasbitung [help is sought in obtaining the city and publisher and the dates of these books) 

POETRY IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRANSLATION 

Ballads and Blues, trans. by Burton Raffel, Harry Aveling, and Derwent May (Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1974); featured in Contemporary Indonesian Poetry, ed. and trans. Harry Aveling (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia: University of Queensland Press, 1975)

A public performance: Rendra and Kantata Takwa, "Puisi Kecoa Pembangunan, live performane 1998

Sermon

 

Fantastic

One hot Sunday

in a church full of people

a young priest stood at the pulpit.

His face was beautiful and holy

his eyes sweet like a rabbit's

and he lifted up both his hands

which were lovely like a lily

and said:

"Now let us disperse.

There is no sermon today."

 

No one budged.

They sat tight in their rows.

There were many standing.

They were stiff. Refused to move.

Their eyes stared.

Their mouths hung open

they stopped praying

but they all wanted to hear.

Then all at once they complained

and together with the strange voice from their mouths

which had to be quickly stifled.

 

"You can see I am still young.

Allow me to care for my own soul.

Please go away.

Allow me to praise holiness

I want to go back to the monastery

to meditate on the glory of God."

 

Again they complained.

No one moved.

Their faces looked sad.

Their eyes questioned.

Their mouths gaped

wanting very much to hear.

 

"This people ask for guidance, Lord

God, why have you left me at this moment?

Like a flock of hungry lazy jackals

they hang their mouths.

It is hot. I piss in my pants.

Father. Father. Why hast Thou forsaken me?"

 

Still no one moved.

Their faces were wet.

Their hair was wet.

Their whole bodies were wet.

Sweat poured onto the floor

because it was so hot

and of the misery they bore.

The stench was extraordinarily foul

And their questions took stank foully.

 

"My brothers, children of the heavenly father.

This is my sermon.

My very first sermon.

Life is very difficult

Dark and difficult

There are many torments.

So in this regard

the wise way to live is ra-ra-ra

Ra-ra-ra, hump-pa-pa, ra-ra-ra.

Look at the wisdom of the lizard

the created God loves most

Go close to the ground

For:

Your souls are squeezed between rocks

Green

Mossy

Like a lizard ra-ra-ra

like a centipede hum-pa-pa."

 

All spoke together:

Ra-ra-ra. Hum-pa-pa.

With a roar everyone in the church:

Ra-ra-ra. Hum-pa-pa.

 

"To the men who like guns

who fix the flags of truth to their bayonet-points

I want you to listen carefully

to lu-lu-lu, la-li-lo-lu.

Lift your noses high

so you don't see those you walk on.

For in this way li-li-li, la-li-lo-lu.

Cleanse the blood from your hands

so as not to frighten me

then we can sit and drink tea

and talk of the sufferings of society

and the nature of love and death.

Life is full of misery and sin.

Life is a big cheat.

La-la-la, li-li-li, la-li-lo-lu.

 

They stood. They stamped their feet on the floor

Stamping in one rhythm and together

Uniting their voices in:

La-la-la, li-li-li, la-li-lo-lu.

Carried along in the strength of their unity

they shouted together

precisely and rhythmically:

La-la-la, li-li-li, la-li-lo-lu.

 

"Now we live again.

Feel the force of the flow of the blood.

In your heads. In your necks. In your breasts.

In your stomachs. Throughout the rest of your bodies.

[See my fingers shaking with life

The blood is bong-bon-bong.

The blood of life is bang-bing-bong.

The blood of the common life is bang-bing-bong-bong.

Life must be lived in a noisy group.

Blood must mix with blood.

Bong-bong-bong. Bang-bing-bong."

 

The people exploded with the passion of the lives.

They stood on the pews.

Banged with their feet.

Bells, gongs, door-pailings, window panes

If it made a noise they pounded on it.

With the one rhythm

In accompaniment to their joyous shouts of:

Bong-bong-bong. Bang-bing-bong.

 

"We must exalt love.

Love in the long grass.

Love in the shops of jews.

Love in the backyard of the church.

Love is unity and tra-la-la.

Tra-la-la. La-la-la. Tra-la-la.

Like the grass

we must flourish

in unity and love.

Let us pulverize ourselves.

Let us shelter beneath the grass.

Let us love beneath the grass.

Taking as our guide:

Tra-la-la. La-la-la. Tra-la-la."

 

The whole congregation roared.

They began to dance. Following the one rhythm

They rubbed their bodies against each other

Men against women. Men against men.

Women with women. Everyone rubbed.

And some rubbed their bodies against the walls of the church.

And shouted in a queer mad voice

shrilly and together:

Tra-la-la. La-la-la. Tra-la-la.

 

"Through the holy prophet Moses

God has said:

Thou must not steal.

Junior civil servants stop stealing carbon.

Serving-girls stop stealing fried chicken bones.

Leaders stop stealing petro.

And girls, stop stealing your own virtue.

Of course, there is stealing and stealing.

The difference is: cha-cha-cha, cha-cha-cha.

All things come from God

which means

everything belongs to everyone.

Everything is for everyone.

We must be one. Us for us.

Cha-cha-cha, cha-cha-cha.

This is the guiding principle."

 

They roared like animals:

Grrr-grrr-grrr. Hura.

Cha-cha-cha, cha-cha-cha.

They stole window panes.

They took everything in the church.

The candelabra. The curtains. The carpets.

The silverware. And the statues covered with jewels.

Cha-cha-cha, they sang:

Cha-cha-cha over and over again

They smashed the whole church

Cha-cha-cha

Like wet panting animals

running to-and-fro.

Cha-cha-cha, cha-cha-cha.

Then suddenly the shrill voice of an old woman was heard:

"I am hungry. Hungrry. Hu-u-unggrryyy."

And suddenly everyone felt hungry.

Their eyes burned.

And they kept shouting cha-cha-cha.

 

"Because we are hungry

let us disperse.

Go home. Everyone stop."

 

Cha-cha-cha, they said

and their eyes burned.

 

"Go home.

The mass and the sermon are over."

 

Cha-cha-cha, they said.

They didn't stop.

They pressed forward.

The church was smashed. And their eyes flashed.

 

"Lord, Remember the sufferings of Christ.

We are all his honored sons.

Hunger must be overcome by wisdom."

 

Cha-cha-cha.

They advance and beat against the pulpit.

Cha-cha-cha.

They dragged the priest from the pulpit.

Cha-cha-cha.

They tore his robes.

Cha-cha-cha.

A Fat woman kissed his fine mouth.

And old woman licked his pure breast.

And girls pulled at both his legs.

Cha-cha-cha.

And thus they raped him in a noisy throng.

 

Cha-cha-cha.

Then they chopped his body to bits.

Everyone at his flesh. Cha-cha-cha.

They feasted in the strength of their unity.

They drank his blood.

They sucked the marrow from his bones.

Until they had eaten everything

and there was nothing left.

Fantastic.

 

Translated from the Bahasa Indonesia by Harry Aveling

 ______ 
Copyright ©by W. S. Rendra; English language copyright ©1975 by Harry Aveling Reprinted from Harry Aveling, ed. and trans. Contemporary Indonesia Poetry (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia: University of Queensland Press, 1975.