Thursday, November 29, 2007

Another Poem from Celia Cruz


habia un milagro, she said,
a miracle
but in such a quiet voice
you had to ask her
to say it again
which she did
she didn’t like it like that
a voces (loud)
it didn’t seem as true anymore
she looked at you
it seemed just then
she must hate you
must hate anyone like you
she pointed down the road
curving, dusty
she said it was the way to the ruins
you didn’t know
if you wanted to go
you already knew
you wouldn’t see what she had

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Celia Cruz

Somebody asked so here it is, the title poem (sort of) to my new manuscript, Celia Cruz fue la voz tropical and Other Poems

Celia Cruz fue la voz tropical en mis sueños

in a dream once
the band arrived in New York
tired, out of sorts
a long road trip
bad weather, bad clubs, bad food
a bus that kept on breaking down
no one wants to play this night
except her
she sings
she always wants to sing
scent of sugar and sweat
of lips, fields, waist, sun
with a voice so like fire
everyone who hears it
wants to make love
and make love the most with her
I am everyone
from the nightclub floor
she points
and in sleep and dream
I follow
oye amor
the band plays, she sings
oye amor
I follow

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Weeks Ahead

So walking into too many different stores and they're all playing Christmas songs (can I get "Christmas in Killarney" out of my head?). I know some places were playing them before but now they seem everywhere and so the whole Christmas season starts which I suppose I don't mind. I like some of the bustle of it, the barber shop on 7th Avenue that has the running train and the skaters in a wintry setting, Union Square converted into a great outdoor bazaar. Of course Chanukah comes first, so there'll be lights and trees and it will all seem, well, like holidays. It will bring back memories and for another year, even though Jesse may feel he's too old (but Katherine and I are not) we'll read Night Tree by Eve Bunting and Ted Rand which I think is one of the best Christmas books ever (I remember once many years ago that Kenneth read it to Jesse before Jesse went to sleep and he came downstairs and talked about how wonderful and surprising it was as a book. Of course, it isn't Somebody Spilled the Sky by Ruth Krauss, but that's just on another level.

It all means that the semester is also rushing to a close and I'm worried if we'll get to everything I'd hoped. Not with my writing fellows students, who seem on track, nor my Poet in New York students who seem the same, but my Intro to Poetry students. I think I always feel this way, though, and then it gets done. My mind is already drifting to next semester and teaching Spanish Surrealism and Advanced Poetry, both for the first time. It will be an interesting spring, after all, with new classes and a new book (and hopes that Celia Cruz will find a publisher.

What to do for Christmas break? Travel? Stay home and ready for the spring? "Oh must we dream our dreams and have them too?" (Elizabeth Bishop).


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Oh Thanksgiving

Long time between posts with so much going on. Karen has been sick (in the hospital) and while I've made a few visits, Katherine has been the person to really help out. Karen is home now, somewhat better but not very happy. The recovery is always slow but a ton of people have been going to visit her (including Katherine) so hopefully that helps. I would be, but I've been fighting some sort of bug that seems to have been going around Lang and the last thing I want to do is give her anything that would hurt her recovery.

Thanksgiving dinner was sweet and low-key. The Wednesday before I marinated the turkey Cuban style in lime, cumin, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper, sliding it all in under the skin (between flesh and skin). Not easy, so you don't tear it. Pablo tells me this is how his mother made it, except she used to stuff the bird with rice and beans--I just put in more of the marinade. Katherine made a cranberry and orange sauce and a pumpkin pie and all in all it was a nice meal. Since then it's been turkey sandwiches and today I made a stock and used some of it for a turkey/leek/potato soup. rica!

This has been a real Lorca week for me, looking at lots of student critical writing on Poet in New York, on their poetic responses to Poet in New York. Some of the work has been quite good, interesting responses to In the Farmer's Cabin and Introduction to Death. These are important points in the book and many of the students seemed to really see the changes in the character of the poet as he readies himself to return to New York. This coming week we'll look at the two Odes, for me the dramatic high point of the book (the text we'll read with it is "Howl."

So, some writing, some reading (went a little bit into Luis de Gongora, who I've only looked at a little and should know better but he's always been just a little outside my period range, but so contemporary in many ways). There are some new links on this blog that I like a lot so I hope folks will check them out too.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Events for Poet in New York are beginning to schedule

Okay, so far what I know is that there will be a book party at the New School sponsored by Lang Writing on either Thursday, January 30 or Friday, February 1 during AWP. More on this when the date is firm.

The Poetry Project will have an event for the book on Wednesday, March 26 at 8 PM. Scheduled readers include Ron Padgett, Jaime Manrique, Bill Zavatsky, Jane Lecroy, Pablo, and myself.

The Brooklyn Public Library will have an event on Sunday, April 27 at 4 PM..

We have a tentative date of Thursday, February 21, 7 PM at City Lights (San Francisco). This should be confirmed in the next day or so.

Anyone out there looking to book myself or Pablo, just give send the word!

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Few Things

Hectic week. Monday at the ICP reading, Wednesday a book party for Arthur Goldwag's new book, 'Isms and "Ologies which is quite good, like Arthur very smart, witty, a good read. The same night a terrific reading at the Poetry Project. Suzy Timmons read some wonderful work and Ron Padgett read from his new book, How to Be Perfect (Coffee House), and then two new poems for his grandson, Marcello. The church was packed and it was nice to see a lot of old friends. I feel like I don't get to readings there or anywhere as much as I'd like (Ii'm really tickedoff at myself for missing the Alice Notley reading last week) but life has this way of invading. Because aside from these events, it's been all about teaching, writing (a little) and falling asleep exhausted, waking up exhausted. The life.

Monday, November 12, 2007

long time away

Okay, so a lot has gone on since the last time I made an entry. I guess I need to get better at simply blogging on a daily basis but that isn't my habit. I guess if I have the choice of writing a poem or writing on a blog I'd rather work on a poem.

But I am just back from the ALTA conference in Dallas and it was really more than I expected. Good conversations with Stephen Kessler about translating in general, about Lorca in particular. He's a good poet (been reading his book After Modigliani, some nice stuff, check it out on Creative Arts Press) but he's also done some important translations, a selected Cortazar with City Lights and Cernuda's prose poems.

Also saw C.M. Mayo (her blog is Madame Mayo and should be looked at) who, like Stephen came to the panel I was on on translation and collaboration and is a wonderful translator. Other folks I got to spend good time with were Alexis Levitin, Aliki Barnstone, Douglas Unger, Esther Allen. Alexis and I were walking along, ran into Gregory Rabassa and Willis Barnstone and Alexis had to race off and I had a good 25 minute conversation with these two about Garcia Lorca that made the whole conference in itself worth it.

But that seemed to be the strength of the conference: conversation. I went to a number of panels, bi-lingual readings, but it was really something to just sit and talk with people whose appreciation for literature matched my own. I've felt humbled often by the privilege of translating Poet in New York, given how little translating I've done compared with some of these other folks (maybe that made me naive enough to not realize what I was getting into--why others have not done it). But I had no sense from anyone other than support, that they were as excited about this as I was.

So the work will go on. People have been writing and commenting on the translations in APR. Thank you. Some comments at ALTA about the ones in Subtropics.

And I've even been getting more of my own poetry written, which is hard given all the Lorca work. Tonight I went to a reading at ICP which was tied into the current exhbit on photos of the Spanish Civil War. Phillip Levine read from Orwell, as did one of the other readers but for me the highlight was Monica de la Torre reading from Cernuda and Guillen (too often forgotten from the Generation of 27) and Margo Jefferson (Lang colleague) read two Neruda poems inspired (?) by the murder of Lorca (whose assasination Willis Barnstone had an interesting take on, which Margo and I talked about and has appeared in the writing of Jaime Manrique--that Lorca was murdered because he was gay, for no other reason, and that he was shot from behind and up his backside).

In the days to come I plan on posting links to sites I like--not sure how to do this so anyone out there who knows, give a helpful holler.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

long sunday

A lot of time spent with student work, good short critical responses to Lorca, good and interesting poems responding to same. It's time consuming but important work.

The local farmer's market actually had fresh poblano peppers! A few weeks ago they said there'd be no more for the season (I've been making chiles relllenos as our Sunday dinner for a good part of September and October, playing with different fillings). But Jesse and I walked over this early afternoon, wonderful fall day, and there they were, a little small, but just right anyway. The day went long and so I won't make them until tomorrow. But that will be fun. They are a lot of work but worth the time (the charring/sweating process can be tedious, so you need some good music and a drink). Looking at a ground beef, black bean, garlic, onion, tomato, sliced steak, various spices filling.

The Lorca heirs were satisfied with our responses to their questions. Too much slow down on production of book may be avoided. Hope so. But the Medina/Statman translation of Poet in New York should be out in January, which was always the plan. I fear the pre-Christmas appearance that was promised may not happen. Reviewers can contact me through this blog and let me know if they haven't received review copies by mid December.

Okay, Bama lost. But it was a good game. That fumble on the sack was a killer.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Lorca all day long

Spent most of today working on the responses/questions of the Lorca family, sending them to Pablo, getting his response to my response, then getting back to him so he could send it off to Sr. Montesinos along with a note thanking him and telling him how much we've appreciated working on the book. A lot of work, but worth it.

Half-time Alabama 20, LSU 17. Roll Tide.

(I've been asked why I'm a Tide fan--I actually have no idea but it's been for so many years--and for some reason I'm partial to the SEC in general. Really messes me up during March when I make my brackets and go for the teams I hope will win over the teams I know will win).

but listening to Ruben Blades makes it worthwhile


dealing wih a lot of late e-mail, some wonderful and some disappointing, comments to follow in blogs to follow, listening to old Ruben Blades cds (Buscando America) this is making me feel happy. So who cares.
abrazos amigos


Friday, November 2, 2007

okay, it's been a few hectic days

Finally got to see the new APR and really like the way it looks--they have us listed on the cover and the poems read well. APR generously sent me a whole bunch that I can bring to the ALTA (American Literary Translators Association) conference next week in Dallas and Grove has made up the cards for the book, so I'll begin doing the book promo for real next week.

As for the book, the Lorca heirs have sent in some questions and Pablo and I have been working the last few days to answer them. Some make some real sense and some don't, but it's been interesting to get the take from the family on the work that we've been doing. Their questions may slow down production, but the book will still be a January pub--review copies will be a little latrer than expected (and there may be no copies in time for Christmas).

Managing the world: this is a hard teaching semester for me--teaching 3 sections on Poet in New York (as a reading/creative writing course) a sectrion of writing fellows (these four are all 2 credit, but they take up a lot of energy) and a regular 4 credit intro poetry writing class. Normally today (Friday) is a day I'd have to take a breath but I went to an all-day technology conference that was pretty exciting. The real problem is trying to figure out how to make it all fit into the kind of teaching I do. Blogs actually figure into it (have to figure out how). There was some interesting technology that I think might come in handy for a course I'm teaching next semester on Spanisg Surrealism (the big focus will be from the generation of 27 untuil 1938, though there will be some before--French surrealism, etc, and I'll try and focus on Lorca, Bunuel, Dali, and Miro--I'm still working it out in my head and asking folks for advice). The multi-media stuff will be interesting to work with. I can see maps of Spain with Miro paintings and Bunuel shots emerging out of a Google earth. How this all fits into teaching I've no idea, but I like the imagery.

Tomorow Alabama and LSU. That's a big one for the SEC fan in all of us.