Sunday, January 25, 2009

Passing days

It's cold outside and I've been inside most of the time, working on Hinojosa translations, working on new poems, all to the good, I think. Yesterday read Toni Morrison's A Mercy which was very Toni Morrison--beautiful writing, interesting characters, nothing actually new except for the setting in the 17th century. But that in itself made for something to think about, the layers of slavery, indenture, freedom, the nature of a country before it is a country, the question of the spirit of a people before they are a people.

These ideas about being a people seem important these days. I think to the Democratic primaries and how I was always intrigued by Obama's use of we and our and Clinton's use of I and me and how I was drawn to that in Obama (note Frank Rich in the Times today talking about how in his inaugural speech Obama did not say fellow Americans but fellow citizens. This reminds me of how Dewey, when he talks about the role of education in American society is not to produce workers but citizens, people willing and hopeful of being a part of the democracy.

School starts tomorrow. Looking forward to the strange early chaos of the first days, never as fun as when the work is started but there is a newness. I know hardly any of the students in my intro poetry class and in my Poet in New York classes. So meeting and greeting. More on this, of course, as we go along.

And here's a poem:

Tú Quieres Saber

de pronto entiendo es una pregunta
y yo contesto nada

as in
suddenly I understand it is a question
and I answer nothing
the days are too streaky
running into each other
without good reasons
which is why memory always seems
so relevant and present
no difference between
a short time ago and
a long time ago
when I use one phrase
say, are we there?
I might as well have used the other
where are we?
even though
this seems to confuse
anyone I talk to
then I’m confused too
weren’t we just in Mexico
or Costa Rica
or Nicaragua
Colombia? Ecuador? Peru
didn’t we just drive to Nova Scotia
didn’t we talk
aren’t you dead
and you
and you
can I have another drink
aren’t I already drinking
así es: so it is
una cabeza llena de preguntas
a head full of questions
a month full of questions
hello, this is September
sometimes for thirty days
sometimes forever

abrazos a todos.



alexandre guardiola said...

I would like to know what do you think about Camões. Do you know his poetry?

Alexandre Guardiola

Mark Statman said...


No I don't know his work--is there something in particular you recommend?