Thursday, August 30, 2018

Carilda Oliver / Eve's Discourse

Eve's Discourse 
by Carilda Oliver Labra
Translated by Daniela Gioseffi 

Carilda Oliver / Discurso de Eva

Today, I brutally greet you
with a grunt
or a kick.
Where are you hiding,
where have you fled with your wild box
full of hearts,
and your stream of gunpowder?
Where are you now;
in the ditch where all dreams are finally tossed,
or in the jungle's spidery web
where fatherless children dangle?

I miss you,
you know I do-
as myself
or the miracles that never happen-
you know I do?
I'd like to entice you with a joy I've never known,
an imprudent affair.

When will you come to me?
I'm anxious to play no games,
to confide to you: 'my life'-
to let thunder humble us
to let oranges pale in your hand.
I want to search your depths
and find veils
and smoke,
that will vanish at last in flame.

I love you truly
but innocently
as the transparent enchantress of my thoughts,
but, truly, I don't love you,
though innocently
as the confused angel that I am.
I love you,
but I don't love you.
I gamble with these words
and the winner shall be the liar.
Love!. . .
(What am I saying? I'm mistaken,
because here, I wanted to write, I hate you.)
Why won't you come to me?

How is it possible
you let me pass by without requiting our fire?
How is it possible you're so distant, so paranoid
that you deny me?
You're reading the newspapers
passing through
and life.
You're with your problems
of groans and groin,
entertaining yourself with an aspiration to mourning.
Even though I'm melting you,
even though I insult you,
bring you a wilted hyacinth
approve your melancholy;
call forth the salt of heaven,
stitch you into being:
When are you going to murder me with your spit,
When are you going to overwhelm me again beneath the rain?
When are you going to call me your little bird,
your whore?
When are you going to profane me?
Beware time that passes,
Not even your ghosts appear to me now,
and I no longer understand umbrellas?
Every day, I become more honest with myself,
magnificently noble. . .
If you delay,
if you hesitate and don't search for me,
you'll be blinded;
if you don't return now,
infidel, idiot, dummy, fool,
I'll count myself nothing.

Yesterday, I dreamt that while we were kissing,
a shooting star exploded
and neither of us gave up hope.

This love of ours
belongs to no one;
We found it lost,
in the street.
Between us we saved it, sheltered it.
Because of that, when we swallow each other
in the night,
I feel like a frightened mother left
It doesn't matter,
kiss me again and over again
to come to me.
Press yourself against my waist,
come to me again;
be my warm animal again,
move me, again.
I'll purify my leftover life,
the lives of condemned children.

We'll sleep like murderers
who've saved themselves
by bonding together in incomparable blossoming.
And in the morning when the rooster crows,
we will be nature, herself.
I'll appear like your child asleep in her cradle.

Come back to me, come back,
penetrate me with lightening,
Bend me to your will.
We'll turn the record player on forever.
Bring me that unfaithful nape of your neck,
the blow of your stone.
Show me I haven't died,
my love, and I promise you the apple.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Carilda Oliver / I Go Crazy

I Go Crazy 

by Carilda Oliver Labra

I go crazy, my love, I go crazy
when I go in your mouth, delayed;
and almost without wanting, almost for nothing
I touch you with the point of my breast.

I touch you with the tip of my breast
and with my abandoned solitude;
and perhaps without being enamored;
I go crazy, my love, I go crazy.

And my luck of the prized fruit
burns in your salacious and turbid hand
like a bad promise of venom;

though I want to kiss you kneeling,
When I go in your mouth, delayed
I go crazy, my love, I go crazy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Anna Swir / Happy as a dog´s tail

Happy as a dog’s tail
by Anna Swir
Translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan 
Happy as something unimportant
and free as a thing unimportant.
As something no one prizes
and which does not prize itself.
As something mocked by all
and which mocks at their mockery.
As laughter without serious reason.
As a yell able to out yell itself.
Happy as no matter what,
as any no matter what.
as a dog’s tail.

Talking to My Body (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1996)

Sunday, August 26, 2018

From Poetry to Songs / Hare, Rabbit and Sirens in Apollinaire’s Bestiary

From Poetry to Songs: Hare, Rabbit and Sirens in Apollinaire’s Bestiary

19 NOVEMBER 2015
Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) moved to Paris and started publishing poems, articles and art reviews in the 1900s. He was close to artists like Pablo Picasso, André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck or le Douanier Rousseau. In 1911, he published a deluxe edition of his Bestiaire, in 120 copies, composed of 30 poems illustrated with engravings by Raoul Dufy. 18 of these poems had previously appeared in 1908 in the journal La Phalange, under the title ‘La marchande des quatre saisons ou le Bestiaire mondain’.
Mediaeval interest in bestiaries often resided less in the naturalistic and physical descriptions of the animals and their behaviour, often fanciful, than on their symbolic and allegorical level. Although Apollinaire does not put the emphasis on the didactic aspect of the bestiary, his work is infused with both Classical and Biblical or religious references. The poet, who chose his pseudonym after Apollo, God of Music and Poetry, gave his 1911 Bestiary, the subtitle ‘Cortege d’Orphée’. The collection of poems is introduced and guided by the character of Orpheus, emblem of the poet himself, who addresses directly the reader, drawing his attention to the text, the images, and the animals, in four poems introducing and accompanying the collection. The poet plays on the concept of the animal series and on the combination of text and engravings. He accentuates the brevity of each entry, as each poem is only formed of a quatrain.
The Hare, from Guillaume Apollinaire, Le bestiaire, ou Cortège d’Orphée, illustrated with woodcuts by Raoul Dufy (New York, 1977), British Library LR.430.e.10
In medieval bestiaries, and at least since Isidore of Seville, the hare is characterised by its velocity, associated with timidity and fearfulness, while the rabbit is known both for its fertility and the fact that it is hunted by dogs. In Raoul Dufy’s engraving, a hare bouncing in an open field appears encircled in a medallion formed by a horn, while the frame is completed with gun and whip and with two hunting dogs. In Apollinaire’s poem, both the hare and the rabbit are associated with love, sexual intercourse and fertility. The poem is formulated as an advice to the reader, who should not be like the hare and the lover, both ‘lascif[s] et peureux’, but should aim to reach the fertility and productivity of the doe, transposed in the field of imagination and intellectual creativity: ‘Mais que toujours ton cerveau soit / La hase pleine qui concoit’.
As for the rabbit, it is presented by Apollinaire as a symbol for the beloved, and the archaic or literary use of the French word  ‘connin’ for rabbit, reminds us of the medieval association of the animal with the female organ (‘con’), in the context of the love chase, an aspect often playfully illustrated in manuscript marginalia (as in this example).
3Carte_du_tendre_300dpiFrançois Chauveau, ‘Carte du Tendre’,  from Madeleine de Scudéry, Clélie, Histoire romaine, première partie (Paris 1654) Paris, BNF, Cartes et Plans, GE F PIECE- 11777
The use of allegory in the bestiary is reinforced in ‘Le Lapin’ by Apollinaire’s reference to the 17th century engraving of the ‘Carte du Tendre’. In La Clélie, a romantic novel by Madame de Scudéry, this allegorical map provides a topographical representation of the country or journey of love with all its delights and pitfalls. In the 1911 Bestiaire, Dufy’s engraving shows the rabbit in front of a peaceful hilly countryside with plants and trees and a church in the background (below).
The only imaginary creature retained by Apollinaire is the siren, actually presented as a group: ‘les Sirènes’. They are preceded by a representation of Orpheus accompanied by a warning against flying Sirens (‘volantes Sirènes’, ‘oiseaux maudits’) and their deadly songs. In antiquity, they were half women half birds, reputed to charm sailors with their songs and lull them into sleep before killing them, but in the middle ages, sirens also started to be depicted and pictured as women with a fish tail.
  5Sloane 278 f.47 sirenlg
Mediaeval Siren and Onocentaur (man/donkey hybrid), Bestiary,  British Library MS Sloane 278. f. 147
The chant of Apollinaire’s Sirens can be contrasted with that of the poet, whose love and song has the power to raise Eurydice from the dead, or that of the pure and sexless angels in Paradise.  In both the Orpheus and the Sirens’ engravings, the sirens bear female heads and breasts, but also wings and lion arms, their body ending in a tripartite fish tail in the second engraving. This maritime aspect is highlighted in the corresponding poem, where the enticing song of the temptresses gives way to wails founded in tediousness (‘ennui’).

Sirens from Apollinaire's Bestiaire
The position of the poet himself becomes ambiguous when his identification with Orpheus leads to an association with the sirens, as he depicts himself as the sea, full of ‘vaissaux chantants’ and ‘voix machinées’, in a curious conflagration of the tricky and enticing sirens and the ships and crews which become their victims. While in Orpheus’ poem, death was associated with the sirens’ songs, in the sirens’ verses, age may account for the voices haunting the poet’s mind, and his experience may be related to the use and mastery of crafty devices in the range of his poetical work.

Orpheus from Apollinaire’s Bestiaire
After the First World War, without consultation, both Louis Durey  and Francis Poulenc, members of the Groupe des six  (a group of composers close to the poetic avant-garde circles, Jean Cocteau in particular) set Apollinaire’s Bestiaire  to music. In 1919, Durey produced melodies for song and piano for the 26 animal poems of the Bestiaire (Music Collections G.1270.b.(16.)), while the four Orpheus sections remained spoken. A later version, produced in 1958, is set for voice and orchestra. Poulenc set 12 of Apollinaire’s poems to music, although following Georges Auric’s advice, he finally retained only six of them: Le Dromadaire, La Chèvre du Tibet, La Sauterelle, Le Dauphin, L’Ecrevisse and La Carpe, a work which gave him notoriety and had a long lasting success (Music Collections H.1846.kk.(2.)).
Record sleeve showing Le groupe des six (Le chant du monde, 1968); the recording includes Poulenc’s
 Bestiaire, sung by Irène Joachim
Later musical adaptations include Claude Ballif’s  30 poems for soprano or baritone and piano (1945-1948), Jean Absil’s Cinq petites pièces pour quatuor vocal mixte (1964), Alan Mills’ 6 poems for baritone and piano (1985) , John Carbon’s 3 poems for soprano, horn, cello and piano (2002), and Régis Campo’s 11 poems for soprano and orchestra (2008). The British Library Sound Archiveholds many audio recordings of Poulenc’s songs (from the ‘Groupe des six’ to contemporary adaptations), several recordings of Durey’s Bestiaire and one of Absil’s, recorded by the Chorale universitaire de Grenoble, which can be listened to in the British Library Reading Rooms.
Irène Fabry-Tehranchi, Curator, Romance Collections
References / further reading
Francis Steegmuller, Apollinaire: Poet among the Painters (London, 1963).
David Badke, The Medieval Bestiary: Animals in the Middle Ages  (online resource)
Debra Hassig, Medieval Bestiaries: Text, Image, Ideology (Cambridge, 1995). YC.1996.b.2164
Christian Heck and Cordonnier Rémy. Le bestiaire médiéval : l'animal dans les manuscrits enluminés (Paris, 2011) LF.31.b.9154
Francis Klingender, Animals in Art and Thought to the End of the Middle Ages, ed. by Evelyn Antal and John Harthan (London, 1971). X.322/1206.
L'humain et l'animal dans la France médiévale (XIIe-XVe s.) = Human and animal in medieval France (12th-15th c.), sous la direction d'Irène Fabry-Tehranchi et Anna Russakoff. (Amsterdam, 2014)  YF.2014.a.22449

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Goodbye To Former Boston Poet Laureate Sam Cornish


Sam Cornish reads at the Gloucester Writers Center in Gloucester, Massachusetts, June 29, 2016. (Greg Cook)
Sam Cornish reads at the Gloucester Writers Center in Gloucester, Massachusetts, June 29, 2016. (Greg Cook)

Goodbye To Former Boston Poet Laureate Sam Cornish

August 22, 2018

Sorry to hear about the passing of Sam Cornish, who was Boston’s Poet Laureate from 2008 to 2015. He died on Aug. 20 at age 82.

“As a black writer there may have been anger in the book. It was not an anger directed at White America. It attempted to describe living in an America that is black and white, and all the other things that go with it,” he told Doug Holder in 2011 about his 1971 poetry collection “Generations.” “The book is arranged like most of my books are: from past to present. It begins with a slave funeral and it ends with a sense of Apocalypse. The history comes from things I heard from home, and things I picked up from the neighborhoods, not to mention popular culture.”

I photographed Cornish when he read at the Gloucester Writers Center in Gloucester, Massachusetts, on June 29, 2016. You can listen to the whole talk here.


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Hélène Cardona / Woodwork

Earth in Pain
Andrea Banjac

by Hélène Cardona 

If I could gather all the sadness of the world,
all the sadness inside me
into a gourd,
I’d shake it once in a while
and let it sing,
let it remind me of who I used to be,
bless it for what it taught me
and stare at it lovingly
for not seeping out of its container.

Hélène Cardona 
Life in Suspension
Salmon Poetry, 2016

Friday, August 10, 2018

A life in poetry / Jorie Graham / ‘I am living in the late season, but it has its songs, too’

Jorie Graham … nothing is out of bounds. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

Jorie Graham: ‘I am living in the late season, but it has its songs, too’

The Pulitzer-winning poet on mortality, makeup and capturing life’s complexity

Friday 1 December 2017 12.00 GMT

he last lines of the last poem in Jorie Graham’s most recent collection, FAST, imagine dawn giving way to day: “Leaving / grackle and crow in the sun – they have / known what to find in the unmade / undrawn unseen unmarked and / dragged it into here – that it be / visible” – which is as good a way as any of summing up what Graham has tried to do ever since she began writing poems: to look hard at the world around her, especially the natural world, but also at the hard questions – what does it all mean and what is it all for? To stay as open as possible in order to catch whatever answer there might be unawares, and hold it up to the light.
Nothing is out of bounds – geese, laundry, erosion, materialism, psychiatric wards, sex, Plato (she is not a fan), Heidegger, bots, relativity, the Holocaust, Genesis, classical mythology, Genesis, “the moral pleasure / of experiencing the distance between subject and object”, water (always water). Now, in FAST, her subject is mortality – her own (she was diagnosed with cancer five years ago), her parents’, that of intellect and culture (in dementia, in digital overwhelm), that of the planet. It is a collection of sensual poems so urgent that, by the end, they have abandoned traditional beginnings and are physically bunched up on the right-hand side of the page. And through it all, an unwavering, serious belief in the power of poetry, a repeatedly inhabited rejection of Auden’s assertion that poetry makes nothing happen.
Some of this – whose lines fragment across the page into single words or abrupt phrases that fail to reach across silence, bumping loving endearments up against the idea of atoms, of “infinite smallness / * / which occasions incorruption or immortality” – has earned her, in some quarters, a reputation for difficulty, for writing “unintelligible” poetry “deliberately intended to frustrate the reader”, according to the critic Adam Kirsch. A review in the New York Times of Overlord(2005), entitled “Jorie Graham, Superstar”, called it poetry to soothe “the art form’s nagging status anxiety (anything involving this much Heidegger must be important) … there’s always been something strangely bleary in Graham’s writing – as if she’s just noticed something interesting and motioned the reader over, only to stand in his light, blocking his view with her own viewing.”
“People who approach poetry expecting the reading habits they use for prose to function are going to require a kind of poetry that is essentially prose broken into lines; a dramatic monologue of a certain kind, with an autobiographical feel,” says Graham. There are great proponents of this form, she adds: Sharon Olds, for instance, or Philip Levine. “If you know how to read novels, you know how to read their poems – although that’s an illusion, because you don’t, really, but at least you have the illusion that they’re not resistant to you.”

Graham, who won a Pulitzer in 1996 for her selected poems 1974-1994, The Dream of the Unified Field, is currently Boylston professor of rhetoric and oratory at Harvard, a post first held by John Quincy Adams into which she followed Seamus Heaney and in which she was the first woman. She is grand and glamorous, aware of her glamour, but also warmly approachable, a virtuosic talker, whose sentences – veering off in multiple directions, but somehow still holding their thread – create a conspiratorial, generous space and control it, not least because it is not always easy to get a word in edgeways (although, once you do, her listening is disconcertingly acute). “Eliot is an example of someone who says, in The Waste Land, ‘suspend the desires of the conceptual intellect – the desire to know who’s speaking, where you are, what they’re about – and read with your ear, read with your body’. If you’re not reading with the part that’s asking for a confession, but with your ability to associate, your intuition, your sense that this moves by analogy to that – you’re familiar with surrealism, symbolism, modernism, you understand that, as in film, things can be adjacent and the adjacency creates a glow of meaning – then you have no problem, because you’re not asking a poem to be a single individual narrative telling you about a life,” she says.
Much has always been made of Graham’s life, especially the early years: she was born in New York City in 1950, to a mother who was a visual artist, but grew up in Italy, where, because her father was a journalist, “the Rome bureau of Newsweek was in the two rooms next to my bedroom”, as she told the Paris Review in 2003. “Painters, film-makers, war photographers, novelists, socialites, philosophers, politicians, rock stars, prelates, starlets – the whole mess of it – floated through our house.” Her first typewriter was “an Olivetti portable with a bullet hole in it” (her father had used it in Sinai, Egypt); the parties that went on downstairs were attended by a who’s who of la dolce vita. But she insists now that, because Americans are “so provincial”, their perceptions of her youth are overdone. She says her family was never well off – “they were surviving from one sale of my mother’s work to another”, while the “castle” in Umbria to which they eventually moved, “had pigs living in it; my mother rebuilt it” – and that she was a child, and then a teenager, “having all the social problems you have at that age”.
What she did do was listen to her parents’ guests and the ways in which they related to each other; to Italian, the language of her childhood, and then to French, when she attended a lycée (her first poetry was in French). And she imagined: the layers of history on which their house sat, for instance, working her way back from modern Rome through to Romulus and Remus on an Etruscan hillside; or, after her class was sent to Florence to help in the rescue effort after a flood and she reached into the muddy water to pull out what turned out to be a gold-illuminated medieval manuscript, to simultaneous histories and competing voices.

She is struck by the fact that, in mainland Europe, where she has been much translated, “cultures where a massive amount of poetry is read by a lot of the population,” she is not thought of as difficult. “When I began, poetry was taught in the schools and, at all ages, people recited it,” she says. These days, she adds an hour to each class she teaches, purely for the purpose of memorising poems, fighting against the fact that “now we live in a world where people read the synopsis and one chapter of a novel if you’re lucky”. She points out that, although she provides poems from across written time and from many cultures, her students, even those who have strong political objections to the dead white male canon, almost always end up learning poems from a small pool: Eliot, Yeats, Hopkins, Wallace Stevens. “If they’re going to recite it in their mouths, their throats, everything that is their instrument, their personal lyre, they want the sound of that music.”
In 1968, she went to the Sorbonne to study philosophy. The student leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit was her classmate; she joined in the protests that erupted that May and was arrested. In “The Hiding Place” (Region of Unlikeness), she writes of being in a cell so crowded that “I felt a girl / vomiting gently onto my back”.
Foreign students were sent home, so she found herself studying film in New York, partly because images were a universal language and her English was patchy. These days, she sounds American, but those first 20‑odd years create a clear and generative distance, that “if this is the vantage point” – she points to a space just behind her eyes – “you also have this one” – pointing to another space further back – “or this one. I’ve always felt like a bit of a voyeur in America.” Her great fear, when her mother dies, is that the link with Italy, with Europe, will be broken and “then I will be just an American. I won’t know what to do.”
Graham came to poetry in an oft-rehearsed Damascene moment, when, lost in the campus at NYU, she walked past a classroom and heard a voice reading what turned out to be “The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock” (although she has less frequently pointed out that she was lost because she had been at a dinner party the night before and someone had put pot in the food), felt Eliot’s music and “thought: I could learn English this way”. Eliot still tolls through her work like an undersea bell: in FAST, human voices join inhuman voices and intelligences – the sea floor, bots, a medium (Madame Sosostris? “Yes, Madame Sosostris”), chemicals, 3D printers – in what becomes a kind of Waste Land for the digital age. (Unlike the “human voices wake us, and we drown” of “Prufrock”, however, Graham’s aim is to be awake – as awake as possible.) Dashes, used liberally in her work, are here joined by arrows, adding to the hurtling sensation of reading the collection, its anxiety and urgency.
She married, briefly, then was married again, to Bill Graham, son of Katherine and Philip Graham, who owned Newsweek and the Washington Post. Ted Kennedyand Robert McNamara were at her wedding; the details of Watergate were thrashed out around their dining room tables. She has said that those years in Washington “allowed me to see how fragile the instinct to do the right – or generous – thing is, what forces it is up against, how unmonolithic those forces are, how much they are, instead, a composite of human fears, human blindness, well-intentioned moral clumsiness. That was scary. But I was privileged, there in those historic moments, to witness, up close, a few rare souls act with truly astonishing bravery. And there’s no doubt that watching a ‘rough draft of history’ weave itself out of small daily acts affected my work.” She was often away, however, at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, writing; when her marriage to Graham came apart she moved to Iowa full time, meeting a fellow poet, James Galvin, and, eventually, after many miscarriages, giving birth to a daughter, Emily. She has a story she tells, wryly, that gives a real sense of the person she was then, of being rushed to hospital in an ambulance during yet another miscarriage, because of fears that she was suffering a pulmonary embolism. “All I could think about was Yeats’s idea of the self and the soul, the immortality of the soul, and did I believe it – I just wanted to make sure if I knew whether I believed it, in case I became unconscious. When I came out of it, I thought: ‘I think I must be really committed to this poetry stuff.’” In much-anthologised poem “Wanting a Child”, only the title makes it clear that this is its subject. It begins: “How hard it is for the river here to re-enter / the sea, though it’s most beautiful, of course, in the waste of time where it’s almost / turned back.” When Emily was small, they spent long summers in Wyoming, far from the city, chopping wood, riding, using an outhouse, watching geese fly over as she put out the laundry, where “we live beneath these geese / as if beneath the passage of time”. This becomes a meditation on the relationship between body and soul, where body is “an arrival / you know is false but can’t outrun”.
She has always been wary of writing about her daughter, doing it instead as double self-portraits (as Apollo and Daphne, as Hurry and Delay) – to catch at the way she felt doubled in pregnancy – or, more directly, in an extraordinary poem, “The Dream of the Unified Field”, where, returning to drop off a forgotten leotard, she finds herself looking into a window from the dark outside, watching her daughter dancing, imagining the first arrival of white explorers on that same land, the simultaneity of time passing.
“What interests me about poetry as a medium is that it tends to make reality – that we in many ways oversimplify in order to survive it – as complex as it needs to be again, as filled with contradiction as it needs to be,” she says now. After 9/11, she and a few other poets went around the country giving readings. Anyone who had a complex response – Susan Sontag, for instance, who suggested that, whatever else you thought of the pilots, they weren’t cowards – was being vociferously attacked, “so part of what we were able to do with the poems was to say, ‘You can feel this way and that. You can feel rage and curiosity and some form of … respect – and horror about the same event and your soul is only going to be the larger for it.’”

In 2015, reviewing Graham’s From the New World: Poems 1976-2014 for the New York Times, the critic Craig Morgan Teicher came to the conclusion that some of the tenor of criticism she had received came from the “same old, ugly, entrenched reasons: fellow poets, critics, even readers are threatened by Jorie Graham because she is brilliant, difficult, confrontational, empowered and visionary. Most of all, she has not let the fact that she is a woman dim or compromise any of these qualities.” Graham notes that she didn’t realise, until 20 years into her career, that people were having these issues. “When I was young, I never felt beautiful, but when I look at the pictures, I think: ‘Oh, shit, she really was beautiful’. I didn’t hide in the way I probably should have – I never tied my hair back – but, you know, I was an Italian. So, I wore makeup and I wore jewellery and, if there was anything that was an affront, it was that a woman was performing her womanhood like that. I think that was a very un-American way to be.”
FAST opens with a quote from Browning: “Then the good minute goes. / Already how am I so far / Out of that minute?” It comes not only late in her career and in her life, a gathering for which she feels she has been preparing always – “You haveto be ready for the late work. Make sure you develop a toolkit that’s wide enough for every middle stage and especially for the end” – but also is imbued, through and through with a feeling of “too-lateness”: we meet her father as a body, after he has died; that last poem begins with her mother’s hands drawing her in the air but is also about her mother having disappeared into dementia; we are almost too late climatically, perhaps too late in terms of “what we’ve done, digitally, to a generation”.
“I am living in the late season,” says Graham, but “but it has its songs, too. I have to find what they are. I wouldn’t be writing the poems if I didn’t think they were leading to a kind of consciousness that would allow one to become more fully awake, even in this period which is trying everything it can to shut one down.” Making things visible, looking, feeling – “they are my form of resistance”.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Anna Swir / I knocked my head against the wall

Female Reclining Nude
by Joe Hendry


by Anna Swir

As a child
I put my finger in the fire
to become
a saint.

As a teenager
every day I would knock my head against the wall.

As a young girl
I went out through a window of a garret
to the roof
in order to jump.

As a woman
I had lice all over my body.
They cracked when I was ironing my sweater.

I waited sixty minutes
to be executed.
I was hungry for six years.

Then I bore a child,
they were carving me
without putting me to sleep.

Then a thunderbolt killed me
three times and I had to rise from the dead three times
without anyone’s help.

Now I am resting
after three resurrections.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Anna Swir / Kill me


by Anna Swir

Do not kiss me, my love.
Do not hold me, my love.
If you love me, my love,
kill me.