POESÍA PERUANA / POETS FROM PERU: JULIA WONG KCOMT 

Julia Wong Kcomt

THE RED ROOSTER

For Wata, in memoriam

Peru dies.
Like garlic bulbs
this whim of blouses
cut so masterfully.
The iron windows.
Baroque.
Relentless.
The paint staining my ovaries.

Sushi is now the language
of the people
and my mighty noodles
wait in a forgotten pot.

Papá told me to detest the Japanese
like everyone says to hate Chileans.
But with so much love,
I find no difference
between the cherry tree, the sakura, the lotus flower, and the olive bush:
In the Atacama, Christ sifts
through red grape seeds.

Peru dies, Wata,
and all I remember is what you said about my aunt:
“She was hot, your aunt Carmen,
she didn’t look Chinese.”
I smiled unoffended, because in Peru nobody
looks like anything.

There was a chifa restaurant.

You ate wonton soup
with your Chinese friends,
and as we searched for an emblem
to overcome the centimeter and a half of
difference in our eyelids,
a red rooster
loosed a sound louder than nothingness.

Our Peru is dying.
The rooster will sing again when the stone flies.

BEHIND MOUNT FRIGHT

I was waiting for our strange love, for you to tuck scales in your pockets,
and slit my indigos with scalpels.
A surgeon of doubt is a good man, I’ve lied:
I never wanted a family, or a house.
I longed, a little, for a dialogue with the unknown,
I would like for you to perform amputations
on the corner of desperation,
for you to slay the faun spying on us, here
between rooted moons and salads of hypnotized
radishes.
The bottle of Cusqueña is unchilled and will not inebriate.
Fear in every step draws me toward your voice.
Yes,
your voice exists, here,
in the damp garden of wireless valleys.
I bump into clouds, couches, the Chinese chest that survived shipwreck
and the invasion of Nanjing.
No embroidered skirts, or limes that bleed.
Argentine masks hide their devotion to the black spirits of the sea.
00000The moth-eaten blouse of a father opening and closing his mouth like a frog,
old now, blind now, and thus loving…
His finger pointing.
An ear of corn brought from Cajamarca, desiccated.
What neverending vice makes you master of our fear?
Turn the lever and descend till you take pity on my fright.
Do not attempt to shuck the absurd flower of my doubts about the Fatherland.
We’ll celebrate over the graves, you’ll see,
that death brings sadness is another lie.
It’s just a matter of adjusting.
Spectating, a task that goes hand in hand with your eloquence
The rectangular voice of a TV reporter bakes petals and sprigs into stone,
to seduce children with no serpents or bumper cars.
You are a gilded man full of fear.
We crank the gramophone and pay to watch you cry.

OPHELIA


“And keep you in the rear of your affection,
Out of the shot and danger of desire.
The chariest maid is prodigal enough,
If she unmask her beauty to the moon”

(Laertes to Ophelia)

THE WIDOWER

There, dead, lie I beneath the wheels/ no one could clench a doubt against you.
Me, poor, brown, coal for your skin/ You, the kingdom’s raptor.
Me daughter of the commoners’ ossuary, on Calle Guadalupe,
wa-dal-hupe.
River of Emotion I have been/ You, mighty Eagle, king of North America.
You cry for me, you say?
Who’s to believe your bald calumny?
You love all the precious false doves that plunge down at your feet.
Me: black lily of the desert.
We had a daughter.
Remember?

You knew, when you reached the throne
you’d need to invent ghosts.
Circus of and for jackal gods.
Suicide, madness,
a shove brittling in appearance…
I’ve come undone and why matters to no one.
The king seeks his crown on the asphalt. Me,
I ought to go down to the bottom of the sun.
Without my shadow/ you, denuded of me,
decorated in shields and poisoned swords.
Red wine with notes of expiration.
You, my immortal victim, my bona fide galaxy, kingly tear.
Me, beneath the wheels.

Translated by Jennifer Shyue

Selected and edited by Eli Urbina Montenegro





JULIA WONG KCOMT was born into a tusán (Chinese Peruvian) family in Chepén, Peru, in 1965. She traveled from an early age, and her perceptions of country borders, different cultures, and diversity in ethnicity and religion became a strong motivation to write. She is the author of 16 volumes of poetry, including Un salmón ciego (Borrador Editores) and 18 poemas de fake love para Keanu Reeves (Cascada de Palabras); five books of fiction; and two collections of hybrid prose. She currently lives between Lima and Lisbon.

POESÍA PERUANA / POETS FROM PERU: BRAULIO MUÑOZ

Braulio Munoz (photography: Laurence Kesterson )

XX

MY SOUL aches brother

something not in your nature perhaps

inescapable experience in cracked

clay vessels like me

there are aches that only pain

others drip between puny fears
most demand accommodations in life

we end up embracing the saving tricks

as handouts wrapped in hope

there are aches that pair up

with blasphemies or remorse

there are those that urge us to lift

a fist and howl along canals and byroads

against those who will always win

            there are those that convince us

            that mouth heart elbow soul

            go on fighting against nothingness

            on golden blankets of silence

XXI

FOR ME gods are signs

of our own naked power

but to realize that is no liberation

            it is now useless to bray against them

            need brings about its own cure

            all remedy becomes tradition

nothing is left but to show fake wounds

pouts whimpers contrition

there is no taking back what has been given

            to blaspheme is to cover up truth and awe

            better to encourage supplications to a savior

            even though they are not worth it

XXIV

LOOK brother

            my songs are bones hung

            on the string of my time they peer

            between hopes rejections and afflictions

let them hear me in the silence of their hours

let them suck my marrow when they walk

lost in their own shadows

            I hope they don’t celebrate life by remembering death

            better that they hang up their own bones

            on the string of their own time

let them lick their own elbows

let them knock their brains out

on their own desert

            what do you think?

Selected and edited by Eli Urbina Montenegro





BRAULIO MUÑOZ was born in Chimbote, Peru. There he was a student and labor organizer and a radio and print journalist. He immi­grated to the USA in 1968. He earned a PhD in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Centennial Professor Emeritus of Swarthmore College where he taught social theory and Latin American Culture. Among Professor Muñoz’s works related to literature are Sons of the Wind and Storyteller: Mario Vargas Llosa Between Civilization and Barbarism. In fiction he has written Alejan­dro y los Pescadores de Tancay, which was translated into English and received the International Book Award at the New York Book Fair in 2009. The novel has also been translated into Italian. His other works of fiction include The Peruvian Notebooks (also translated into Italian), Los Apuntes de Alejandro, El Misha, the poem-novella Plaza mayor, a book of stories, El Hombre Que Sabía Morir y Otros Relatos, and Yaraví, a book of poems. He and his wife Nancy live in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.

POESÍA PERUANA / POETS FROM PERU: LUIS ALONSO CRUZ ALVAREZ

Luis Alonso Cruz Alvarez

I

The Sybillas of this town
speak to me in the mirror.
One and zero,
they type desolate
like a bridge between unstoppable words
and the dark abyss
Beautiful this omnipresent silence!

The stars
don’t forget.
The mind, yes.
So the oblivion is a city
where nothingness
cracks the space,
distort the light
and makes everyone blind.

Sweet Revenge.
Oblivion is also people's clothes
that hides his memories
and neither God,
like a pearl in the sky,
avoid the veil of its inhabitants.

The mind is a reflection of nothing.
With nothing,
ghosts appear
like electrical pulses in machines
or the numbers on the phones.

(Jardín Mecánico, 2020)

0

Today
the midnight
it's a clear
Dark.
Its emptiness
It feels like a machine
As a memory
like a wall,
and with that tone he paints the whole existence,
laughs at his work,
look at your flaws
and play everything
Surely:
Innocence

Wait
It is a maternal virtue,
embrace these sands of time
when the children
they become fire in memory,
a sacrifice

Sit down,
sleep on the right side
and that the dream
how to be watery,
evaporate in the memory.

But this sea can more,
gets into the wall
gain ground in bed,
And when,
Midnight and I looked at each other,
there is melted snow on every question that is silent
in his dark answers,
and in my shakes of light.

Today
the midnight
it's a sea
Sure
Dark

(La Música del Hielo, 2015)

Far Away

Mother says, today´s a special day
(The Bolshoi)

Happy moments,
happy losses.
Voices fall down like rain
In the midst of the abandoned house

There's a yellow photo album on the table,
and in the cupboard a black cat looks at us
we hold gazes
and felt there´s no hope.

Tomorrow will be another day,
the ship will wait as usual
Every day is like Sunday

Heroes have died on the eve
that's all I know,
Neither, I want to read your diary to find out about more death
or feel thorns in my ribs.

The body that’s far away
it remains as the great mystery
the hidden path
the faith that moves a mountain
the reason why stars are read
in thedistance.

(Hombre Fractal, 2018)

Selected and edited by Eli Urbina Montenegro





LUIS ALONSO CRUZ ALVAREZ. Lima, Peru 1981. Industrial Engineer from the University of Lima, with a doctorate in pedagogy from UNINI Mexico. Former member of Renato Sandoval's poetry workshop at the University of Lima (2000-2003) He published the books Tetrameron (Lima University Fund, 2003), Lumen, Trilogy of the Spirit (Nido de Cuervos, 2007); Radio Futura, within the “Piedra y Sangre” Collection (Lustra Editores, 2008); Ossuary of Perplexed Creatures (MiCieloEdiciones, 2014), La Música del Hielo (Bird on Cables Editors, 2015) Fractal Man (Bisonte Editorial, 2018) and Mechanical Garden (Editorial Primigenios, 2020. E-book format). He has been honorably mentioned in the poetry contests “Julio Garrido Malaver” (Peru, 2017) and “Parallel Zero” (Ecuador, 2020). He was nominated for the National Poetry Award with the book Fractal Man (Perú, 2019) His poems appear in “Versolibrismo, Current Poetry and Art” (Rio Negro, 2013), “Cuatro PoetasPeruanos” (El QuirófanoEditores, Guayaquil 2013), “Plexo Perú Poesía y Gráfica Perú-Chile” (Editorial Quimantú and Casa Azul, Valparaíso, 2014), “Looking over the Hay. Current Poetry Show ”(Vallejo & Company Ediciones, Lima 2014), Current Ibero-American Poetry Anthology (Ex Libric editions, Málaga, 2018), Lienzo Magazine N ° 40 (Editorial Fund of the University of Lima, 2019) and“ Isolated, dose of poetry for uncertain times ”(DendroEdiciones, 2020). Likewise, part of his poetry has been translated into English, Italian, Bengali and Uzbek. He was invited to different festivals and literary fairs such as the Bogotá Poetry Festival (2016, 2020), the Miches Beach Poetry Festival (Dominican Republic, 2020), I Pack of Words (Santa Cruz, 2019), the January Poetry Festival in the Word (Cusco, 2018, 2016, 2014, 2013), Havana Book Fair (Cuba, 2014) among others. He is the administrator of the cultural and miscellaneous blog “Fundador de Supernovas” ((http://luiscruzalvarez.blogspot.pe/ )

POESÍA PERUANA / POETS FROM PERU: PATRICIA COLCHADO

Patricia Colchado

SOOT

I remember those girls
––the few who came back––,
they returned already grown women.
Their eyes no longer sparkled
when they looked at the white sand.
They were denied the thrill of painting their hands
with hay;
their souls seemed infused by soot.
Their beauty was erased,
their tenderness
devoured by tongues of fire.

Anguish was an immense, black, carnivore
flower
that grew inside us.
For a long time our bodies were
harbors for our trembling.

It was getting late…
Some of us managed to climb over the wall, the others
were tied up and taken away,
of their childhood there remained only fleeting
shadows projected on the walls.

ORPHANHOOD

He has gone silent.
I have seen him drift away
as when I found him
abandoned on the beach…
Where did he leave his thoughts?
his words? his smile?
And, despite all that, it is this little one
who has saved me.
Not these residency papers,
not this compassion.

My fingernails have turned grimy
for digging into the pain.
My skin has dried up
like a Sahara cypress. My skin,
but not my trunk, he is that: my son.

We have become
two beings traveling
amidst barks and fowl smells,
beings who awaken without knowing why
under the patient gaze of crickets and doves.

TRIBULATION

I saw him floating,
I saw him sinking
until his little body slept
in the ocean’s eternity.
My arms opened paths
between the waves,
and my head
struggled to stay above water.
I cried.
I cried for that little child
who wanted to escape
first from the shots, and then from death.

Where was his home?
somewhere in the ocean perhaps?
And I am here,
standing up but torn apart,
lost to myself in this stinking skin.
A skin that should have died,
but lives on in the muck…

This is war!
Rots our souls,
makes us beings drenched
in anger and bitterness.

Translated by Braulio Muñoz

Selected and edited by Eli Urbina Montenegro





PATRICIA COLCHADO (Peru, 1981). Writer and poet, she lives in Munich (Germany). Colchado published the plate of poems Hypercubus (2000), the poetry books Blumen (2005), Las pieles del edén (2007), Ciudad ajena (2015), LyrischerKalender / Calendariolírico. Poetic selection,  bilingual (2017) and Ningunlado/ Nirgendland. Bilingual edition (2021). In 2011 she received the honorable mention in the award organized by the International Association La Porte des Poétes de France. In 2020 she won the poetry contest organized by the Stadtlesen International Literature Festival (Austria), representing the city of Munich, with her poem “Un árbol dentro de mí“. In 2011 she published the novel La danza del narciso. She is the author of several children's books.

POETAS DE PANAMÁ / POETS FROM PANAMA: ISABEL BURGOS

Isabel Burgos

Faltas

partes
y te llevas
mis palabras

mudo
el acecho de la mente
por una esperanza húmeda

aguardo
y escucho a la musa
redundante
lloviendo sobre el mar

llueves adentro mío
como llueve afuera,
con gotas gordas
tibias
como monedas

solo me queda
el recuerdo de tu boca
hablándome

en itálicas

al oído.

Sans Serif

Tus lágrimas hablan
un idioma inmemorial.

La lengua
del destierro
y la clausura,
del hombre deshabitado
de pie frente al fuego.

Déjame
hacer guardia
ante tu sueño,
ser tu testigo,
confirmar que sí,
que estuviste en este mundo,
que hubo cielo en tus ojos
y tus manos tocaron
una piel
sin línea, sin adornos.

No necesito entenderte
para alcanzar tu verdad.

Tus lágrimas hablan
el idioma tibio y conocido
del propio dolor.

Afasia

Puedo verte
parado en mi corteza,
los ojos amarillos
de un lémur asustado,
el sol en tu barba.
Tus dedos como helechos
que crecen
eternos
entre mi pelo.

Ahí estás, puedo verte,
pero no puedo nombrarte.

Cajones, armarios,
estantes, frascos.
Despeino los libros.
Revuelvo las maletas.

Perdóname, no sé.
Debo haberlas dejado en el taxi
o cuando cambié de cartera.
Tal vez se cayeron del balcón
la última vez que las lavé.

Las he perdido.

Tendremos que buscar unas nuevas,
inventarnos algo.
No sé dónde he puesto
las letras de tu nombre.

Y te tengo
en la punta
de la lengua.

La presente selección ha sido sacada del “Las letras de tu nombre” (2019).

You are missed

You leave
And take
My words with you

Silent
The mind´s stalking
For a wet hope

I wait for
And listen to the muse
Redundant
Raining over the sea

You rain inside of me
As it is raining outside,
With fat drops,
Lukewarm
Like coins.

All I´m left with
Is the memory of your mouth
Talking to me

In italics
To my ears.

Sans Serif

Your tears speak
An immemorial language

The tongue
Of exile
And cloister,
Of the deserted man
Standing in front of the fire.

Let me
Watch over
As you sleep,
Be your witness,
Confirm that you were,
You actually were in this world,
That there was sky in your eyes,
And your hands touched
A skin,
Without line, without ornaments.

I don´t need to understand you
To reach your truth.
Your tears speak
The warm and known language
Of the self-pain.

Aphasia

I can see you
Standing on my bark,
Your yellow eyes
Of a scared lemur,
The sun on your beard.
Your fingers like fern,
Eternal,
Growing
Among my hair.

There you are, I can see you,
But I cannot name you.

Drawers, wardrobes,
Bookcases, jars.
I dishevel the books.
I mess up the bags.

Forgive me, I don´t know.
I should have let them in the taxi
Or when I changed my wallet.
Maybe they fell down the balcony
The last time I washed them.

I have lost them.

We will have to look for new ones,
Make something up.
I don´t know where I have put
The letters of your name.

And I have you
In the tip
Of my tongue.

The following poems have been selected from the book “The letters of your name” (2019).

Elección y traducción a inglés : Edilberto González Trejos. / Selection and translation to English: Edilberto González Trejos.

Esta elección está dedicada a nuestro amigo, poeta Vasco Franco (1960-2021). / This selection is dedicated to our friend poet Vasco Franco (1960 -2021).





Isabel Burgos, Ciudad de Panamá, 1970. Es Licenciada en Comunicación Social, actriz, directora y dramaturga, locutora comercial y entrenadora de actores y no-actores en técnicas teatrales.  Ha publicado dos libros de microficciones: Segunda persona y letras minúsculas, así como el libro de poesía Las letras de tu nombre. Su obra ha sido incluida en diversas antologías literarias a nivel nacional e internacional.  Sus cuentos han sido publicados en las revistas Maga, El Guayacán, Panorama de las Américas y La Balandra. En 2014 representó a Panamá en la Feria del Libro de Guadalajara. Ha ganado en dos ocasiones el Premio Literario Ricardo Miró, sección teatro, por sus obras Tránsito y Los inocentes.

Isabel Burgos, Panama City, 1970. She is a graduate in Social Communication, actress, director and playwright, commercial broadcaster, and coach in theatrical techniques for both actors and non- actors.She has published two books of minifiction: Segunda persona and letras minúsculas, as well as the poetry book Las letras de tu nombre.  Her texts have been included in several literary anthologies, in Panama and abroad. Her short stories have been published in magazines such as Maga, El Guayacán, Panorama de las Américas and La Balandra in Argentina. In the year 2014 she represented Panama as an author in The Guadalajara International Book Fair, Mexico. She has won twice the National Prize of Literature “Ricardo Miró”, in theater for her works, “Tránsito” and “Los inocentes”.

POETAS DE PANAMÁ / POETS FROM PANAMA: ALCIDES FUENTES

Alcides Fuentes

POST MORTEM

La vida, y su excusa perfecta para la muerte,
despierta, fluye a raudales, se ríe de su imagen.
El mismo sol que vibra alegre sobre la hierba mojada,
permite que la humedad pudra todo inevitablemente.
La gente pasa con sus delirios cotidianos
en una imitación permanente de la felicidad,
asoma sus esperanzas para sobrevivir al caos.
La vida se levanta y llora por primera vez
tose, gime, susurra, sufre las cicatrices y calla;
duerme con el semblante vacío de los exánimes.
Tenazmente, en las estrellas, buscó respuestas eternas.
En el cieno sembró las semillas que treparon soles.
De lodo se llenaron sus mejillas en el estrépito de su caída.
Soñó tanto la vida, se gastó tanto, amo tanto, hirió tanto,
que un día será contemplada en su osamenta total,
y para tantos será un ángel que habitó la tierra,
sin culpas, sin odios, sin desventuras ni prejuicios,
porque la grandeza pertenece a los muertos silentes.
Después del cuerpo y la carne, ya no habrá más.

BOULEVARD 010621

I
Así suelen acabar el día y la noche,
como dos perros adormecidos por tanta lluvia,
en un callejón de luces mortecinas
quemadas y amarillas de alumbrar sin ganas.
En madrugadas de torcidas pasarelas
con mujeres con vestidos cortos y sensuales.
Aves nocturnas con gafas oscuras, sin alas;
a quienes el destino le enmarcó su silencio.
El viento pasa con su armazón de tonada cómplice,
deja agua y sal en las mejillas y un mar en el alma.
Las canciones atraviesan las paredes de la ausencia,
confabulan contra todos con un grito que supura soledad.

II
Un hombre vestido como nadie, es público y es actor,
cree que ríe, pero llora amargamente sin cesar.
¿Acaso solo le espera la muerte al solitario pierrot
que desemboca las babas en el rincón de su sonrisa?
Esa andanada de melodías llega para revivir los poemas,
se estrellan por el suelo y en los húmedos balcones.
Cabizbajo, el borracho trata de incorporar sus penurias
y buscar el amor entre la sangre de sus manos vencidas,
entre el sudor que ha quedado embarrado en el pavimento.

III
Maquilladas de alegría las mujeres,
ya sin fuerzas los ebrios,
por las estaciones intermitentes,
todos andan sin reloj ni luna.
No se percatan de la llegada del sol.
Tampoco les importa.

TESTAMENTO

Ora por mí, buen amor,
porque se ciernen sobre mi cabeza
todas las nostalgias que pensaba ya ocultas
en los santuarios de la memoria.

Ora por mis horas lúcidas
que se enganchaban a las nubes,
por los cerros que trepa la hierba dorada,
cuando el olor a libro me hizo evadir la muerte.

Ora al infinito por mi camino.
Por el retorno a la matriz de la madre.
Ya no soporto la vida colgada en carteles
ni la vanidad que flota en las ciudades.

Ora por mí, por mi alma.
Hasta el sol se me ha hecho anónimo;
es solo un agujero de fuego que se traga la luz
y la vomita sobre nuestras miradas.

Ora por mí, buen amor,
que hoy me reclama el universo
y ya no entiendo el origen de tu voz
solo tengo el filo de esta daga.

Esta selección pertenece al libro Cancionero de los suicidas. Tres canciones para cantar después de morir, Panamá, 2021.

POST MORTEM

Life and her perfect excuse for death,
Awakens, flows in torrents, laughs at her image.
The same sun that happily pulses upon the wet grass,
Lets the moisture rot everything helplessly.
People go by with their everyday delusions
In a permanent imitation of happiness,
Leaning out their hopes to survive chaos.
Life stands up and cries for the first time
Coughs, moans, whispers, suffers the scars and keeps silent;
Sleeps with the empty countenance of the lifeless.
Tenaciously, in the stars, she looked for eternal answers.
In the mire she sown the seeds that climbed upon suns.
Her cheeks were filled with mud in the fuss of her fall.
Life dreamt so much, she spent so much, she loved so much, she hurt so much,
That one day everyone will gaze at all of her bones,
And then for many she will be an angel who dwelled on Earth,
Without guilt, without hate, without misfortune or prejudice,
Because greatness belongs to the silent dead men.
After the body and the flesh, there will be nothing more.

BOULEVARD 010621

I
This is how day and night use to end,
Like two drowsy dogs, out of so much rain,
In an alley of dim, burnt, yellow lights,
Out of the lack of desire to illuminate.
In small hours of twisted catwalks
With women in short and sexy dresses.
Wingless night birds, wearing sunglasses;
Whom destiny defined their silence.
The wind passes with his frame of accomplice tune,
Leaving water and salt on the cheeks and a sea in the soul.
The songs pierce the walls of the absence
Collude against everyone with a scream festering loneliness.

II
A man dressed like nobody, he is the audience and the actor,
He believes that he smiles, but cries bitterly and unceasingly.
Perhaps, is it only death waiting for lone pierrot,
whose spittle flows into in the corner of his smile?
This bashing of melodies comes to recall the poems,
They crash against the ground and the humid balconies.
Crestfallen, the drunkard tries to sit up his scarcities,
Among the sweat that´s left spattered in the pavement.

III
Women have put on themselves the makeup of happiness,
The drunk men no longer with strength.
Through disperse stations,
They all walk by with no watch and no moon.
They don´t notice the rise of the sun.
They don´t care either.

TESTAMENT


Pray for me, good love,
Because over my head are hanging
All the nostalgias that I thought they were concealed
In the Sanctuaries of the memory.

Pray for my lucid hours,
Fastened to the clouds,
Through the hills where the golden grass climbs,
When the smell of books made me elude death.

Pray to the infinite for my path,
For the return to the mother´s womb.
I can´t stand life hanging on posters
Nor vanity floating over the cities.

Pray for me, for my soul.
Even the sun has become anonymous to me;
It is only a pit of fire swallowing the light,
Throwing it out over our looks.

Pray for me, good love,
For today the universe demands for me
And I no longer understand the source of your voice
I only have the blade of this dagger.

This selection belongs to the book “The Suicidals´ Songbook. Three songs to sing after dying”. (Panama, 2021).

Elección y traducción a inglés : Edilberto González Trejos. / Selection and translation to English: Edilberto González Trejos.

Esta elección está dedicada a nuestro amigo, poeta Vasco Franco (1960-2021). / This selection is dedicated to our friend poet Vasco Franco (1960 -2021).





Alcides Fuentes, David, Chiriquí, República de Panamá, 1973. Miembro del Movimiento de Cantautores de Panamá, Tocando madera, la gira, con quienes graba el disco Tocando madera la gira volumen 1. Ha publicado, en poesía, “Los acertijos de Sofía”, ganador del Premios IPEL, 2017, y “Estuve antes”, 2018, Editorial La Chifurnia, El Salvador. En cuento “La dama teje un sol sobre el arado”, ganador de los Premios IPEL, 2019. Es un artista multidisciplinario que ha incursionado en las artes escénicas y plásticas.Coordinador del Departamento de Arte y Cultura, MEDUCA, Chiriquí. Presidente del Movimiento Literario “Furtivos, literatura, arte, cultura”.

Alcides Fuentes, David, Chiriquí, Republic of Panama, 1973. Member of the Singer-Songwriters´ Movement of Panama “Tocando Madera. La gira”, with whom he has recorded the album “Tocando madera la gira volumen 1” (2011).He has published the following books, in poetry: “Los acertijos de Sofía”, winner of the IPEL Awards, 2017, and “Estuve antes”, 2018, Editorial La Chifurnia, El Salvador; in short story:“La dama teje un sol sobre el arado”, winner of the IPEL Awards, 2019. He is a multidisciplinary artist who has ventured into both scenic and plastic arts. Coordinator of the Department of Arts and Culture of the Ministry of Education, MEDUCA, in the province of Chiriquí. He is also the President of the Literary Movement “Furtivos: literature, arts and culture.”

POETAS DE PANAMÁ / POETS FROM PANAMA: EYRA HARBAR

Eyra Harbar

Cien años

Camino a la ciudad, tu boca y la mía,
lamentan ser parte del festín:
venció el becerro de oro,
la centuria ha sido del mundo,
nuestra cadena se arrastra
como sílaba dormida.
Perdimos la paz boscosa,
rompimos el pacto.
Somos reyes sin trono
en este paraíso de hojalata.

(del cuaderno “Espejos”)

Cotidianas en serie

Ser cauto,
un ser pensante que sabe de sobra,
una máquina para cerrarlos los ojos y acumular consideraciones.
una máquina para acumular una casa, un auto, mostradores y vitrinas,
un ser que va de un corral a otro contando almas como mercancía,
un ser consagrado al hecho diario de catalogar la vida.
Ser cauto,
un ser pensante que sabe de sobra
repetir su maquinal herencia.

(Del cuaderno “Desertores de alborada”)

Heredades del fuego

El suicidio de un jubilado por la crisis
desata la ira en Grecia
Diario El País, España

Un anciano se ha disparado en la sien.
Adentro de su bolsillo guarda una nota
que habla del patrimonio de un pueblo
adueñado por dioses monstruosos.

Se escucha detonada la explosión.
Se empieza a ser polvo antes que cólera,
unos mueren antes que llegue la muerte.

Los viejos mueren por un tiro en la cabeza,
allá o acá sin heredad,
sumando la cifra de una guerra
que en cualquier bolsillo incendia.

(Del cuaderno “Desertores de alborada”)

One hundred years

Heading for the city, your mouth and mine,
They regret to be part of the feast:
The gold calf won,
The century has been of the world,
Our chain is dragging
Like a sleeping syllable.
We lost the wooded peace,
We broke the covenant.
We are kings without throne
In this paradise made of tinplate.

(from the notebook “Mirrors”)

Serial routines

To be cautious,
A thinking being who knows full well,
A machine for closing eyes and gathering considerations.
A machine for gathering a house, a car, counters and shop windows,
A being swaying between a pen to the other counting souls as merchandise,
A being devoted to the daily fact of cataloguing life.
To be cautious,
A thinking being who knows full well
How to repeat his mechanical legacy.

(From the notebook “The dawn deserters”)

The Fire´s estates

The suicide of a pensioner because of the crisis
unleashes the rage in Greece
Diario El País, Spain

An old man has shot himself in the temple.
In his pocket he keeps a note
About the heritage of a people
Seized by monstruous gods.

Triggered, the explosion is heard.
One begins to be dust before rage,
Some die before death arrives.

Old men die of a shot in the head,
Here or there without estate,
Adding up to the numbers of a war
That sets fire to any pocket.

(From the notebook “The dawn deserters”)

Elección y traducción a inglés : Edilberto González Trejos. / Selection and translation to English: Edilberto González Trejos.

Esta elección está a nuestro amigo, poeta Vasco Franco (1960-2021). / This selection is dedicated to our friend poet Vasco Franco (1960 -2021).





Eyra Harbar, Almirante, provincia de Bocas del Toro, Panamá, 1972. Poeta, narradora y escritora de literatura infantil y juvenil. Su trabajo literario ha sido publicado en estudios y antologías nacionales e internacionales, así como ha sido reconocido en varios premios nacionales en poesía y de literatura infantil/juvenil. Licenciada en Derecho y Ciencias Políticas. Ha publicado los poemarios Paraíso quemado(2013), Espejos (2003), Donde habita el escarabajo (2002), el libro de minificción No está de más (2018) y Cuentos para el planeta (2020) en poesía infantil.

Eyra Harbar, Almirante, Bocas del Toro province, Panama, 1972. Poetess, storyteller and writer of Child and Adolescent Literature. Her literary work has been published in national and international studies and anthologies, as well as distinguished with several national prizes of poetry and child and adolescent literature. She is a Law and Political Sciences Graduate. She has published the following poetry books: Paraíso quemado(2013), Espejos(2003), Donde habita el escarabajo (2002), the minifiction books No está de más (2018) and Cuentos para el planeta (2020) in children´s poetry.

POETAS DE PANAMÁ / POETS FROM PANAMA: SAMUEL ROBLES

Samuel Robles

Inéditos

1.

La escarcha de la aurora
se perfila en tu velo de alabastro.

Fuiste lágrimas silvestres
poblabas los caminos del otoño
despertabas al ocaso
y con hábil sutileza
seducías mariposas,
amantes en exilio–.

Sobre la hiedra se alzaban tus manos
como espumas de una ola prematura
lánguida
dulce
desnuda y fulgurante.

Y al final de tu historia olvidas tu pasado
y transformas en pétalos
tus párpados marchitos.

2.

Un navío hecho de hojas se despide
hacia la vastedad de la laguna.

El sol aguarda.

3.

Resuelta
caminas hacia el espacio
donde se visten
mis tinieblas:
entras sin temor en la oscuridad.

Tus manos reconocen
los senderos abatidos de mi viaje
y descansan
imitando al ocaso.

Tal vez recibas
de mis manos un alba
de azul y de azucena.

Tal vez mi pecho
lacerado por el olvido
encuentre tus brazos
como ola y litoral.

Unpublished

1.
The frost of the dawn
Is outlined in your veil of alabaster.

You were tears in the wild
Crowding the grey roads of autumn
Awaking at dusk
Seducing butterflies
With your clever tenderness,
Lovers in exile-.

Upon the ivy your hands did raise,
Like sea foams of a premature wave,
Feeble
Sweet
Nude and bright.

And at the end of your story, you forget your past
Turning your withered eyelids
Into petals.

2.
A ship made of leaves bids farewell,
Toward the vastness of the pond

The sun awaits.

3.
Resolute
You walk towards the space
Where my darkness
Is clothed:
You enter fearless into the night.

Your hands recognise
The downhearted paths of my journey
And rest
An imitation of sunset.

Perhaps you will receive
From my hands a dawn
Of blue, a dawn of white lily.

Perhaps my chest,
Hurt by oblivion,
Shall find your arms
As wave and shore.

Elección y traducción a inglés : Edilberto González Trejos. / Selection and translation to English: Edilberto González Trejos.

Esta elección está dedicada a nuestro amigo, poeta Vasco Franco (1960-2021). / This selection is dedicated to our friend poet Vasco Franco (1960 -2021).





Samuel Robles, Ciudad de Panamá, 1974. Compositor, director de orquesta, educador y escritor panameño. Su música ha viajado por el mundo, siendo ejecutada o grabada por orquestas, grupos de cámara y solistas tales como la Orquesta Sinfónica de Guanajuato, la Sinfónica Venezuela, Dal Niente Ensemble, Violet Duo, Carmen Borregales, Eddy Marcano, Ana Catalina Ramírez, Marco Antonio Mazzini, Roberto Alonso Trillo, Laurel Zucker, Pacifica String Quartet o la Sejong Dream Tree Orchestra de Corea. Ha dirigido orquestas en Norte, Centro y Suramérica, trabajando principalmente con músicos jóvenes y programas de desarrollo social a través de la música. En 2018 obtuvo el Premio Roque Cordero de Composición en su versión inaugural por su obra Réquiem por los hijos del cañaveral para coro mixto y percusión – dos años más tarde repite con Cantata para un soldado, para soprano y ensamble mixto. Sus obras Sur para Banda Sinfónica, Veraguas para Orquesta Sinfónica y Danza de la Aurora para arpa han recibido mención de honor en dicho concurso. Sus composiciones son publicadas por Cayambis Music Press. Robles es profesor de la Universidad de Panamá, donde enseña en las áreas de Literatura Musical, Dirección Musical y Teoría Musical. Es pianista y acordeonistade Los Guayas y ha participado en álbumes como acordeonista, compositor, arreglista y director. Es doctor en composición musical (North West University) y posee maestrías en Musicología Histórica con concentración en música medieval y renacentista (University of Chicago) y en composición musical (University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music). Es miembro investigador del Grupo Salamanca de Investigación en Museos y Patrimonio Iberoamericano (GSIM). Como escritor, ha publicado libros de cuentos y poesía, obteniendo en diversas ocasiones premios a nivel nacional. Ofrece talleres de escritura creativa, ha fungido como jurado de concursos nacionales de literatura y su obra ha sido seleccionada para diversas antologías, tales como “Cuentos de Panamá”, editado por la Universidad de Zaragoza. Robles ha sido publicado por el Instituto Nacional de Cultura, la Fundación Signos, Ediciones El Duende Gramático y por la Sociedad de Estudios Medievales y Renacentistas de Sudáfrica, entre otros.

Samuel Robles, Panama City, 1974. Composer, orchestra conductor, teacher and writer. His music has travelled around the world, performed or recorded by orchestras, chamber groups and solo artists such as the Symphonic Orchestra of Guanajuato, the Venezuela Symphonic, Dal Niente Ensemble, Violet Duo, Carmen Borregales, Eddy Marcano, Ana Catalina Ramírez, Marco Antonio Mazzini, Roberto Alonso Trillo, Laurel Zucker, Pacifica String Quartet, or the Sejong Dream Tree Orchestra of Korea. He has conducted orchestras in North, Central and South America, working mainly with young musicians and programs of social growth through music. In 2018 he received the Roque Cordero Award for Musical Composition for his work Réquiem por los hijos del cañaveral for mixed choir and percussion, two years later he is awarded again with Cantata para un soldado for soprano and mixed ensemble. His works Sur for symphonic band, Veraguas for symphonic orchestra and Danza de la Aurora for harp, have received honourable mention in the before mentioned contest. His compositions are published by Cayambis Music Press. Robles is professor at the Universidad de Panamá, teaching Musical Literature, Musical Conduction and Musical Theory. He is the pianist and accordionist of Los Guayas, participating in recordings as accordionist, composer, musical arrangement and direction. He has a Ph.D. in musical composition (North West University) and master degrees in Historical Musicology, stressing on medieval and renaissance music (University of Chicago) and musical composition (University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music). He is member as researcher in the Grupo Salamanca de Investigaciónen Museos y Patrimonio Iberoamericano (GSIM). As a writer he has published short story and poetry books, receiving several nationwide awards in many occasions. He offers creative writing workshops, serving also as jury in several national literary contests. His texts have been selected for diverse anthologies, such as Cuentos de Panamá, published by the Universidad de Zaragoza. The author has been published by The Panamanian Instituto Nacional de Cultura, the Fundación Signos, Ediciones El Duende Gramático and by the Society of Medieval and Renaissance Studies in South Africa, among others.

MÓNICA MIGUEL FRANCO: DE LA PIEL DEL DIABLO / OF THE DEVIL'S SKIN

Mónica Miguel Franco  (Photo Anhell Demelos – (c) Sanfiz Photography)

DE LA PIEL DEL DIABLO

De la piel del Diablo, se crearon los niños.

La alegría que desborda en un beso, la suavidad exquisita de la nata
sobre la lengua.

De la piel del Diablo se creó el jade y del sudor
que resbala sobre Él se cristalizan las esmeraldas.

De la piel del Diablo se fundieron las selvas,
las orquídeas y las guacamayas.

De la piel del Diablo surgieron la obscuridad y la noche, el querer tocar,
el miedo y el susurro.

De la piel del Diablo se hizo la música que te transporta
y el silencio que te rodea.

La piel del Diablo huele como las lilas en primavera y tiene la belleza del primer carámbano del invierno, ese que en su brillo conjura heladas y cierzos.

De la piel del Diablo se desprenden las plumas de las águilas, de los mirlos,
de las cornejas y de las lechuzas.

De la piel del Diablo se recortaron todos los mares llenos de vida,
los ríos que te ahogan y los estanques burbujeantes de hadas.

De la piel del Diablo se crean todos los zapatos rojos y los sorbos de licor verde que se deslizan entre los dientes.

El calambre que los enamorados sienten al tocar al ser amado,
las mariposas brillantes que rondan el estómago del que espera,
esas son las sensaciones
que te provoca la piel sedosa, tibia y tierna del Diablo.

La piel del Diablo te cubre como una manta de cuna, como una mortaja ligera, como un sudario amable, como el abrazo de tu madre antes de dormir.

La piel del Diablo, que se estira y rodea todo el universo en su despliegue
de sorpresas y brillos, que se recoge y ondula en cada curva de la serpiente.

La piel del Diablo nos protege y nos aísla, nos envuelve como el saco que rompemos al nacer.

Al rasgar esa piel, llorando, detrás, encontramos al Diablo, riendo.

La belleza del Diablo que quema
nuestros pulmones con el primer sorbo de sabiduría.
Y nos condena eternamente.

(De la piel del Diablo, Panamá, 2012)

OF THE DEVIL´S SKIN

Out of the Devil´s skin, children were created.

The joy brimming over a kiss, the exquisite softness of the milk skin
on the tongue.

Out of the Devil´s skin, jade was created and out of the sweat
sliding on Him emeralds are crystalized.

Out of the Devil´s skin rainforests did merge,
as well as orchids and macaws did.

Out of the Devil´s skin darkness and night emerged, the desire to touch,
and fear and whispering.

Out of the Devil´s skin, the music that transports you was made
and the silence surrounding you.

The Devil´s skin smells like lilacs in spring and has the beauty of the first icicle of winter, that one conjuring up in its brightness frosts and cold north winds.

Out of the Devil´s skin, the feathers of eagles, blackbirds, carrion crows and owls come off.

Out of the Devil´s skin all the seas full of life were outlined,
as well as the rivers drowning you and the ponds bubbling with fairies.

Out of the Devil´s skin all the red shoes are created as well as the sips of green spirits sliding between the teeth.

The cramp that lovers feel when they touch their beloved one,
the glowing butterflies circling the stomach of the waiting one,
those are the sensations
that the silky, warm and tender Devil´s skin arouse in you.

The Devil´s skin covers you like a cradle´s blanket, like a light shroud, like a kind gravecloth, like the mother´s embrace before sleeping.

The Devil´s skin, the one that stretches and surrounds all the universe in her unfolding
of surprises and sparkles, folding and waving in every serpent´s curve.

The Devil´s skin protects us and isolates us, wraps us like the bag we break when we are born.

By tearing that skin, crying, we find the Devil, in the back, laughing.

The beauty of the Devil burning
our lungs with the first sip of wisdom.
And condemning us eternally.

(De la piel del Diablo, Panamá, 2012)

.::
LA DAMA BLANCA

En tu montaña soy el hada
que te enreda y te pierde
soy la que te hiere y te asusta…
la Niña Blanca, la Santa Muerte…
danzas conmigo en eterno son
de besos no dados y promesas
Soy yo, ¿me ves? morirás en mis brazos…y
morirás alegre

(De la piel del Diablo, Panamá, 2012)

.::
THE WHITE LADY

In your mountain I am the fairy
tangling you, getting you lost,
I am the one who hurts you and scares you…
the White Childe, the Holy Death…
you dance with me in an eternal pace
of ungiven kisses and promises
It is me, Can you see me? You will die in my arms…and
you will die happy.

(De la piel del Diablo, Panamá, 2012)

CORDIS

Quiero un corazón para llevar.
Lo quiero grande. Donde quepan mis caprichos y mis rarezas.
Mimosa, excéntrica y temperamental.
Latirá en mis risas y mis llantos.
Ronroneará en mis silencios y mis arrebatos.
Lo quiero aún caliente,
para acercar a él mis manos siempre heladas
y poder sentir el vaho húmedo que desprende.
En tu pecho no late, pero latirá por mí.
Golpeará sin pausa, al ritmo de mis gemidos y mis susurros.
Será el diapasón que marque el ritmo de mis mareas.
Seré su norte y su este.
Escucharé su llamada a puerto seguro.
Marcará el baile y me hará danzar.
Quiero un corazón para morderlo. Para saborearlo
y esconderme en él. Jugaré al escondite en sus recovecos,
los ventrículos serán mi lecho y las aurículas harán eco
a mi llanto.
A salvo en sus remansos, sus dolores serán para mí apenas
pavesas que haré volar al soplo de mi aliento y sangre nueva
lo llenará, y me deslizaré en un tobogán resbaladizo carmesí,
brillante y blando.
Quiero un corazón viejo. Lo quiero con cicatrices.
Quiero pasar la lengua por ellas, lamer su dolor y sus aristas.
No quiero nada tierno.
Quiero la dureza del que ha latido contra el viento
y ha sobrevivido.
Quiero un corazón antiguo.
Quiero oír en sus compases cuentos de penas y dolor.
Quiero sentirlo latir contra mi mano.
En mi puño recuperará el paso y la calma.
Lo usaré de almohada y despertaré oliendo el óxido
de la sangre en mis labios.
Dame tu corazón, lo quiero para mí.
Entrégamelo para usarlo como una pastilla de jabón,
resbaladiza y húmeda,
que borre con sus manchas las imágenes que no deseo
tener en mi alma.
Dame tu corazón.
Mío es, tuyo no.

(20 poemas de amor y una canción alcoholizada, Panamá, 2014)

CORDIS

I want a take-out heart.
I want it big. Where my cravings and my peculiarities fit.
Affectionate, eccentric and temperamental.
It will beat in my laughter and in my tears.
It will purr in my silences and in my outbursts.
I want it still hot,
to put closer to it my hands, forever cold
and being able to feel the humid steam it emits.
In your chest it beats no more, but it will beat for me.
It will beat without pause, to the rhythm of my moaning and whispering.
It will be the tuning fork setting the beat of my tides.
I will be its North and its East.
I will hear its call to a safe port.
It will set the dance beat and will make me dance.
I want a heart to bite it. To savour it.
and hinder in it. I will play hide-and-seek in its nooks,
the ventricles will be my bed and the atriums will echo my cry.
Safe in its havens, its pains will be for me barely
ashes that I will make fly blowing away my breath and new blood
will fill it and I will slide in a slippery crimson bright and
tender toboggan.
I want an old heart. I want it with scars.
I want to pass my tongue through them, lick their pain and their ridges.
I don´t want anything tender.
I want the hardness of the one who has beaten against the wind
and has survived.
I want an ancient heart.
I want to hear in its beats tales of grieving and pain.
I want to feel it throb against my hand.
In my fist it will recover the pace and the calm.
I will use it as a pillow and will wake up smelling the rust
of the blood in my lips.
Give me your heart, I want it for me.
Hand it to me to use it as a bar of soap,
slippery and wet,
erasing with its stains the images that I do not wish
to have in my soul.
Give me your heart.
Mine it is, not yours.

(20 poemas de amor y una canción alcoholizada, Panamá, 2014)

Translation / Traducción: Edilberto González Trejos





Mónica Miguel Franco (León, España, 1971). Licenciada en Filosofía por la Universidad de Barcelona, doctoranda en Patrimonio Histórico y Natural por la Universidad de Huelva (España). Ha trabajado en un número plural de instituciones culturales y antropológicas en distintos países desde 1998, ha sido docente por más de 20 años y actualmente también dicta talleres on-line. Escribeal menos tres columnas semanales en revistas, periódicos y distintos medios de comunicación en Panamá.Ha publicado dos poemarios: De la piel del Diablo(2012) y 20 poemas de desamor y una canción alcoholizada (2014). Ha sido antologada tanto en libros de poesía como de cuentos en distintas publicaciones en Panamá y en el extranjero. Y sus poemas han sido traducidos al italiano y al inglés. Es productora y actriz de teatro y cine, con una larga trayectoria en las tablas. Como gestora cultural es fundadora del Festival Panamá Negro y del proyecto Jamming Poético en Panamá y de la Red Nacional de Festivales.

Mónica Miguel Franco (León, Spain, 1971). She has a grade in Philosophy by the University of Barcelona, doctoral student in Historical and Natural Heritage by the University of Huelva (Spain). She has worked in a plural number of cultural and anthropological institutions, including museums, in different countries since 1998, she has been a teacher for over 20 years and currently also gives on-line workshops and classes. She writes at least three weekly columns in magazines, newspapers and other media in Panama. She has published two Poetry Books: De la piel del Diablo (2012) y 20 poemas de desamor y una canción alcoholizada (2014). Her work has been included in several anthologies, in poetry and short fiction stories, both in Panama and abroad (Spain, Argentina, Italy, f.i.). And her poems have been translated into Italian and English. She is producer and actress for theater and cinema, with a long career on the stage. As a cultural enterpreneur and manager she is founder of Festival Panamá Negro and the Jamming Poético Panamá  Project as well as the National Network of Festivals.

OTHERING IS BARBARISM: INTERVIEW WITH ALVIN PANG

Alvin Pang (photo by Jared Ho)

Interview by Nadija Rebronja

Could  you single out one or several verses that could serve as a metaphor for Singapore, the way you perceive it?

My poem „To Go to S’pore“ is a good example – S’pore is a common short form for Singapore; „spore“ is also a seed. Singapore is a tiny island city-state but it contains remarkable potential to unfold multitudes.

You’ve attended festivals in the Balkans, you established connections in the world of literature of Macedonia, Croatia, Serbia. What are your impressions about the literary life in this region and the poetry that has been created here?

I have spent very little time in this area, and cannot claim to know it deeply, although I have made many close friends and I have had books published in Croatia and Macedonia in the local languages.  That said, there are many currents here that are also present in the Asia-Pacific region: ancient societies with a long tradition of power, wealth, trade and cultural mingling – with a lot of pride — but there is also a history of conflict and decline. These are the societies that may have lost their leading place, but are trying to find their way back to the global community. Back to a place of dignity and hope. But we are not there yet.  The writing reflects both the pride, the cultural confidence that is here but also the anxieties and resentments of the present and the recent past.  At the same time there is a reaching for the new – there seems to be a desire not to stay too long in your father’s house.  I believe the ability to forge real change and innovation can only come from such societies as these, and some of the recent writing shows it.  There are exciting breaks with the past and with comfortable conventions. There is fresh blood.

I know you as a really curious, but at the same time deep observer of the places you visit, as well as the observer of the symbolic potential of seemingly small and not so important events you come across. To what extent do the travellings and meeting various people and cultures affect your writing?

Without curiosity there can be no new wisdoms. Travelings and and encounterings nourish growth – particularly for someone from such a comfortable but small country as Singapore.  One cannot be too sheltered as a writer; one must expose oneself (both in the sense of open-mindedness but also in the sense of vulnerability) to the world.  The diversity of human experience, which is so richly evident when one travels far from home, is a wonderful source of inspiration.  So too are the constant reminders that we are after all one species, and the human spirit knows no distinction of colour, creed, gender or tongue.  That gives me hope.  My writing is a way of circling, marking out, what seems true to me, and the more I travel the more I find new ways to do so. I find fresh coordinates. New voices, new structures to learn from. The lens gets a little clearer, gains more focus.  We teach each other how to be more human by embodying different ways of being human, and of speaking through life.

Where are the barbarians in the contemporary world? Are they within us or within what is being considered as Otherness?

I think the roots of barbarity have always been the same: ignorance, atavism, fear, tribalism, selfishness, anger, greed, resentment, insecurity… To me, barbarians are those in any time and any place who seek to divide or destroy, rather than nurture human connections and human variety.  The barbarian is not the Other; Othering is barbarism.

At times you question emotion as a reaction to the current war and political events in your poetry. What is the power of words in the contemporary world?

I think emotion is a valid response. But it is one of many responses, and they all add up. I don’t believe poetry (or language) alone can save the world, or even move it directly.  But it may, like how a line of music can change a song, subtly alter the terms of engagement, shift the tone, add to what is considered, reduce noise or nudge it so that it becomes something else.  Satire is the most obvious example of this (turning something serious into something funny) but there are other subtle ways in which language may change the mood, if not for the whole world, then for the individuals that make up the world.  It’s like the old Depeche Mode song: „You can’t change the world, but you can change the facts; when you change the facts, you change points of view“ and from there you may change the world.  I think it is very important for individuals to feel like they have the ability to consider and change their own points of view; to think about what is and what could be in more ways than are often available.  The ability to thoughtfully disagree is the basis of civilisation.

Some philosophers consider that we live in postemotional world. Is today’s poetry postemotional or is it dominated by new sensitivity?

I think it’s important however to remember that not everyone is at the same level of philosophical development – who is postemotional?  Ego, self-interest have been with humanity since day one, but it has not crowded out altruism and compassion completely.  Neither has Singapore’s state obsession with self-reliance and enforced harmony led to a colourless, clinical polity – quite the contrary in fact.  Quite frankly I think boredom, if nothing else, eventuallys drives us to connection.  The self can only sustain interest for so long before it begins to eat itself.  The same goes for poetry – it will swing one way and eventually another.  There is, at the moment, more than enough diversity, if one cares to look, to suit any taste.

It will be difficult to get rid of emotion and emotionality as long as we inhabit mortal, organic, mammal bodies.  The terms of this emotionality may change, and should change – what, for example, will transhuman advancements mean for human feelings?  If we become immortal cyborgs or uploaded consciousness, as some argue will happen within this century, will emotions even mean the same thing?   What will society mean then?

What are your thoughts on the relation between poetry and popular culture, music, film, and other media?

A big awkward family gathering over the New Year. Some relatives arrive in large limousines and tailored suits; some in handmedown dresses.  Some of them have not seen each other all year; others meet once a month for tea.  There is this one cousin who is intense and always broke. The rest try to avoid talking to him, especially about politics and religion because a fight always starts. Everyone loves the dessert, but nobody is quite sure who made it.

What do you read these days? Can you recommend one European, one American and one Singaporean poet to our readers?

I am trying to read much more broadly – particularly writers from the middle east and asia in translation but also writers from central and eastern europe: the younger and less famous the better, because I am looking for what is new, not what is respected. Instead of looking to Europe or America, I’d instead to recommend the Burmese poet Zeyar Lynn; the Japanese poet Hiromi Ito; the Chinese poet Xi Chuan; the Australian poet John Kinsella, and the Singaporean poet Johar Buang (although there are not many good translations of his work), or Yeow Kai Chai (who writes experimental verse in English).  I’d recommend reading poetry that makes you uncomfortable in fresh ways, because that shows you what you don’t already know how to deal with. Which means it’s a place to learn and grow from.





Prethodni tekstovi autora: Kada barbari dođu , Prepoznavanje drugosti je barbarizam