'My homeless love' (for Valentine's Day)

The shadow of my homeless love.

The bullet that pierces the shadow of my homeless love.

The leaves that cover the bullet that pierces the shadow of my homeless love.

The wind that snatches the leaves that cover the bullet that pierces the shadow of my homeless love.

My eyes that root in the wind that snatches the leaves that cover the bullet that pierces the shadow of my homeless love.

My love that is reflected in the eyes that root in the wind that snatches the leaves that cover the bullet that pierces the shadow of my homeless love.

Maria-Mercè Marçal

Poem of the Month: January

A poem by Marta Pessarrodona:

Anna Gorenko

Ever since, without your latent,
we have all been, more or less,
half nun and half harlot,
half cloistered, half streetwalker.

We haven’t had your sense of shame:
we lack the cleverness
of the secret surname,
the talent of a loud-sounding mask.

My poet didn’t value
white peacocks,
religious music,
or crumpled maps.

Like yours, however,
screaming children annoyed him,
and he didn’t crave after tea and jam
or hysterical ladies.

Our time, for sure,
has not been as pathetic as yours.
This is why, perhaps,
we must pay homage to you;

even more for your poems,
of such golden pins;
for your wisdom,
not even betrayals could conceal.

Also because they have sung more lines
to you than you ever wrote yourself;
so jealous, they wanted to immortalize you
with pencils, brushes and cameras;

and because you will always be
so far away and yet so close
to our victories,
to our downfalls.

Ever since, without your talent,
we have all felt like you,
half nun, half harlot,
so many days, on so many repeated occasions.

Translation by Sam D. Abrams.
For the original text in Catalan and more poems of Marta Pessarrodona, visit Lyrikline. In case you want to read about the Russian poet Anna Gorenko (pen name Anna Akhmatova), look here.

Teresa Pàmies: celebrating a centenary

One hundred years ago on 8 October 1919 author, journalist and political activist Teresa Pàmies was born in Balaguer (Lleida). Her work, consisting of novels, diary prose, narrative and article, is an alive witness of the Spanish Civil War and exile and has an autobiographical background.

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Apart from her literary work, Teresa collaborated in radio and press as well as in scientific and cultural magazines; she was also active in politics. For example, she joined the Unified Socialist Youth of Catalonia (1937), of which she would become the leader.

At the end of the Civil War that meant the Republican’s defeat two years later she marched into exile with her father, only to return in 1971 thanks to a visa to receive the Josep Pla Award for Testament in Prague (Testament a Praga).

This book contains a transcription of autobiographical memoires of her father Tomàs Pàmies, a Marxist politicial leader, alternated with messages and texts in which she is reflecting on communism, especially related to the Prague Spring (1968).

The English translation by Melissa Stewart titled Testament in Prague was published in 2005 by University Press of the South, New Orleans.

For more information on Teresa Pàmies, click here.

Poem of the month: September

A poem by Mireia Calafell:

Shedding

Slowly ─no other choice─, she takes off her clothes.
Shirt buttons are difficult for fingers
that tremble. And the trousers, the trousers
are a test of her balance, patience and dignity,
as if to say I cannot the way things are. How to put it, how things are.
When she is naked she gets dressed again, resuming the ritual.
And so until the end of the day, and the end of her days.

She cannot accept that only snakes, while shedding,
lose their scales and their wounds together.

The original text in Catalan was published in Tantes mudes (Perifèric edicions, 2014). Translation by Graciella Edo and Ester Pou.

For the Catalan text and more of her poems go to Lyrikline.

Motto

I am grateful to fate for three gifts: to have been born a woman, from the working class and an oppressed nation.

And the turbid azur of being three times a rebel.

Maria-Mercè Marçal (1952-1998), poet, novelist, editor and translator. The translation of this motto is by D. Sam Abrams.

The original text in Catalan has been painted on the wall of the Bar Patagònia, Carrer Abeurador, 14 in Banyoles.

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Literary route: Colometa and ‘The Time of the Doves’

Colometa, The ‘Pigeon Girl’, is the principal character of the novel “Plaça del Diamant’ (translated into English with the title of The Time of the Doves). Mercè Rodoreda wrote this novel in 1962 while she was in exile in Geneva, Switzerland, after the Spanish Civil War. This war and its aftermath play a big part in the book as well as Colometa’s struggle to find her independence.

The Foundation dedicated to the memory of author Rodoreda offers various literary routes; one of them visits the square “Plaça del Diamant’, the scene of the greater part of this novel.

The itinerary also includes the adjoining streets and squares that are the background of the lives of Colometa, Quimet, the chemist and so many other characters of this great work of Catalan as well as world literature. Wander through this area called ‘barri de Gràcia’ and imagine the scenes of the Civil War and post-war years, described in the book.

Other routes on this website take you to the area of Sant Gervasi and Rodoreda’s childhood, or the Rambla and its surroundings for an even better understanding of her books. Interesting guides for an entertaining morning or afternoon!

Photo: sculpture on the Plaça del Diamant depicting Colometa, the leading character in The Time of the Doves.

Poem of the Month: August

A poem by Dolors Miquel:

Paradise

If a man were to cross through Paradise in a dream, and they gave him a flower as a proof that he had been there, and if, upon awaking, he were to find that flower in his hand… what then? Coleridge

I crossed through Paradise in a dream
and they gave me a flower.
The flower was there when I woke up,
on the sheets. It was gorgeous.
I showed it to my mother
who lived shut up in the heart of an artichoke
weaving the silk from her eyes, working it
into marvellous shrouds of a thousand hues.
‘I’ve visited paradise, mother’, I told her.
And she took from her pocket
an identical dried flower.
Then I knew
a visit to paradise
was not enough.

The original text in Catalan was published in La flor invisible (Bromera Poesia, 2010). Translation by Peter Bush, Poetàrium (2010), IRLL.

For more of her poems, go to Lyrikline.

Marta Pessarrodona honoured

This morning the cultural organisation Òmnium Cultural has announced that author Marta Pessarrodona has been awarded the 51st Premi d’Honor de les Lletres Catalanes for her work as a poet, narrator, literary critic, translator, editor and essayist.

The jury praised her among other things for the constant dialogue she has established between Catalan and European literature, especially the Anglosaxon.

The following poem translated into English is symbolic for this connection, as it refers to three women poets (Maria Antònia Salvà, Caterina Albert and Clementina Arderiu) who wrote in Catalan.

FOR MARIA ANTONIA, CATERINA AND CLEMENTINA AND SO MANY, BUT NOT THAT MANY, OTHERS

I knew that you could,
despite a lot of things,
always explain to us
fragments of what we wanted.

I knew that you knew
far more than you wrote down,
were more daring, even,
than could have been expected.

I knew that there was, behind
so many obstacles, so many bolts,
so many doors, learned and locked,
a spring to ease thirst and hunger.

I knew that you had seeds of everything
(I’ve almost always known it)
beyond the patronising silence
it kept my style plain.

I knew I had to search you out
(rummage for out-of-print books),
to read you attentively, closely–you
forerunners of our fallen lives.

Translation: Poetry Ireland

Foto: Joan Cortadellas

Listen to ‘Pleasure of Living’, a poem by Montserrat Abelló

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This year we celebrate the life and work of poet Montserrat Abelló (#AnyMontserratAbello). Over the next months some of her poems will appear on this blog, beginning with an audio of ‘Pleasure of Living’, where you can hear the poet herself. In these verses she describes the joy of being alive, one of her main themes. Enjoy the poem!

Plaer de viure

Plaer de viure, d’estar
asseguda i contemplar
com cau la tarda.

Tarda d’un gris lluminós
ara que el dia s’allarga.
I ser feliç com Epicur

amb el poc que vull
al meu abast.
I, en no esperar

ja res d’un més enllà,
no tenir por de la vida
ni de la mort.

Pleasure of Living

Pleasure of living
To be seated gazing
at the fading afternoon

Today in a glittering grey
now that days become longer.
And to feel happy as Epicurus

with the few things I want
at arm’s reach.
And in not expecting

anything from an everafter,
not to be afraid of life
or death.

From: Memòria de tu i de mi
València: Edicions de la Guerra, 2006
Audio production: Institut Ramon Llull

For more videos and audios of poets and their work, go to Lyrikline.

Montserrat Abelló, poet

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Today, 1st February, is the one hundred years ago that Montserrat Abelló was born, a prolific poet full of energy who died in 2014 at the age of 96.

‘Abelló’s poetry, which has been collected into one volume entitled At the Heart of the Words. Collected poems 1963-2002, for which she received the 2003 Lletra d’Or Prize, is notable for a voice that is at once firm and intimate, and for its overall consistency and unity of direction. Although, when Abelló began to write, she was influenced by the socially committed poetry, her situation as a woman and mother after the birth of a mentally handicapped child pushed her into responding to her urge to write.

Over the years, her poetic expression would become sparer and increasingly refined. Themes like love, loneliness, the passing of time and poetic creation acquire in her poetry an incisive and personal touch, recalling the best of the twentieth-century English-language women writers.’

This quotation is the introduction to Abelló’s page Who I Am and Why I Write, where she tells more about her life and work. Read more

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