World Poetry Day

To celebrate this day two poems by Margarita Ballester (1941):

The vegetal dimension of time

Death comes to a stop over me;
it doesn’t scare me, but rather comes
under the heading of nuisance.
And life slips by, down the slope,
with its many surplus hours
while death grows in the trees
that are surviving in their place.
There echoes in my head, the vegetal
dimension of the time that I shall not live
and nor will they write for us:
the time of tortoises
and bibliophiles.

Post-scriptum

I shall hide my book,
and the bad luck of not having
more than life for writing.
Because I wanted it … All.

Translations: Julie Wark.

For more of her poems visit Lyrikline.

'Spring'

I have abandoned on the shore

-oh, fear, the fear!-

the tender nursing spirit

-fragrance and care.

For those who stole our spring

there can be no forgiveness.

Say it is so,

say it is no.

The once-lively flowers

-April and satin-

languish like our lives

with no direction,

not even fearless in dreams

-though once intrepid.

Too often I say no,

too often, yes.

The fogginess that haunts us,

-oh, for the sun!-

loses battles, wins battles,

-just hear the din!

Spring seems strange to us,

and the yes and the no.

Those who robbed us of spring

can know no mercy.

Clementina Arderiu (1889-1976)

Translation: Mary Ann Newman

For World Poetry Day (21 March).

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.

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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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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