Photo Credit: magical_world
The Chilean Nobel Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda owned three homes in Chile–two outside Santiago and one in Barrio Bellavista in Santiago. His home in Bellavista is named after his third wife Mathilde: “La Chascona” which pays tribute to her unruly hair.
Neruda was one of the strongest influences during my graduate studies in poetry. His use of the sea, death, harvest, and light is potent. I always imagined that his home would be full of pretty odds and ends like the lyrical inspirations that poets often collect for their work. We are like scavengers, often with a penchant for eccentric collections outside of language.
Photo Credit: Bracani….Antonio
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
Write for example, ‘The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.’
The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.
A portion of Pablo Neruda’s poem XX, Twenty Love Poems and a
Song of Despair
There are mosquitos the size of bats on the ceiling. I’ve been grading papers for 12 hours now. In the courtyard, the beagle still bays out every day. He’s been joined by a cat that sometimes yowls for hours. I am going to miss this courtyard, especially the mornings heavy with rain, the cool patter on the tiles outside.
I look out into the night and see the lit lives of families. Those that dine at 10 p.m. passing salad around the table. Our mysterious next door neighbors who come by once a week to use the apartment as a party base. The woman who sweeps her balcony as her bull terrier tries to bite the broom.
Do they see me? The room darkly lit by a small table lap. Me at the computer, with white pajama pants, navy slippers, and a glass of wine. This girl who sits at the computer every day and every night. They can see me perfectly, as I can see them.
I found this vintage video of two of my favorite salsa singers–Marc Anthony and La India. This song always makes my heart soar–I have to sway my hips to it. The singers were just starting out as artists when they recorded this song together. La India is holding a cigar while singing, an homage to her late grandmother. Marc is a little flat sometimes, but I still love their vocal chemistry. (I think he’s improved a little bit.)
The lyrics to this song seem inspired by Neruda:
En un llano tan inmenso
tan inmenso como el cielo
voy a podar un jardin
para que duerma tu cuerpo
en un mar espeso y ancho
mas ancho que el universo
voy a construir un barco
para que nade en el sueno
In plains as immense
as immense as the sky
I’m going to place a garden
where your body can sleep.
In a sea as expansive and deep
more deep than all the universe
I’m going to construct a boat
for you to swim in dreams
Are there any salsa (or tango) songs that make your heart soar–that have been overplayed on your Discman or iPod but you keep coming back?
Please indulge me in some non-Buenos Aires related news. One of my friends, an enormously talented and humble poet named Valzhyna, has a new book entitled Factory of Tears. Her second book of poetry was published by my all-time favorite press, the well respected Copper Canyon.
The press has published some of my writing “mentors” and deep imagist poets such as W.S. Merwin, Marvin Bell, and Pablo Neruda.
Valzhyna is from Belarus and writes in Belarusian. Her work is emphatic–her words are sparse, clipped, and click to the tongue. I firmly believe she is one of our generation’s best young writers and can’t wait to see what’s in store for her. The writer Franz Wright is translating her work.
Filed under Arts, Literature