Semana Poética VIII

Just one last reading tonight, a big dinner party here, and we're done. Attendance the past two nights has been fantastic. Last night over a hundred and fifty. Isabel was wonderful. Too tired and with too little time right now to reflect, but more later...
(In the photo, Isabel Pérez Montalbán.)



It's been a wonderful weekend. Alma and Cristina drove down from Ithaca Friday night. It was so great to see them! Asun and I were both feeling a little down after they left. But Elizabeth is here, Murphy is here... Antonio and Maria del Mar are here... Isabel got in late, late last night. (Well, more like early this morning...) A fun dinner last night. Paella. About twenty or twenty-five of us. Peter Pan was wonderful. Daniela has some serious stage presence. Well, now it's time to get ready for a lot of activity related to Semana Poética. In the photo: Neptune.


Morning nonsense

Writing as exercise. Therapy? Just whatever... just write. Doesn't have to make sense. Waldo barks. What sense does that make? A car horn toots. Daniela rushes out the door. Clouds hover. Baseball. News. Coffee. No stopping. Don't stop the keyboard, that is. Exercise the fingers. The mind. Not whatever, something. Some words. Any words. Beautiful. Ugly. A cloudy day after a beautiful day. A film, The Partner. It all goes by. Stories. A few remembered, most forgotten. A sip of coffee. Not particularly good coffee. Need to do something about that. Coffee in the morning should be superlative. The leaves are turning, falling. More apples. For eating, for carrot juice. For pies. And work. Not the apples. New words, dumb words. Put them together, mix them up. Up and down, back and forth. Big and small. What's going on here? A to do list. Can't remember so well. Run errands. Walk errands? Get blood taken. Routine. We hope. Why any of this? Don't ask. It's Tuesday morning and we are just getting started. Correct. Correct? Communicate, read. Keep trying. Someday it will make sense.
Ok, I got that out of my system. In the photo, a butcher stand in a market in Madrid. Now it's time to start thinking about being productive...


Anxious moment

It happens every once in a long while. And last night, in the predawn hours I got hit by it in a moment of restless half-sleep: where has the time gone? Where did my life go? Wasn't I just eighteen a moment ago? But it sure feels different now. Answers abound. Lament anything? Don't even think about it... Yes, our time here is fleeting, fleeting. But if I can just put aside cosmology for a moment, and center on how much can be experienced in a single day, all is good, even if it is dark and rainy. Nothing new here. But old stories keep getting told in new ways... (In the photo, a Basque goat.)


Herta Müller

This year's Nobel Prize for Literature was certainly a surprising choice. It seems they almost always are, especially in recent years. I met Hera Müller when she came to Dickinson for a residency back in 1996. Very quiet. And, happy coincidence, we are publishing some of her poems in the upcoming issue of SIRENA, which should have been out this week. (It did arrive, just now: beautiful! And we use one of Müller's poems, a cut-and-paste word collage, for the cover art; quite lovely.) Anway, Jorge Sagastume and I were asked for an article for the Harrisburg Patriot News. Here's the link to the article on the Romanian-born writer.


Back in Málaga

Wonderful to be back in Malaga! Towards the end of a very quick visit. The conference in Antequera was interesting; there were some excellent presentations. My paper went well, but towards the end I realized I had gone past my alloted time. My conclusion was a little abrupt; not my best ending, but overall it was fine. Was sorry I couldn't spend more time with some of the other participants. Very warm weather! This kind of travel is a little tiring. Wow! Last night I followed the Sox one-strike-away meltdown on Yahoo. Now I just read about it. Baseball is great fun in its unpredictability. It's not over until it's over. Ain't it the truth! It's also true that Papelbon had given many indications this year that his dominance is not what it was in the past few years. Oh well, let's be happy for the Angels.


Muñoz Rojas

Pre-departure madness. Tomorrow morning I leave for Malaga, and I 'm not ready. This is not an infrequent feeling for me: Wait. Not yet! Perhaps this is common to us winter babies born far from the equator. Hold on! Well, it will be a fun few days and with the brief voice mail left by María del Mar I can't help but feel more eager to go: make no plans for Friday night... everyone's coming over for dinner... On the other hand, the news last week that José Antonio Muñoz Rojas has died just one week short of his hundredth birthday was quite sad. I was so looking forward to finally meeting him. I guess it wasn't meant to be. But the conference/ homage goes on, and I think my talk will be fun, even though I'm not quite ready. I'll be talking about reading Muñoz Rojas in a wider, English-speaking context (I propose that being attuned to his interest in the relationship between poetry and philosophy will be quite helpful, as it's the best available path, I believe, for contextualizing his work), and will finish with a discussion of some of my ideas about translating his poetry. Yesterday I was finishing up translations of poems by Isabel Pérez Montalbán and Claudia Aburto Guzmán for our Semana Poética. I hope to see Isabel in Malaga. Too much translating in one day: ugghh, it got into my sleep (language!) and so here I am, not even five A.M. and up and at it...
On the home front: Daniela came out of ballet last night tired (a private class at 2:30, then class and rehearsals until 9:30, on a Monday, after a dozen hours of dancing over the weekend!), but oh so happy. And it wasn't about rehearsal. No, she is now the proud owner of seven or eight pairs of pointe shoes from... Ashley Bouder, star of New York City Ballet. (Top professional ballerinas get their shoes custom made and I guess these were trials. I don't know, but Bouder sent them here and they fit Daniela.) In any case, those are some serious shoes to fill! Did Yaz ever send me a glove or one of his bats? Did Bill Russell ever send me a signed basketball? Oh well, I'm happy for Daniela, and happy for me: hey, that's some serious money we just saved. I see the table in the back hall piled high with "old" pointe shoes and think, damn, get me some stock in one of those companies.
Speaking of money, on Saturday night CPYB had its first ever fundraising gala. It was a very nice and, I trust, successful event. Silent auction, live auction... food and drink... dancing... Daniela and some of the others did a brief scene from Peter Pan and then there was a short piece choreographed by Lazlo Bardo. Beautiful. Someone paid over $1500 for a one hour class with Marcia Dale Weary. Show the respect! Want some serious silliness: someone bid $500 for one of my paellas. OK, this is Carlisle, not the big city. No million dollar pledges, which is what the school could really use, but the spirit was right and the appreciation for what CPYB does, and Marcia in particular, was heartfelt and sincere.
And apples! A kitchen full of apples is a wonderful sight.



I don't know how the arabesque position in ballet came to be called such, but it makes perfect sense to me. The word means "in the Arabic style" and is most commonly used to refer to the repetition of geometric forms commonly observed in Islamic art. Think of the Alhambra! (The photo above is an image from a ceramic tile in the Alhambra. Star of David?) Well, I don't know that it makes any dance sense, but it sure makes metaphysical sense. Me explico: it seems to me that Islamic artists, in their insistent repetition of form, express a desire for infinity. It is, of course, an illusion. Or not? Here's the paradox: can we, if only for an instant, experience infinity? Which is to say, of course, immortality. It would certainly seem that the briefer the instant, the further we get from infinity. Alas, perhaps this is our error. Some instants are very, very intense, for lack of a better word. Transcendent? We transcend time. Our limits. After all, isn't this what happens in love? We experience, oh so fleetingly, atemporality, an intimation of immortality? (Billy baby, Oh Joy! Yes, there is a time when we are "Apparell'd in celestial light.") Such is life: these celestial dances are but brief, but we want more, and so we wish to see the dance go and on. I fear my ridiculous yearning for the never-ending tie ball game is related to this madness. Back to the ballet arabesque. There is a famous one at the end of the grand pas de deux in The Nutcracker. It's the culminating moment of that grand adagio when the music goes up, up, up... and stops. Hold it right there. The arabesque! It can only be a moment, but it's an instant I want to be held forever. The brief pause in the music, the ballerina transcending space in a flash of generous, gravity-defying equilibrium. (In the narrative, it's the moment when she screams: yes, I'm in love, all is good!) Plenitude? (I'm pretty illiterate when it comes to music, but if you ask me, Ravel's Bolero is an early example of the Post Modern sensibility: the self-conscious repetition takes this illusion to an extreme, leading to its inevitable crescendo of chaos...) But back to our world: the sun comes up over the Mediterranean. For a second it hovers, a beautiful globe, en pointe, bowing on the horizon. (Welcome to the universe, life goes on...) Hold it right there! Islamic artists: I share your pain. Let's pretend: repeat, repeat, repeat... on, and on, and on... Late, very late, one fall night Carlton Fisk, a big New Englander with an Islamic sensibility, hit a high, high fly ball (not really clobbered because he came around a little too fast and didn't completely center the fat part of the bat on the ball, but that's not important), this is it, the game, it seems everything, here... is it going to stay fair or go foul? The Question! Fair or foul, fair or foul... forever and ever. It's only a moment. Who cares! (Well, Carlton cared, he waved the damn thing fair, but that's another story...) For that too brief an instant father and son are absolutely tuned in to the same purpose, the same emotion, the same, shared anticipation of joy. Why does it end?