Transmedia Borders

The British Council in Mexico has just published Transmedia Borders, an online project in which 12 poets, visual and sound artists from Mexico, the United Kingdom and the USA explore the themes of borders, displacement, migration and freedom in today’s world. You can visit the project here:

Transmedia Borders

I contributed to the project a text titled ‘The Language of Where’, which you can read clicking on the following link:

The Language of Where

El British Council en México acaba de publicar Transmedia Borders, un proyecto en línea en el que 12 poetas, artistas visuales y sonoros de México, el Reino Unido y los Estados Unidos exploran los temas de las fronteras, el desplazamiento, la migración y la libertad en el mundo actual. Lo puedes visitar aquí:

Transmedia Borders

Yo contribuí con el texto “La lengua de dónde”, que puedes leer en el siguiente enlace:

La lengua de dónde

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Published in: on September 29, 2018 at 10:08 pm  Comments (2)  

11 de marzo / 11 March

Hoy parece casi primavera. Las tormentas de nieve (la luz, el silencio, la blancura) de hace algunos días parecen sueño. Algunos cerezos empiezan a florecer y asoman los narcisos. Ha sido un día de luz limpia y el mundo se muestra como celebración. 

Luego vino la lluvia, gentil; ya no lluvia de invierno, sino la luz y la frescura de un mundo que despierta. Todo canta a la vida: los edificios mojados vistos desde la ventana del autobús. Las luces encendidas. Gotas de agua brillando en los arbustos al caminar rumbo a casa. Veo la ciudad como por primera vez.

Hace siete años que falleció Rita Guerrero. De alguna forma, siempre parecerá ayer, y siempre parecerá imposible. Pero la melancolía, la serenidad con que he pasado el día absorta en su belleza, en el cariño de tanta gente cercana, hablan de que sí, ha pasado el tiempo y podemos celebrar la vida y la obra de Rita con un inmenso abrazo colectivo, con igualmente colectiva gratitud, sabiendo que sigue con nosotros.

Estos días se ha estrenado en el Festival de Cine de Guadalajara Rita, el documental, opera prima de Arturo Santana. Es un homenaje digno y fruto de amoroso trabajo. Lo vi en casa de Arturo en octubre pasado, y me entristece no estar en Guadalajara ahora, viéndolo junto con otros, con tanta gente que quiere y extraña a Rita, en la pantalla grande.

Llegando a casa me he puesto a ver los videos en vivo tras la proyección de la película. Me ha alegrado ver a los amigos, a la familia de Rita, a Aldo, al ya no tan pequeño Claudio, aunque la fecha tenga tristeza para nosotros. Arturo, Aldo y todos los que trabajaron en la película contra viento y marea de alguna manera han transmutado la tristeza del aniversario en celebración. Lo agradezco, y agradezco también haber podido escuchar, desde el otro lado del Atlántico, al público, sus propias historias sobre cómo sus vidas fueron tocadas por la música, y por la belleza, justamente, para la que Rita vivió.

Enlace a la página de Rita, El documental

Today feels almost like Spring. The snow storms (their light, the silence and whiteness) of a few days ago seem like a dream. Some cherry trees have started blooming and daffodils can be spotted here and there. It has been a day of pure light and the world is manifest as celebration. 

Later came the rain, gentle, no longer winter rain but the light and freshness of a world awakening. Everything is a song for life – the wet buildings seen from the bus window; the lights inside; raindrops gleaming on the bushes as I walk back home. I see the city as if for the first time. 

It’s been seven years since Rita Guerrero passed away. Somehow it will always feel like yesterday, and it will always seem impossible. But the melancholy and serenity in which I have spent the day, absorbed in its beauty and in the love of so many people close to me are saying that indeed time has passed, and we can celebrate Rita’s life and work in a huge collective embrace and equally collective gratitude, knowing that she’s still with us.

These days have seen the premiere of Rita, el documental, Arturo Santana’s opera prima, at Guadalajara’s Film Festival. It is a dignified homage and the fruit of loving work. I saw it at Arturo’s house last October, and I’m saddened not to be in Guadalajara now, watching it along with others, with so many people who love and miss Rita, in the big screen.

As I got back home I watched the live videos after the film was shown. I’ve been happy to see friends, Rita’s family, Aldo and Claudio (not so little anymore), even if this day holds sadness for us. Arturo, Aldo and all those who worked in the film against all odds have somehow transmuted the sadness of the anniversary into celebration. I am grateful, and I’m also grateful for having been able to listen to the audience from across the Atlantic – their stories about how their lives were touched by music, and by beauty, precisely – the beauty Rita lived for. 

Enlace a la página de Rita, El documental

Published in: on March 11, 2018 at 10:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Poemas – Sean O’Brien – Poems

You can find in the link below three poems by Sean O’Brien that I translated recently for Confabulario, the cultural supplement of Mexican newspaper El Universal. The original poems are included in his book The Beautiful Librarians, Picador, 2015:

http://confabulario.eluniversal.com.mx/decimos-la-proxima-vez-nos-vamos-fuera/

En este enlace pueden leer tres poemas de Sean O’Brien que traduje recientemente para Confabulario, el suplemento cultural del diario mexicano El Universal. Los poemas originales están incluidos en su libro The Beautiful Librarians, Picador, 2015.

Published in: on January 25, 2018 at 1:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

En México / In Mexico

Pronto estaré en la Ciudad de México, participando en la Feria del Libro del Zócalo. Las fechas de la misma tuvieron que recorrerse debido al terremoto del 19 de septiembre, pero sí se realizará, ahora del 12 al 22 de octubre.

Es un esfuerzo enorme para los organizadores sacar adelante la FIL tras la terrible tragedia que ha estado viviendo la Ciudad de México y buena parte del país (como si nos faltaran tragedias a los mexicanos), y es un esfuerzo que me alegra y agradezco muchísimo. La FIL del Zócalo es ejemplar; la anima un espíritu generoso y combativo de defensa y difusión de la literatura que en estos momentos necesitamos con mayor urgencia.

Los invito entonces a la presentación de Centres of Cataclysm, la antología que celebra los 50 años de Modern Poetry in Translation, el lunes 16 de octubre a las 3.00 pm en el marco de la FIL. El evento está siendo organizado por Modern Poetry in Translation y el Periódico de Poesía, y habrá poesía traducida al español de varios idiomas, enfatizando la función de la poesía como un puente que rebasa todas las fronteras.

Por otra parte, el 27 de octubre se presentará mi libro Con tu corazón y otros cuentos en el Centro de Creación Literaria Xavier Villaurrutia. Me acompañarán Ana García Bergua, Verónica Murguía y Cintia Neve.

¡Ojalá puedan asistir!

Soon I will be in Mexico City, taking part in the Zócalo Book Fair. Its date had to be changed because of the earthquake of 19 September, but it will indeed happen, now from October 12 to 22.

It is a huge effort for the organizers to pull the Book Fair through after the enormous tragedy that Mexico City and a large part of the country have been going through (as if we Mexicans needed more tragedies!), and I am grateful for such an effort, that really gladdens me. The Zócalo Book Fair is exemplary; it is driven by a generous and spirited commitment to the defense and promotion of literature that we need with more urgency in moment such as this. 

At the book fair we will launch in Mexico Centres of Cataclysm, the anthology that celebrates the 50 years of Modern Poetry in Translation, on Monday 16 October, at  3.00 pm. The event is being organized by Modern Poetry in Translation and the Periódico de Poesía, and it will feature poetry translated into Spanish from several languages, highlighting poetry’s power to bridge all borders. 

Also, on 27 October my book Con tu corazón y otros cuentos will be launched at the Centro de Creación Literaria Xavier Villaurrutia. I’ll be accompanied by Ana García Bergua, Verónica Murguía and Cintia Neve.

 

 

Published in: on October 4, 2017 at 9:57 pm  Comments (2)  

Triratna calls for end of violence in Myanmar

Leaders of the Triratna Buddhist Order have just released a statement urging the government in Burma/Myanmar and the Buddhist population there to take steps to end the violence against, and displacement of, non-Buddhist minorities in the region.

You can read the whole statement here:

https://thebuddhistcentre.com/system/files/groups/files/burmastatement2017b.pdf#overlay-context=news/statement-against-buddhist-violence-burmamyanmar-0

Published in: on September 14, 2017 at 10:02 am  Leave a Comment  

Poems at Kensal Green Dissenters’ Chapel, and a workshop

On Wednesday 16 August several poets and I will be reading poetry at Kensal Green Dissenter’s Chapel.

The reading is part of the Worm Wood exhibition by Tereza Stehlikova and SJ Fowler. There will also be an audio installation performance.

Doors open at 7 and the event is free. Please note that the door will remain closed from 8 pm till the end of the event. You can find more information in the following link:

http://www.theenemiesproject.com/dissenterschapel

I hope you can join us for the evening!

And as I said in my former blog post, from 2 October to 12 November I will be leading an online literary workshop (in Spanish) at Central de Escritura: “Escribir lo invisible”.

You can find the information in Spanish below:

https://centraldeescritura.com/cursos/escribir-lo-invisible/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on August 13, 2017 at 10:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Taller literario en Central de Escritura

Del 2 de octubre al 12 de noviembre impartiré un taller literario en línea en Central de Escritura: “Escribir lo invisible”.

Puedes encontrar la información en este enlace:

https://centraldeescritura.com/cursos/escribir-lo-invisible/

From 2 October to 12 November I will be leading an online literary workshop (in Spanish) at Central de Escritura: “Writing the Invisible”.

 

 

 

Published in: on August 6, 2017 at 11:34 am  Leave a Comment  

This Moment’s True Flowers

It has become grimly familiar – the horrific news; the frantic media coverage (often the disturbing offspring of information and a ghoulish sense of entertainment). The flood of opinions, which are nothing but our desperate attempt to force reality to mirror the deep-seated frameworks through which we seek to understand the world; the delusion of certainties that is expressed in screams as the mere notion of stability starts to give in. We humans can get used to almost anything, and in what seems no time at all we’ve learnt to navigate the stories of victims, heroes and perpetrators, the maps made of the faces of strangers who’ve suddenly become part of our own story. In the case of the terrorists’ face, what has also become familiar is the sense of incomprehension; our need, on looking at their photograph, to understand how it is possible that behind those human eyes there can exist such violence, such limitless hatred, such disconnection of all bonds with fellow human beings.

I’m thinking, for instance, of the attack outside the Finsbury Park mosque in London this week. I do wonder where this man, whose name Darren Osborne has immediately seeped into the litany of new familiar names hanging from each atrocity, had been throughout the whole of the past couple of weeks, that he couldn’t feel the pall of grief fallen over London on the wake of the London Bridge attack, and just a few days later, the Grenfell Tower tragedy; that he could even contemplate to add some more, or how indeed did he manage not to notice the surge of, precisely, human bonding among people from all backgrounds, races, religions or no religion at all who’ve been weaving beauty out of horror through the sheer recognition of themselves in another. His actions were not only horrific, but oddly disjointed at such a moment – he had chosen indeed to remain in the margins of the human community.

But then again, you will say, how could he have possibly noticed all the above, buffered as he was by the alienation of his choice, and you’ll be right. The word “choice” though is a difficult one here, because he did choose to do what he did, and went through the motions quite deliberately, yet the pathetic picture emerging from the little we now know of him is that of what his relatives are claiming him to be: a man “with problems”. Mental health problems in particular.

Which adds to the difficulty, because then they went on to say that he’s therefore not a terrorist. We understand their pain, their shock, and they are saying one truth, that this man has mental health problems. But he also is a terrorist, and in fact there are quite a few similar stories behind many of the terrorists involved in the recent attacks in Britain and abroad which are part of our new familiar baggage of grim knowledge.

Osborne’s story reads, for instance, quite similar to that of Khalid Masood, who while burning in what must have been unbearable personal unhappiness one day this Spring decided to go and kill innocent people on Westminster Bridge.

In the utmost depths of truth, as I hinted in a recent blog post, it is perhaps unwise to hold onto words and labels such as “terrorist” or “mental health problems”, because ultimately what we are witnessing is the truly nameless essence of violence and pain that has always accompanied human history. However, we can’t dwell on the deepest truth only all the time. We must engage with our world in practical ways as well, join into the dialogue with our fellow citizens, strive at common understanding and universal justice, so if the radical Islamist fundamentalists killing people for the reasons they do are called terrorists, then Osborne is also, with not a shadow of a doubt, a terrorist.

All this is extremely trying for our sense of justice and ethics, for our need to understand. I’ve also said in a former post that these people do not really have a cause other than their own suffering, their own “lostness”. Both Islamic jihadists and the far right recruit many vulnerable people, and this doesn’t even happen in ways that we can recognize from the times when the term “terrorism” was coined to mean what we understand by it. The pattern now, in the cities of Europe at least, is often that of the lone, desolate broken soul picking a “cause”, whatever cause, to vent their rage, on occasion  joined by a pal  or two, so terrorism now is just another word for the alienation that makes a human being capable of expressing their rage through the willful harming of others.

The lack of a real cause is evident in the response of both radical Islamic jihadists and the far-right fundamentalists in the wake of the recent wave of terrorism. Their language of hatred, abuse and name-calling is indistinguishable from each other. It reflects a puerile inability to acknowledge the humanity of others, and the message is the same: there have been innocent people murdered, so let’s go and kill some more.

The impersonal nature of the recruiting is in itself a hallmark of that alienation. Troubled people can simply pick up the idea from internet, then follow through by imitation, just the way they might  become fans of a new band  in You Tube or copy the latest fashion in the high street, if they were a bit less troubled.  One of the many horrifying aspects of  this  reality is that our terrorists behave not unlike the consumers we all are to a greater or lesser extent in a society weighed down by a glut of information. I suspect that to better understand this new form of terrorism we should, among the most obvious causes, reflect deeply also about the relationship between lack of empathy and the ever greater number of human lives being lived almost exclusively through a machine. There are plenty of studies being carried out about the damage caused to the parts of our brain responsible for our capacity for empathy because of ever-increasing time filtering reality through a screen. I believe that there is a chance that to at least some of the broken people who commit these atrocities, there is no difference between their actions and virtual reality.

If this sounds  farfetched,  just think for one second about how we tend to consume the news of the carnage. Some media even musicalize their newsreel videos, as if they were disaster  movies, which I think the reader might agree is particularly obscene. There have been survivors filming themselves as they run away from danger, as if our mobile phones were our only claim to reality even in the most extreme situations. In our age, human pain has become a spectacle to a degree that the ancient Romans would have killed for…

Our new terrorists are just some of the actors.

If we really want to tackle in all seriousness the urgent question that is now seeking us out, we’ll have to admit, hard as it seems in the face of unspeakable acts committed out of hatred, that the people carrying them out are, simultaneously, worthy of compassion, and people who must face fully the consequences of their actions, and who must be stopped from going on spreading harm. How we’re going to marry these two seemingly irreconcilable tasks, I don’t know, but I do know that it is essential that we address both, if we want to come out of this mess in any way that resembles a humanity worth its name.

Our dilemma is no different from that of the man who, an innocent already nailed to the cross more than 2000 years ago, had the courage and the wit to ask his god for forgiveness for brutal people who knew not what they were doing. The profoundest ethical questions often involve extremity, now, always and forever. Even if we find ourselves incapable of comprehending the dimensions of actions such as those keeping us awake now, it is still within our reach to look at what is happening in our schools, in our prisons, in the underworld of the world-wide web, and at what kind of shadows are breeding in the many cracks opened by social inequality and the bloodied greed of international politics. The fact cannot have escaped us that a great number of the radicalized jihadists are people (usually men, usually young) whit only a vacuum where some notion of future should have been, or, in some countries, people who actually join the ranks of jihad simply as a means for subsistence, a pattern as old as mankind and brutally exemplified as well in other conflicts, such as that of the drug cartels in Mexico.

I lived in Finsbury Park for several years and only moved out recently. It breaks my heart that this week’s attack took place in what were my everyday surroundings. I visited the mosque on open days. People there are most kind and welcoming. The mosque is an essential part of the area’s community.

It is true that far too many of us do not know enough of each other; that far too many of us keep to our own communities conformed only by those who mirror us, and that we are all the poorer for it. However, and in the midst of the horror, grief and fear sown by a few wrecked individuals, something else is blossoming – something quite other from what the attackers have in mind. Support and solidarity, words mentioned very often these days, don’t really mean much until you’re there, standing in the places where the recent tragedies have happened. The messages of unequivocal love from strangers to strangers in the recognition of our common humanity are more than touching: they are an affirmation of life, with all the artificial constrains broken. These woeful months have gathered people who cry together in the streets, who embrace each other, who stand together in sonorous silence, who flood the places where blood was spilt with candles and flowers, who hold hands across the bridge were bodies lay, and who also laugh and share life together. We’ve had people from all religions and none expressing this instinctive recognition, the exact opposite of the alienation of hatred; the people, for instance, who gave flowers to the Muslims going to prayer outside the Finsbury Park mosque. In return, yesterday (Friday the 23rd of June) the mosque invited everybody to their Solidarity Street Iftar. Despite the sadness for what has happened, it was a celebration of unity, a most generous act of sharing (the sadness, the determination to stand united, the flowers, plus quite delicious food!), and therefore joyful.

Last week I was volunteering to sort out donations for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. I am bad at calculating crowds but it seemed to me that this was a spontaneous team of probably hundreds of people working together. Because the impromptu relief hub was just outside the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, and because so many of those affected by the fire were Muslims, though there were volunteers from all walks of life and races, most of them were Muslim, and most of them quite young.

It is difficult to put into words the mixed emotions: the horror at what had happened, the bottomless sadness, the fury, and yet the sense of lightness, even joy of being working together, so many, quite different among us, and in particular with so many extraordinarily lively, efficient and kind youths who at the moment, because of their religion, are not only under the threat, like every single one of us, of what we call,  for want of a better term, radical Islamic terrorism, but on top of that, under the threat of Islamophobia. You need courage to face such threats with such lightness and grace as the people I briefly worked with last week, and I feel very grateful for having had the chance to do so.

What has been happening in Britain in these which are usually the most glorious months of the year, yet so bleak in 2017, is so much, so horrid and with so many layers of complexity that it may well do our heads in if we’re not careful. It is, for instance, bewildering that negligence and indifference towards the lives of others, expressed through probable corruption and the harassing of residents who raised the alarm about a building’s safety issues, have taken more lives than four terrorist attacks in a row put together – and that in what is reportedly the richest borough in this country.

The people responsible for that negligence and indifference suffer too from the alienation that affects the terrorists, even if they don’t notice their own numbness. The negation of the other is, beyond all labels, the real evil.

In the midst of so much gloom, our society is changing. Proof of that are not only the results of the recent elections. Quite independent of our political inclinations, the spontaneous outpour of solidarity and togetherness that the recent tragedies have brought about is the most powerful voice of change, a voice that pleads to be listened to no matter how ominous the threats become.

True, there has been an enormous raise of attacks inspired by Islamophobia after the Manchester and Westminster and London Bridge attacks; there have been isolated incidents of anger after the Grenfell Tower fire getting out of hand, with an innocent man (a volunteer in fact in the effort to help the victims) reportedly beaten up, and the Islamic jihadists are exploiting every single event to call for more carnage. But the vast majority of people keep on responding to the atrocities with compassion, solidarity, courage, togetherness, generosity and inexhaustible kindness.

That the Finsbury Park mosque’s imam, Mohammed Mahmoud, managed to stop an angry mob from hurting Darren Osborne (things could have become quite more horrible otherwise); that paramedics tried to save Khalid Masood’s life with the same care that they put in trying to save the lives of his victims after the Westminster Bridge attack, are actions perhaps not really heroic, as we are calling them, but something much more transcendent: our humanity taking hold of ordinary people thrown into the worst circumstances. Every single member of our emergency services involved in rescuing and helping others, in saving lives and bringing comfort throughout the recent atrocities deserve all our praise, admiration and gratefulness precisely because they bear testimony to that humanity. Just think of those who are even now trying to rescue the bodies of victims in the Grenfell Tower. Of the ambulance crews, who have seen what they have seen. Of the firemen and women and police officers risking their lives at the several scenes. Of the doctors and nurses tending victims with injuries that you only expect to see in wartime.

All this is not only laudable. It is not only a reason for hope. It is hope itself, embodied. And that’s the only one we have: ourselves, our hearts.

This is why I fail to comprehend what was going through the mind of those who decided to call last Wednesday’s confused and confusing demonstration for justice for the victims of Grenfell Tower “A Day of Rage”, just two days after rage led a man to mow down innocent civilians with a rented van. It’s hard to think of something more insensitive, more tactless, and it’s no wonder that many of the survivors of the fire were upset.

Sure, there are absolutely legitimate reasons for anger, for rage. But rage as a cause is just more fire, blindly burning whatever crosses its path. I can’t doubt that many of the terrorists responsible for the atrocities taking place all over the world have had enough personal, legitimate causes for feeling rage. What we know of the stories of some reveals evident wells of suffering. And yet, see what happens when they hold onto their rage alone. After the dazzling, yet quite simple beauty of the innumerable acts and signs of solidarity from ordinary citizens in the wake of the recent tragedies (and all of us are certainly furious about what happened in the Grenfell Tower), and with all the grieving taking place right now, couldn’t they really think of a more apt name for their demonstration?

I read reports of the demonstration from all sorts of press, looking for a balanced perspective. I saw some videos. Sure, there were many people there sincerely voicing their legitimate anger and pain. There were also many others hijacking the tragedy to fuel their own personal, little ideologies, thus negating the humanity of those they’re supposedly demonstrating for. That is despicable, and also boring: it happens all the time, everywhere. So let’s move on. When things get as serious as they are now, to remain anchored in adolescence isn’t helpful. Anger certainly stirred a great deal of the way people voted in the past general election: anger calling for hope, not for self-immolation in the name of rage.

What we have to honour is visible all around us: the hundreds of people coordinating help for the victims of the fire; the messages of solidarity, the donations, the aid appeals for the victims of the five greatest tragedies in the UK this year coming from all over the country; the floods of flowers; the togetherness of most of us, of all ages and races and classes, religions and nationalities; the kindness that has flourished among many in daily life in our busy streets; our unity in the face of our vulnerability, these most stark reminders of our mortality, for surely many of us are afraid, and often plunging into the question, akin to despair, “How can we do these things to one another?”. There is far more courage in accepting that vulnerability and being determined nevertheless to stand together, than in using the language of conflagration.

Perhaps this blog spot is rambling. I have no answers at all, I suspect none of us really does. But it seems to me most urgent to concentrate on the miracle of unity that is making us really care for each other, know each other. Again paraphrasing William Blake, we become what we behold. Whatever the future brings, however grim, the love and compassion we show to each other will keep on being the flowers that can never wither.

[If you came here looking for information on the problems surrounding Blake’s Cottage please go to https://blakecottage.com/blog/  . My testimony is now complete in the “My Testimony” section.]

 

 

 

 

Being human

I find there isn’t much to say. The more we desperately grasp at explanations, with the illusion that we know, and that what we think we know will make us safer, the farther we get from the only thing we do know – that this, all this, is being human.

Those who have been closer to the attacks in Britain in the past few months, those who have felt the terror, the grief, those who have been there to help and keep company to others, those who have been saving lives, know what I am trying to say, what I can only have glimpses of, and for which I find no words.

It is the same with all those in the face of brutality and blind, mindless hatred all over the world, and it has always been: this is being human. I am talking of the extremities of love, compassion and solidarity that flow in the face of horror.

But I am also talking of fear, the knee-jerk reactions triggered by fear. And then, there is what we call evil, because a word had to be found for what is simply too dark, too incomprehensible, too slippery for words. That is also a face (the dark face) of being human. A seed in all of us. We fool ourselves if we believe it belongs only in some other people’s hearts. Those who commit these atrocities fool themselves too: it is not a “cause”. It is not their cause. They have no cause. They are just human, sinking in the dark side. And thus it has been for as long as there is any memory of our presence in this world.

As a society, we do what we have to do, or at least what we can, in practical terms, to protect ourselves. We try to find out what that may be. Our vulnerability is a wake up call. As the individuals we are within society, there is only one path away from darkness. Love. Compassion. Solidarity. They may not make me necessarily safer. But there is really no other way to live our lives, not in the face of so much grief, everywhere.

This has been a strange week for me. A visit to A&E (kindness and only kindness). Some by now customary dealings with some rather pathetic iniquities. The news of the death of a dear pupil of mine. The usual struggles of every day life. The always unusual joys, since joy is never dull or repetitive. Then last night’s news. Today, a whole day of collective meditation and silence, at some point outside in the park, walking, and perhaps it’s never been clearer to me how vulnerable we all are, and how fleeting our lives. How precious, every single one. How impossibly red the red roses are.

Then talking with friends in a garden, sprinkled with yellow poppies.

Being human. So much grief, and yet so much beauty, such inexhaustible beauty in this wounded world of us, in these our fearful hearts.

 

 

Published in: on June 4, 2017 at 10:42 pm  Comments (1)  

Primavera y cultura

Les comparto un texto que escribí hace aproximadamente un mes, cuando la primavera estaba en su apogeo.

Below is something I wrote (in Spanish) around a month ago, when Spring blossoms were at their peak.

Cultura y primavera

Empieza con el primer cerezo. Espejismo de lo que vendrá en los días aún fríos. Se acerca: la promesa de Keats, cíclica liturgia de la esperanza. Unos días más y ya son llamarada los narcisos, junto al violeta nocturno del azafrán de primavera.

Las semanas que siguen son una explosión continua. Blancos y rosados los cerezos y almendros, pétalos en la brisa como un velo que se entreabre hacia otra realidad. Contemplándolos entendemos, por supuesto, que eso es la realidad. Cada árbol, desmañado y joven o en añosa plenitud, es un estallido de gozo, una guía en el camino. ¡Que pueda existir tanta belleza! Y luego, las magnolias. La del jardín de enfrente es motivo sobrado para no volver a cuestionar jamás el sentido de la existencia. Las flores carnosas dicen algo urgente que no sé qué es. (Flores hermosas, terminales, solitarias, dice la RAE.) La magnolia es como un dios (por algún motivo parece más goddess en inglés), y entiendo la fiereza del alma pagana de este pueblo de aparente blandura que cuida, callado, sus jardines.

Durante semanas enteras no hay noticia más digna de mención que los árboles en flor, sus sutiles cambios, o la aparición de las camelias encendidas de la noche a la mañana.

Una tarde salgo rumbo a Notting Hill, a una lectura de poesía. Hace años que no voy por allá. Desde el segundo piso, el viaje en autobús sigue siendo una vía urbana directa a cierta forma de nirvana. El viento lo limpia todo. El frío es intenso. La luz, todavía más. ¡Cómo enciende la entraña del ladrillo ubicuo, ese horno de muros transfigurados de que hablara Machen! Resalta la nobleza que siempre tienen las calles y balcones desconocidos. El recorrido lo apuntalan cerezos y magnolias despeinados en el aire. Absorta en el espectáculo intangible (todo acabará pronto, cuando se esconda el sol), escucho una voz desde el otro lado del pasillo: “Es hermosa, ¿verdad? La luz de Inglaterra”. Vamos en el mismo viaje.

Empezamos a señalar las múltiples escenas prodigiosas: un destello en el hierro del balcón; fuego en un edificio centenario que ocupa un ángulo peculiar en una esquina; la intensidad con que los muros encalados devuelven el fulgor. ¡Y las flores, las flores! Somos como niños, multiplicada la alegría por compartida. “It’s the gloaming”, me dice. Otra forma, de origen escocés, de definir el ocaso en estas islas. Bajo del autobús, yo también enardecida. Conozco una palabra nueva.

 

En el evento, una poeta de Corea del Sur lee poemas hermosos fracturados de violencia. Al día siguiente un alma rota siembra muerte y desesperación en el puente de Westminster. Lo que estalla es sangre de nuestros semejantes.

A la semana recibo una encuesta por email. Me piden calificar el evento de poesía. Pequeña fractura en el tejido del día. ¿Qué es esto? Me doy cuenta de que la fractura es continua: todos esos boletines, invitaciones, la gargantuesca “oferta cultural” de esta ciudad. Me deja exhausta, embotada, sin haber acudido siquiera a algún evento. Toda esa información maravillosa en línea, y artículos, ensayos, me llega como algo que tengo que saber, deglutir y “dominar” al instante. No como un descubrimiento. ¿Qué es la cultura?

Me dedico a cazar árboles por todos los parques, todas las calles. La magnolia frente a mi casa ya soltó sus flores, pero las de Kenwood House están en su apogeo, y los rododendros empiezan a salir. En Hampstead Heath irrumpen los jacintos bajo los narcisos ya secos. Pronto los castaños abrirán sus racimos de flores como velas. En una calle, un cerezo monumental que alcanza el cuarto piso de un edificio de departamentos deja caer un hechizo de pétalos, lluvia de entre nieve y plata. Y si me entristezco porque las flores de cerezo de mi calle ya se han ido para abrir paso al verdor, sus pétalos todavía cubren la acera y, más oscuro, revienta en flor el ciruelo al otro extremo de la calle. La gente está feliz por los árboles, aunque muchos no lo saben. Algunos no los ven en todo el año, van con los ojos pegados a la pantalla de su celular.

Voy a la presentación del libro Ayotzinapa. Horas eternas. Complicada conjunción de nobleza hablando de la barbarie. Leo el libro. Ni una respuesta puede llenar la pregunta ¿por qué?.

Defending progressivism”, reza un letrero en el café. Otro día, una conversación sobre la lucha LGBT y una miríada de etiquetas nuevas como perro que se muerde la cola, como si nunca antes hubieran existido hombres con maquillaje, mujeres que son más que mujeres, espíritus sin género, otros mundos libres, libres de verdad, reales o al menos imaginados donde no tuviéramos que gritar, aterrados, “¡Yo soy esto!”

Tribus. Tráilers matan gente en las ciudades de Europa. Bombas estallan en Egipto. Detecto un infinitesimal sentido de alerta si un auto acelera de cierta forma. Estamos más prestos a correr, pero no hay miedo aparente. Sólo vida. Londres es un parque, y su florecer es la sabiduría secreta de las cosas.

Somos lo que siempre fuimos. Figuras en la calle, en el parque, un cuadro en un museo que alguien ve dentro de cien años.

Resuenan Rusia, Estados Unidos, Corea del Norte. Trump. Trump. Trump. Un estremecimiento en el ocaso. Los misiles nucleares son reales. Dáesh degüella, quema mujeres vivas. Y no aparecen nuestros desaparecidos.

Los que siempre hemos sido, mientras en los muros empieza a caer en racimos la glicina melancólica. ¿Qué nos queda? ¿Llorar bajo el cerezo?

¿O la alegría, la exaltación, la reverencia porque el cerezo existe?

Adriana Díaz Enciso

Published in: on May 29, 2017 at 4:25 pm  Leave a Comment