Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Translation of poem by Mario Luzi

First Night of Spring

Something dies, something is born

the moment a rumble of thunder splits open

the upper reaches of the night, sudden

announcement of spring, rupturing sleep...

Generations on generations

of men, some defeated, some lifted

by their savage miseries,

ages thick with pain, one into the next,

onto one suffering, one single point,

bearing down, massing together, moaning

and creaking from pier to pier, the bridge

darkening toward the last span,

the tree at its limit, from root to fruit.

My hand is on the stitch of pain, I'm listening.

First night of spring, swelling

and lacerating, between becoming and being.

translation by Nick Benson of Mario Luzi (1914-2005), 'Prima notte di primavera,' Dal fondo delle campagne (1956-1961), in Tutte le poesie (Garzanti, 1988), p. 278.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Translation of poem by Mario Luzi

Between Night and Day

"What place is this?" my companion murmurs sleepily,

stirring himself, roused by the shuddering stop

of the train out on open rails.

"Somewhere on the way to Pisa" I answer,

watching the depths of gray where ash-violet mountains

sink into iris.

A stage in the to and fro

between house and country, between burrow and field,

I think, and of him who often speaks of our life

as the struggle of a strange animal between ant and mole.

There must be a thought

not unlike this one

that brings a guilty smile

to his lips, on his back, head against the seat, this early morning.

To die or give in under the yoke

of our species' meanness, I read

in that face, humble and eager,

trusting, of the good sort,

and yes, of the endless revolution at the gates.

"You too are in the game,

you also carry stones

stolen from the ravines

to the edifice," I'm thinking;

and I think of a love larger than my own

that overcomes repugnance

and with a more perfect wisdom takes the good

with the good, closing an eye on the corrupt and rotten.

The flame of swallows escapes,

shot down by the rain;

the railman's shout

that dies above sends off this procession

become lazy in thick grass.

"You have to grow; grow in love

and wisdom" confides the face,

sweating, defeated, in the light of uncertain day.

translation by Nick Benson of Mario Luzi (1914-2005), 'Tra notte e giorno,' Nel Magma (1961-1963), in Tutte le poesie (Garzanti, 1988), pp. 328-29. My notes from another life connect this poem to Montale's 'Voce giunta con le folaghe,' in La bufera e altro ...etc.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Stray Shot 2010 is now available as a downloadable pdf here.
The issue features work by Gunnery Poetry Contest winner Lauren Castaldi; translations from the Chinese of the poet Haizi, by Yuze Sun; poems by ASAP-honored and IMPAC/CSUS-recognized poet Alejandro Castro; and poems by Thom Hart, whose work appears in Connecticut Student Writers at UConn-Storrs. The issue also contains fantastic work by Isabel Levy-Nance, Chaoyang Liu, Zaid El-Fanek, and many other fine writers and artists (and here's a picture of a picture-taker - Zach Elston).

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pawn & Ammo

I remember being impressed by the number of PAWN & AMMO signs I saw in Memphis when I visited a few years ago. Actually, I'd never seen a sign like that before, so just one was enough to impress me.

Saw that bland feel-good movie that somehow managed to lift a corner of the real story only to have the whole mess flap back down just in time to save the audience from looking at what's truly going on - going on everywhere, but it seems especially in Memphis. It seems unintentionally appropriate, that title, The Blind Side. Just what blind side might that film be talking about? Film got an Oscar. It had just enough bite and charm, and it's already utterly forgotten. Unsettling. See the film and think about it, and you'll likely find its shallow treatment of some pretty deep issues unsettling too.

With Memphis on our minds here - a longtime friend who's a native Memphian feels compelled to leave because the place is going down the tubes so fast - we saw one of the more significant articles on the U.S. to be published in the NYT lately. Click on the link here to read the article.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I am not alone. I know a thousand times over that I am not alone. I only exist physically, intellectually, morally, because of millions of others who exist and have existed around me. This isn’t an abstract idea, it’s a slice of life, a simple part of reality. And to those others, I owe everything, absolutely everything, my name, my address, my nose, my skin, the color of my hair, my life and my most secret thoughts, my dreams, and even perhaps the place and hour of my death. And in the same manner that I have been formed, I form, and I make. I am at the same time, father, brother, friend, creator, destroyer, murderer. Who knows? To be born is to be plunged into a small universe, where the relations are without number, where each detail, each second that passes is important and leaves its traces.

JMG Le Clézio in ‘The Habit of Voyaging,’ conversation with Adam Gopnik, in PEN America #11 (2009).