Saturday, May 27, 2017

Verano / Summer

I submitted the following five search terms to Google images:




and the above image is what they came up with. And why did I do that?

Because those were the five words I contributed to Charles Olsen's Palabras Prestadas [Given - or loaned - words] project last month. In Spanish, they translate as:




And now the results are in!

Here is the winning entry among the many submitted poems (more of which you can sample at your leisure here):



Acabo de instalar un columpio en el árbol que hay detrás de mi casa. No tiene nombre.
Ni siquiera sé si alguien lo va a usar alguna vez. Tenía los materiales y lo hice. Punto.
Noto, sin embargo, la ilusión de la promesa en las caras de la gente que mira el columpio.

Pongo bajo el agua el bote de cristal para quitar la etiqueta. Ojalá fuera tan fácil.
Yo lo intento bajo la ducha todos los días. Unos segundos bajo el chorro y fuera etiquetas.
Pero no. Nunca es tan fácil. Al revés, me da por pensar en la ducha. Y no me sienta bien.

El gato bebe del bote limpio de etiquetas. Seguro que a él le importa un pito.
Mi padre las coleccionaba. Con mimo y paciencia, ablandaba el papel sin romperlo.
Solo se permitía ser delicado con esa artesanía cotidiana. En lo demás era como debía, supongo.

La piedra está vieja pero hace posible una pequeña llama. Como si fuera a ser la última.
Guardo el mechero cuando noto que la vela prende. La coloco con cuidado en la repisa del balcón.
Me siento en un taburete. La corriente que viene de la ventana apaga la llama. Pronto se hará de noche.

Jöel López Astorkiza
Haro, La Rioja, España

And here it is translated into English by Charles Olsen:



I’ve just put up a swing in the tree out the back. It has no name.
I don’t even know if anyone will ever use it. I had the materials and just did it.
I see, however, the hopeful joy on the faces of passersby who see it over the fence.

I place the jar in water to remove the label. If only it were so easy.
I try it in the shower everyday. A few seconds under the jet of water and away labels.
But no, it’s never that easy. On the contrary, I start thinking in the shower. It doesn’t do me much good.

The cat drinks from the labelless jar. I’m sure he’s not bothered.
My father collected them. With care and patience he'd soften the paper without tearing it.
He only allowed himself to be delicate with this everyday handicraft. For the rest he was as he should be, I suppose.

The flint is old but it gives off a small flame as though it were its last.
I put away the lighter once the candle is lit. I place it carefully on the balcony rail.
I sit on a stool. A draft coming in the window blows out the flame. Soon it will be night.

Jöel López Astorkiza
Haro, La Rioja


Charles also added some fascinating notes about the translation process:
I sent it to Jöel to check and he had some suggestions for changes but it was interesting as one change he suggested was the American expression 'Period' (ie. I had the materials and did it. Period.) and so I explained this was an expression I never used and an American translator would probably change other expressions in the poem as well. Also 'rock' or 'stone' has changed in translation to the 'flint' of a lighter.
I guess any regular readers of this blog will understand why I chose those particular words for the poets to work with (especially 'cat'), but I have to say that the variety and accomplishment in the various results came as a complete surprise to me - I was particularly struck by Aurora & Gabriel Merino's beautiful pagework / poem 'Albertina,' but the other poems were great also. I don't envy the task of judging between them!

Don't forget that there'll be a local version of the 'Given Words' competition being held here as part of the Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day this year. Charles writes of that:
I'm also preparing the National Poetry Day Given Words competition and will send you the details when we launch in mid-June. For the moment I've set up the blog:
And what does Zero Tolerance Ross think about the whole thing? Enough said, I think! ...


Richard said...

Cats. Are they the only animals to so regally relax?

The words you chose, did these aid you to 'trigger' the poem and act as a kind of impulse for each stanza?

It is a very good poem indeed!

Dr Jack Ross said...

Dear Richard,

I guess so. The scheme has been running in Spain for quite some time, but it seems they're going to be trying the trigger-words idea here for Poetry Day, also.

There's certainly something very inspiring about Zero in repose ...

beest, jack