Saturday, April 28, 2007

it is difficult for me to write a kind of political poetry without simply preaching. i've avoided doing so out of the frustrations arising from an 'us v. them' mindset. easy enough to do, and yes, perhaps that sort of writing has it's place.

for years i've been reading the postwar eastern poets, like herbert, krynicki, jaan kaplinski et al., for their remarkable abilities to make a metaphysical poetry that is damning of dire political and social realities.

and yet, sometimes a fire is called for that is at times lacking in a writer such as herbert. this morning i read a poem by argentine poet juan gelman from his book unthinkable tenderness; translated by joan lindgren and edtited by eduardo galeano [university of california press; 1997]. gelman's is an earthy mysticism, grounded by the horrible and yet it takes flight. his son and pregnant daughter-in-law were disappeared during argentina's dirty war of the 1970s. gelman then went into exile and wrote a body of work that is at once literary, menacing, hopeful and vitriolic. he often uses other texts taken from a host of historic diasporic poets, and creates as well using the pessoan device of heteronyms.

the poem i read this morning is filled with fury. it is intensely moving and beautiful.

Note I

I will name you time after time.
I will lie down with you night and day.
nights and days with you.
I'll defile myself fucking with your shadow.
I'll show you my rabid heart.
I'll stomp on you crazy with fury.
I'll kill you in pieces.
I'll kill you once with paco.
again I kill you with rodolfo.
with haroldo I kill you one piece more.
I'll kill you with my son in my hand.
and with the son of my son / little dead one.
I'm coming with diana to kill you.
I'm coming with jote to kill you.
I'm going to kill you / defeat.
never will I lack the face of a loved one to kill you again.
alive or dead / a beloved face.
until you die /
hurt as you are / that much I know.
I'm going to kill you / I
am going to kill you.


At 5:44 AM, Anonymous gelmaniana said...

Totally agree with your words about Gelman writing, expecially when you call it "vitriolic".
If you like you may visit the website entirely dedicated to him at this address:


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