Thursday, July 12th, 2012
I haven't really written much narrative (that I can recall) in the first person voice. Let's give this a try. Peter seems like a good place to start with the first person, being as he is at least roughly modeled after myself.
(The plan as it now stands is, write fragments as they come to me. Revise and post at READIN those that seem worth while. Wait and see, see if anything is coming together. And if not, well, I'm having fun with the fragments and the revisions...)
I found Fragmentos de la universidad desconocida when me and Laura were visiting Mexico City. What a poorly-planned trip! We had both just fallen in love with The Savage Detectives -- the idea came up on the spur of the moment, that we should make the trip as, well, an homage to Bolaño or something like that, something along those lines... didn't really bother to do much or any research though I guess, I guess we were both pretty busy with work around that time, felt lucky we could both take a week off and have it be the same week, and by the time we had gotten off the plane and stumbled to our hotel and stumbled out of the hotel, down the street, it was Day 1 and we were standing in the Plaza de la Constitución, rubbing our eyes, pawing at the map, trying to figure out how to get to the Calle Bucareli, and it was beginning to dawn on me that there were way better things we could be doing with our week than trying to retrace the footsteps of Leopold Bloom around Dublin.
It wound up being a good week, too -- we did not actually find our way to any of García Madero's bars, but we did visit a couple of his bookshops, and the Bosque de Chapultepec, and Trotsky's house. Ate well. When we came home my suitcase was stuffed with books.
I've been a sucker for Spanish poetry ever since college -- the professor had us reading Neruda and Cardenal, and then I found an old book of Pablo Antonio Cuadra, and I was hooked. Something about the foreignness of it, the unfamiliarity of the language (well and of course the specific lilt and rhythm of Spanish) makes it touch me, ring clear in a way that only rarely happens with English language poetry. But Bolaño! I had no idea he had written any poetry. (I know -- it sounds dumb now, just a few years later on; for me he was just the author of The Savage Detectives, like how I didn't know anything about Kerouac beyond On the Road, for what seems like an inordinately long time past my tenth-grade year.) But, but there it was on the bookshelf, right in front of me in Librería Sotano: The fragments of the unknown university. What a title! Seeing it felt like a revelation. I know, I know, the structurally correct thing would have been for me to steal it... The cashier gave me a Sotano bookmark, I was meaning to hang on to it but no idea where it has gone.
That was our last day in Mexico.
Saturday, July 21st, 2012
...Not sure quite how many times of looking in passing at the cover of La universidad desconocida it took me, before it clicked what the picture I am looking at is...For more Bolaño/Duchamp pairing, check out part 2 of Savage Detectives.
Loving the poems certainly. I need to read them more closely and repeatedly before I will have anything worthwhile to write about them though.
por J Osner
(las que lea con disculpas a Roberto Bolaño: directed freewrite based on some references to rain in La universidad desconocida)
Mientras llueve sobre la extraña carretera
En donde te encuentras
Créeme que estoy
En el centro de mi habitación esperando
Que llueva. Está lloviendo:
Corriendo las aguas sobre
Los huecos vitreos, ventanas
Mis mejillas abajo
Y otras partes
Créeme que tus huellas tan mojadas
Sunday, July 22nd, 2012
(written to a prompt from La universidad desconocida)
Entre estos árboles que he inventado
y que no son árboles
If all the ink were wine and all the paper host
communion of the literate commences
when the printing presses close.
Beneath the trees that are not trees you sleep
and dream of average Joes and trains that are not trains
inhuman people, playing god, write out their epitaphs and fortunes:
your pen like silly putty printing mirrored verses
mocking poets' codes of conduct, bylaws
written waist-high on the wall.
The transubstantiation catches you off-guard,
you dip your pen once more to find
Our Savior's life-blood dripping from the
letters of your scrawl;
and senselessness transmutes your text
to whitespace, letters crawl away
like ants, it's time, don't miss your chance --
the Walrus beckons you behind his hanky.
Come and take a walk, we'll have a pleasant chat,
we'll have some oysters.
Carpenter, who's running late, will meet us at the dance.
Friday, August third, 2012
(This post is a continuation of the earlier Peter's Voice thread -- I am trying among other things to make my reading of La universidad desconocida be Peter's reading, trying to get in his head and read through his eyes and hope to fully realize his character. Hope that anybody's going to be interested in reading about this guy and the books he is reading and translating; but of course this hope has always been intrinsic to the READIN project...)
Walking down Partition Street in the light summer rain and watching the lightning across the river past Rhinebeck. A really impressive storm but it's far enough off, the air's not moving here. You have to strain to make out the thunder. Nice -- I'm glad to fantasize the soundtrack and just watch the show, glad to get a little wet, glad to get home and inside and dry off.
Laura's a little spacey tonight. Dale and them had a gig down at Tierney's, we smoked some grass on the way over there and she really got into it --the intoxication goes very nicely with Megan's chops on the washboard, with Dale singing "Rag Mama Rag," it must be said... a lovely time but all too short as they only had a half-hour set. The other acts? Nothing really that interesting, so here we are back home and Laura's prowling catlike by the bookcase. I'm smiling and asking her what she's reading.
-- Eh, nothing's really grabbed my attention much since Snow.
I grin, and flash on the "Love and Happiness" scene and Al Green singing, and feel the little twinge of uncertainty that's always present around Pamuk, like I'm not really getting it or am getting the wrong thing. (And hm, I should really mention that song to Dale...) -- Want to check out some poetry I've been working on? I found these pretty intense old Chilean poems over at Calixto's blog... and don't mention, or perhaps it goes without saying in this context, these poems from Ávala seem to me like good trip material -- but I've mentioned Chile, and Laura would rather listen to Bolaño. Nice --I open The Unknown University at random and hit on "El dinero"; and it seems to me like this is the perfect poem for today, being as I am in receipt of a check from the Reality Fusion job, feeling confident about our rent for the next few months, even about a shopping trip over to Amazon...
Still not much headway on the literary translation thing. But I remain hopeful; how could I not be, with Laura snuggled against me here on the couch as I read to her.
Thursday, September 6th, 2012
(another poem written to a prompt from La universidad desconocida...)
Poesía que tal vez abogue
Mis sueños no tan fáciles
por mi sombra
en días venideros
cuando yo sólo sea un nombre
y no el hombre
que con los bolsillas vacillos vagabundeó
en los mataderos del viejo y
del nuevo continente
que tengan como antecedente
alguna trauma desconocida
alguna pesadilla anterior
los dejo y caen
no soportados de ninguna
referencia exterior, no enlentecidos
abajo de mi paracaidas, y
¿a dónde? y ¿cuándo
pararán, cuándo van a poder
Caen sueños del viejo
y del nuevo continente,
sin término caen;
sueños de amistad
masculino: rough homoerotic self-
sufficiency, soledad publicada. Que en los
no trabajen sueños
Wednesday, September 26th, 2012
(en que me hago sin objetivo fanfarroneas. Might as well, I don't see anyone else about to give me a rave rev)
Morir al final de un día cualquiera
Imposible escapar de la violencia.
Imposible pensar en otra cosa.
-- La universidad desconocida
I find this statement of Bolaño's strangely comforting, strangely reassuring. Me demasiado preocupo sobre el valor de mi obra, de mis intentos a poesía y a trabajo. El cuento que tengo en progreso, soy convencido de que ese cuento va a hacer una lectura convincente, fascinante, se hace en verdad ya casi completo. Y lo mismo los poemas que componía usando los de Bolaño como provocaciones...
El pasaje del tiempo es lo que muere
los amigos de la infancia
envenenados por tiempo en los pueblos y las colinas de Nueva York
Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
Wow! Laura Healy's translation of The Unknown University has been published! Go buy it and read it, everybody!
Saturday, July 27th, 2013
por J Osner
ahora estoy en mi habitation
que se termine de llover
contesto y me dices
que eres furiosa
pero no se me importa
ni un carajo.
ya largo tiempo
estoy de pie en la calle
enfrente del teatro
esperando que se termine
esta acción tanto larga
pero no apenas
Monday, February third, 2014
Very exciting: a school of Spanish-language writing and literature is being launched in Brooklyn under the compelling name of Bolaño's book of poetry. Go to their launch party on Saturday! (I can't make it because I'm going to a poetry workshop at Medicine Show Theater, about which more anon.) I am planning to enroll in the poetry workshop led by Isabel Cadenas Cañon, and maybe also the writing workshop led by Lina Meruane. Can't wait!
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