Two poems by the Argentinian poet, Jorge Fondebrider

Jorge Fondebrider

Jorge Fondebrider, well-known as one of Argentina’s foremost critics and cultural historians is also – or rather is first and foremost – an eminent poet and translator of poetry, both from French and English. He is the author of four collections – painstakingly spread out at the rate of around one per six years. Fondebrider’s poetry is meditative, wistful and ironic, although it can be savage in its indictments of hypocrisy and pretension.

There is no day of total happiness
– he says in exasperation –
there is always the shadow of the dead,
pigeons on the roof,
the dentist’s chair, an expiry date.
There’s always something
more powerful than the sun, your company.
Look – she says, more seriously –
neither you nor I are going to be here
forever,
so we’d better hug each other
while there is still something to embrace,
while we are here today. He manages to hear her
and suspects that they are strange bodies,
alien as everyone,
even in love,
always.

Translation by Afric McGlinchey

No hay día enteramente feliz –le dice contrariado–.
Siempre está la sombra de los muertos,
palomas en el techo,
el turno del dentista, vencimiento .
Siempre hay algo
que puede más que el sol, tu compañía.
Mirá –le dice seria–
ni vos ni yo vamos a estar
siempre,
así que mejor nos abrazamos
mientras hay algo que abrazar,
mientras estamos hoy. Alcanza a oírlo
y sospecha que son cuerpos extraños,
ajenos como todos
los cuerpos aun en el amor,
siempre.

Jorge Fondebrider (Buenos Aires)

La noche tiene mil ojos

No possible denial between waves
that fold into their dark pages.
Behind the horizon follows the sea,
then constellations and corals,
submerged stars
like the cold foam,
and here the moon
shuffling among the ships without logic or order.
Mountains or palm trees. It does not matter.
It’s only a matter of creating a scenario
in which to plant a self lost in thought,
without logic or order.

Translation by Afric McGlinchey

The night has a thousand eyes

No hay negación posible entre las olas
que doblan sus páginas oscuras.
Detrás del horizonte sigue el mar,
después, constelaciones y corales,
estrellas sumergidas
como las espumas frías,
y más acá la luna
rielando entre los barcos sin lógica ni orden.
Montañas o palmeras. Da lo mismo.
Todo es cuestión de plantar un escenario en que transcurra
un yo cualquiera perdido en pensamientos
sin lógica ni orden.

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Good Friday by Daragh Breen

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Good Friday (Part III of a poem sequence titled The Sun King)

The sun, as always, sets just off the stone-rubble
of Connemara, dragging with it the dark from
just beyond Mars, drowning all the fuchsia-clogged
lanes of childhood summer evenings out along
Dog’s Bay,
and Clifden also topples into the dark,
only its rooftops visible in the moonlight, like
the jellyfish that cobbled the coast’s warm beaches
and across which we step once more into the hotel
hallway where you once lead the four of us
to look at the photographs on the wall of
Alcock and Brown who made that first Trans-Atlantic
flight in what looked like a homemade aeroplane of
lashed together tarpaulin, travelling sightlessly
through the Atlantic night.
Some morning saw us rumbling
towards the flaming pyre of the sun as it coloured
the inside of the plane the yellows of the gorse
that smells of the cheap macaroon bars that you
loved so much, talking about Little Richard, Jerry
Lee Lewis and Midfield Generals,
and in this ford of your memories
I realised that someday the same Dark Bull would
trample free of its stall and come snorting
across the sea of clouds, coming ashore in the weakening
mind.
Yet, I have seen you now as a man,
a youth, a young boy, and when all our collective
years have slipped from us, drip by slow-slow drip,
and lie pooled in the universe’s stilled dark silence,
the spaces where we sat or walked or talked
will remain, like hollowed-out ghost forms,
waiting for some future sun to nest in their
wide, bridging arms.

From the collection, What the Wolf Heard (Shearsman Books)

Next up, Teen Camp!

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So, we’ve had the president’s visit, (here’s one of my young writers reading to President Michael D. Higgins from the magazine of poems we produced) and the Uillinn Arts’ Centre is now officially up and running. Very exciting to see the regular transformations, as things change all around me. The fabulous organza gown, the hundreds of names embroidered in squares on a pair of tapestries, have been and gone, along with Tess Leak’s magical ‘I shall build for myself a castle’ series of giant drawings and artifacts.

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Lucija and I are sitting in front of the fantastic permanent sculpture by Michael Ray who is one of Ireland’s most rated glass artists. My new neighbour and fellow artist in residence is Toma McCullim, from Scotland, who is replacing American artist Al Zaraba, who SHOULD have been here, but unfortunately was taken ill on arrival in Ireland and is currently recuperating in Galway hospital. But he’ll be with us shortly. Meanwhile, we have the glorious Toma, who invited me to visit an archaeological dig going on at the site near where the old workhouse used to be. We met the professor from Maryland University with his students (coincidentally, Al Zaraba is also from Maryland). We also came across a memorial plaque to 22 year old Patrick McCarthy at the site where he was shot by guards in 1922 for being a dissident. That’s bound to work its way into a poem!

As well as a staircase poem, Toma’s own project also includes artifacts that have naturally rusted – and what do you know? On our wanderings, we came upon a whole collection – like a found exhibit – nestled in a field! Toma had her conceptual way with these objects and they are now on display in a stairwell. Also poem material for me!

The wonderful thing about being ‘in residence’ is the serendipity of what occurs. Socialising with Toma and Justine Foster, who makes things happen here, and also Rita and Jackie. As I’m in Skibbereen at the moment, a friend from UCC gave me a ticket to see the Galway Druid Theatre Company’s magnificent production of FOUR Shakespeare plays, back-to-back. Six hours of Shakespeare – and it flew. (We did have breaks for drinks and even dinner, provided by Riverside Café). Their next performance is in New York. Also, thanks to meeting Toma, I ended up in Levis’s pub in Ballydehob to hear the haunting Aboriginal music of Frank Yamma, with David Bridie, from Australia. Fantastic.

The opening of the Members’ Exhibition was a massive affair – as well as sculptures, there were over 300 paintings wonderfully hung  – and it was followed by a spell-binding poetry performance by Canadian/ Indian poet – Renée Sarojini Saklikar, whose ongoing project involves the Air India crash in West Cork in 1985. The audience participation was very moving.

Throughout my stay here, I’ve been so impressed by Emma Jervis’s extraordinary photographs of events, candid moments, beautifully captured. Wow. The Centre is so lucky to have her. She’s archiving an impressive visual diary of Uillin’s events and exhibitions.

As for me? Well, it’s been a frenzy of editing and writing – and next up is Teen Camp! I’ll be offering an intensive three-day workshop from the 8th to the 10th July. As I’ve discovered that teenagers are writing novels these days (why not?) the focus will mainly be on structuring, pacing, adding layers to character and using metaphor to bring language to life. The short story and poetry won’t be neglected either. The best novelists, in my view, are natural poets.

And that, sadly, will bring to a end my residency here. But I will be doing a reading of poems created during my time as Poet in Residence at the end of the month. And there will be Autumn courses on offer

Scribblers, Higgins and Teen Camp

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Making letter shapes

Wow, the time flies. One of the highlights of the last couple of weeks was visiting Alison Glennie’s drama group, and doing poetry with them. Of course, first they had to warm up by making letter shapes together. Then down to the hard work:

Writing poems

We’ve almost reached the end of the Scribblers course– only one workshop to go, when we’ll be working on the cover of our magazine, to be printed in time for Michael D’s visit on the 11th June. A lot of excitement about that. So many poems and stories for me to type up this week!

One of my young writers surprised me with this poem last Friday.I think she captured me perfectly! Have to share it with you:

Lucija's poem to me

I’ll have a couple of weeks to respond to new work at Uillinn, and to work on my collection, as well as continuing the one-to-one editing surgeries. Anyone interested in that can phone me on 086 3633567 to book an appointment.

Then it’ll be on to the Teen Camp taster, from the 8th-10th July, which will end my residency. As well as a little poetry, we’ll be doing fiction. I’m hoping for teenagers (aged from 13-18, although so far those booking are around 16) who are serious about writing.

TEEN CAMP brochure

And I’m not sure if that will open! But you can call me on 086 3633567 for details or to book.

‘Tings are quite’ – Scribblers and Slow Art

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Sad red cats and weird bed-cars, cloud-soups and monster mice, butterfly-lions, aliens raining beans and timely planets – these are some of the bizarre, delightful apparitions that turned up this week in Scribblers, my Young Writers’ Taster workshops. As one child put it, ‘a magic puffed.’ Really looking forward to the rest of the Programme, which will take place on Fridays from 3.30 – 5.00pm. All children from 8-12 years of age are welcome. The poems created during these workshops will be compiled into a pamphlet, in time for President Michael D. Higgins’s visit in June.

I joined Alison Cronin’s Slow Art Afternoon on World Slow Art Day, where she made us look at individual exhibits for ten whole minutes, without speaking. The effect was amazing. I saw so much more, as time passed, and began to connect with each piece in a profound way. Later we had afternoon tea and exchanged our ideas about the artworks.

Inspired by the experience, for today’s Poem to Go workshop, I took my students to this painting by John Doherty, wonderfully titled ‘Tings are quite’ and got them to study it for a while, before writing an ekphrastic poem in response to it:

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The Tuesday Poem to Go sessions have moved from the art space (which has been taken over for Life Drawing classes) to my studio, a more intimate experience.

This week, I’ve also written a poem in response to Emma Jervis’s beautiful photograph of the moon:

Thank you for 1500 likes

(Thanks also to Emma for the other photos above. Her website is here: http://www.emmajervis.com/) My poem will be showcased at the end of my residency, along with other completed collaborations.

The one-to-one editing surgeries are growing into two hours instead of the promised one hour and 20 minutes! I’m hoping those availing of this service find it good value, at €35 per surgery. For today’s session, we managed to get through nine short poems. Anyone interested in making an appointment can ring me on 086 3633567.

Slow dancing in a flaming building

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Photograph taken by Emma Jervis. http://www.emmajervis.com/#!/index The ‘beasties’ on the wall are part of an exhibition called ‘Flying Colours’. Pupils from twenty primary schools contributed their work.

I’ve been invited to be Poet in Residence at the exciting new Uillinn Arts Centre in Skibbereen, West Cork, from the 24th March to the 18th May.

Part of the remit is to write a blog, and as I already have this one, I thought I’d hijack it for the eight weeks, to write about my discoveries and writing process during the residency, which will be my first. This is also the centre’s first time having a poet in residence, so we’ll all be learning from the experience. Justine Foster, one of the organisers at the centre, is fantastically open to any ideas I may have, so I’m exploring ways my poetry might respond to the opening season’s exhibition, called Fourth Space. This comprises sculptures and installations by a range of artists: David Beattie, Karl Burke, Rhona Byrne, Maud Cotter, Angela Fulcher, Mark Garry, Caoimhe Kilfeather, Dennis McNulty, and Liam O’Callaghan. As I’ll also be interacting with the wider community, out of my familiar territory  and in a wonderful space, who knows what will happen!

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The new Uillinn Arts Centre in Skibbereen. Photograph by Celia Bartlett.http://ailecphotography.blogspot.ie/

During the residency, I’ll be offering Poem-to-Go lunchtime workshops on Tuesdays, and one-to to-one editing sessions, as well as collaborating with other artists in residence, such as the fantastic photographer Emma Jervis. I’m also looking forward to   observing aerial dancer and teacher Tara Brandel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpyplVqURqM.

Of course I’ll be reading as well as writing, and will continue to post any wonderful poems I come across.

Anyone interested in doing the workshops or having one-to-one editing sessions should contact the Uillinn Arts Centre: 028 22090 or 0863633567.

Curiosité – un Regard Moderne and Fields by John FitzGerald

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John FitzGerald is Ireland’s new rising star. He was announced as the 2014 Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Competition winner the same week he was shortlisted for the Hennessy Emerging Poet Award. And my money’s on him winning. His work is always exhilarating and unexpected, due to his extensive travels and seemingly inexhaustible depth and breadth of knowledge. Naturally, he’s the main librarian, at University College, Cork. He was also commended in the 2014 Gregory O’Donoghue Prize and longlisted in the 2014 UK National Poetry Competition and in the 2014 Fish Poetry Prize. Here are the poems that appeared in the Irish Times this week. Watch this space.

Curiosité – un Regard Moderne

The latest Sotheby’s email                                                                                                                     sale announcement                                                                                                                           proclaims the chance to                                                                                                                         obtain a pair of Aepyornis                                                                                                             maximus (Elephant Bird) eggs,                                                                                                         an exceptional complete                                                                                                                   Moa (Megalapteryx didinus)                                                                                                             [sic] skeleton, or even a collection of                                                                                                   Nô masks:                                                                                                                                                   ‘Get the last of your eggs, bones n masks’                                                                                     you can almost hear the criers proclaim                                                                                             at the gates of the chateau                                                                                                                   in Dampierre of the impecunious                                                                                                      latter-day Duc de Luynes.

Fields  

There’s a place on the Dublin-Cork line                                                                                           where woodland opens out to fields within the wood –                                                               two or three,                                                                                                                                       irregular in shape and secretive in their deep surround,                                                 unperturbed by the sudden pulsing passing-by of trains.                                                         And then they’ve gone.                                                                                                                           I always seem to lift my eyes at just this point in the journey,                                           signalled by some animus of field                                                                                                   and its possession of me since a child,                                                                                             for all the fields I have traversed                                                                                                           and loved and lost.