THE POSTER for “Del Amor y Otros Demonios”
INSTITUTO Cervantes and the Embassy of Colombia present “Cine Colombiano,” a festival of recent Colombian films, on all Saturdays of September, at Instituto Cervantes, the cultural arm of the Embassy of Spain, on Kalaw Street, Ermita, Manila.
The cycle will kick off on Sept. 5 with two screenings: the feature film “Del Amor y Otros Demonios” (Of Love and Other Demons), at 2 p.m.; and the documentary “Gabo: La magia de lo Real” (Gabo: The Creation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez), 4 p.m.
“Del Amor y Otros Demonios” is the film adaptation of Gabriel García Márquez’s novel, the unsettling story of 13-year-old Sierva María and the dog bite that changes her life forever.
Abandoned, displaced, in the midst of a sexual awakening, and, finally, exorcised, Sierva María finds an unlikely ally in a young priest. Together they discover passion. The 2009 movie is directed by Hilda Hidalgo.
“Gabo: La magia de lo Real” (Gabo: The Creation of Gabriel García Márquez), 2015, directed by Justin Webster is a gripping documentary about the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature winner. How did a boy from a backward town on the Caribbean coast become a writer who won the hearts of millions, and whose works changed our perception of reality?
García Márquez was the author of the critically acclaimed masterpiece “100 Years of Solitude.” He grew up amid the poverty of northern Colombia, and, propelled by a love of life and a sensual, magical sensibility, followed a path that took him not only into becoming a pioneer of life-affirming literature, but also to the forefront of the political struggles of the ’70s and ’80s through his militant journalism and friendships with political leaders such as Fidel Castro and Bill Clinton.
On Sept. 12, “Sofía y el Terco” (Sofia and the Stubborn Man), 2012, directed by Andrés Burgos, will be shown. An old couple living in the Colombian countryside has been planning a trip to the sea for years to break the monotony of their life. He just wants to leave the routine; she wants to see the world and cannot keep waiting. The film won the Audience Award at the Biarritz International Festival of Latin American Cinema.
On Sept. 19, to be shown is “Cazando luciérnagas” (Chasing Fireflies), 2013, directed by Roberto Flores Prieto, about how affection can improve reality. Manrique is the man in charge of watching an abandoned salt mine in the Colombian Caribbean. In his work he has found the perfect excuse to isolate himself from a world that doesn’t appeal to him anymore.
The appearance of a dog that likes to chase fireflies in the dark and the unexpected arrival of Valeria, a 13-year-old daughter whose existence he has ignored, will create for this solitary man an opportunity to recover the joy of being alive.
“Cazando luciérnagas” won the Best Cinematography award at the Huelva Latin American Film Festival.
Directed by Óscar Ruiz Navia in 2013, the critically acclaimed “Los Hongos” will conclude the film cycle on Sept. 26 at 2 p.m. The movie tells the story of two young men from Cali who want to become graffiti artists.
“Los Hongos” received the Special Jury Prize in the Locarno International Film Festival; and the Dioraphte Award in the Rotterdam International Film Festival.
All films will be shown in their original version in Spanish with English subtitles. The screenings will be in Salón de Actos of Instituto Cervantes, 855 T.M. Kalaw St., Ermita, Manila.
Entrance is free on a first-come, first-served basis. For further information, log on to www.manila.cervantes.es or www.facebook.com/InstitutoCervantesManila, or call 5261482.
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TAGS: Cazando luciérnagas, Cine Colombiano, Del Amor y Otros Demonios, Embassy of Colombia, film festival, Gabo: La magia de lo Real, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Instituto Cervantes, Sofia y el Terco
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Nolitch X,Nordic Literatures in Change and Exchange, is a literary project with the objective to create networks of immigrant language writers in the Nordic region supported by the Nordic Culture Fund, Nordic Culture Point and Malmö Stad.
Nolitch X project is a Nordic initiative held associations, working groups and individual writers from Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden. The Malmö based association Tre Tärningaris the coordinating host of the project in collaboration with Sivuvalo in Helsinki, Red Door Gallery and cultural producer and poet Éfrin González in Copenhagen, and independent writer Mazen Maarouf in Reykjavik. The project aims to make visible the presence and work of immigrant language writers in the Nordic countries through a series of activities during 2017: literary readings, networking, translations, publications and research.
The project wants to establish networks and collaborations of different kind to strengthen the position of immigrant language writers in the national and Nordic literary fields, to improve their conditions as professional writers and their possibilities to meet readers in the geographical area where they reside. Nolitch X also aims to publish anthologies with immigrant language writers, and to help to obtain translations into the main languages of the Nordic region. Nolitch X, as the name implies when you read it out loud, has the ambition to make known the unknown treasures of Nordic Literature: the literature written in immigrant languages, the Knowledge X.
A vital part of the project are the multimedia literary readings, invented by Mexican poet Daniel Malpica, member of Sivuvalo in the Finnish delegation, who currently resides in Helsinki. The multimedia readings offer a new visual and sound language to break new ground for the literature of immigrant languages for it to reach new audiences.
Nolitch X will make a mapping of immigrant language writers in Sweden, a continuation of one that has already been made by Sivuvalo in Finland. The ambition is to continue the mapping of immigrant language writers in Denmark, Iceland and Norway in a second phase of the project.
For more information or to be part of the NolitchX, please contact:
Project coordinator (Finland)
TOO MUCH INFORMATION
I can’t concentrate on the news anymore, those fucking floating banners on the bottom of the screen keep me from hearing the audio, and the talking heads become white noise and i don’t know how to process all this shit. There is just too much information happening all at once. I’m convinced that they are deliberately trying to confuse and mislead me with subconscious messages to keep me full of fear. Fuck that and fuck the ‘Fear Mongers’ who try to keep me indoors while corporate messages bombard me as I try to win the legal lottery of class action suits that mentions some medication that i may have taken that has caused cancer or death of a loved one. I check my chest incase I have grown female breasts and what the fuck is a vaginal mesh transplant… now that is a million dollar windfall. I try to keep up with it all and yet it keeps changing and shifting. I don’t know who is who anymore, who the fuck is fighting who and why. I watch the footage of ISIL fighting on the border of Turkey, then that damn floating banner tells me that the Ottoman Empire is on the rise again. Who’s on the chessboard, who’s white, who’s black and what time traveling one per-center is maneuvering the pieces. Actually, it is more like three card monte, a fucking flimflam and we are the marks full of adrenalin and fear. All this fear and subconscious messaging is designed to keep us shopping on the internet as virtual time slips by talking to virtual friends.
The Woman Inside the Grave
Ten years in a shallow grave, sans coffin, and the woman had learned that death was not the big sleep. Necromancers, grave robbers, children came to steal sleep, jewels, dignity from the dead. After the howling women awakened her, she was immobile, mostly, and restless. Their spells stirred the ground, too. Skipper flies deposited larvae in her moist mouth. The witches, she believed, slowed her decay.
She reached for the string, but there wasn’t one. She wondered if this was hell.
She did exercises: at first, with her hands and fingers—rounding up dirt and holding it tight, so tight she made a fist. She strengthened her body until her forearms could lift her remains.
What a joke, the big sleep.
If she were sleeping, she wouldn’t have known the grave robbers stole her pearls. They dug her up, took strands, left her in the shallow grave.
If she were sleeping, she wouldn’t have known that one of the robbers, a man with a heavy voice, stayed behind to have sex with her. He helped himself inside, moaned, cupped her breast. He couldn’t cure the taste for cold meat.
I’m sorry, he said.
Had she enjoyed it, she might’ve reached for his wet little member. Violated—a lady, a teacher—she made a grab for his pocketknife, but her fingers weren’t strong enough to grasp it. He ran off, spooked.
She took things over to the other side. Things like memories of Alicia, her neighbor’s daughter. When Alicia’s father came, drunk like he was in life, she assumed, he fired a gun into the grave. He said Alicia Alicia Alicia. The woman was surprised he visited after all this time. His fists pounded the ground, echoing like a gavel on a sounding block. Bits of rubble fell loosely.
After he left, the children sought her out; she must’ve been a town legend for they always did. She heard them from beyond her row. They dared one another to stand on her grave, take off their clothes, piss. They grew dumber each year. The young girls were no longer ladylike and modest. They were all Alicia. She despised them for it—the way they took boys’ minds off their schoolwork, the way they made boys stare.
The way they made you want them.
And for this: they only feared material life’s end. No sleepovers, ballet class, television. They didn’t know what real fear was. She would teach them.
That evening, a girl with a flirty, singsong voice stood near the grave.
“I’ll give you a dollar if you stand on it,” one boy said.
The girl said, “That woman doesn’t scare me, I’ll do it right now.”
In the girl’s voice, she heard a longing to impress, but she heard fear, too.
“Stick the knife in her,” another boy said.
The woman grew angry, vengeful—with a knife, those children were such insolent fools. They came to punish her.
Thud. The girl fell to her knees. When she plunged the knife into the grave, the woman was ready for it, her hands strong now and the metal weak. She grabbed it by the top of the blade, the dull flat part, and yanked it through the loose soil. Moving quickly, she turned the knife around and stuck it through, stabbing the girls’ foot.
The girl screamed, but the boys had abandoned her, the way boys do, and the girl froze, deadly still, like Alicia.
Alicia Alicia Alicia. That wild, young thing had skipped school, jumped the fence and met a boy there in the woman’s yard. They thought she wasn’t there, but the woman had taken her cat to the vet and come home. She saw everything.
Alicia wasn’t wearing underpants. She pulled down her shirt, letting sunrays shine on her exposed breasts, full with big, ripe nipples. She lifted up her skirt, and the boy licked her in between the legs. She threw her head back, playing to an invisible audience. She had shaved private parts; at fourteen, knew it was best to remove the hair.
The woman grew moist. She hadn’t been touched since her husband passed some twenty years before. She had found his old dirty magazines in the basement. In bed, she flipped through them, lights out, cotton nightdress around her waist.
But the woman did not want to think about Alicia anymore. She did not want to see the headlights or the boy’s face behind them as he drove his parents’ tan Cadillac into her frail body yelling you killed her, crazy bitch, alarming the woman who couldn’t recall what had happened after she had grabbed the kitchen knife.
Instead, she thought of the look on the children’s faces—of fear and repentance; of believing it wasn’t worth it; of if they made it out of the graveyard alive tonight they swear to God they’d never do it again; and of the boys’ faces and sullen tears when they came to collect the little fallen, frozen Alicia staked on top of her grave.
The Ghost of Natalie Wood
Eva was dressed up when I got to Old Hollywood Photos. In the mirror, she twirled in a white, A-line dress that, I was informed, Natalie Wood wore in West Side Story, red leather belt, white pumps. We’d been sneaking off to Catalina Island for about six months because Eva had a husband in Los Angeles. Lately, she’d grown distant—hungrier for adventure, unapologetically edgy.
I put on a judge’s robe, tapped a gavel against a sounding block. Eva whispered in my ear, thrusting spandex into my hand. Tights? Not meant for me, I hoped. On a whim, she kept adding an extra thing to our sex—porn, beads, a tragedy mask—always outdoing the last. Scared that I couldn’t satisfy her, I did what she wanted.
“Steal them?” Eva said. Undressing, she scrunched the dress into her purse.
She stared at me, because I wasn’t moving. “Steal them.” Seeing no staff members or security cameras, I thrust the tights in my back pocket. I paid for the robe, still wearing it. On the way out, Eva said, “I need makeup. Lots of it.” I asked her why. Resting her hand on my shoulder, she said, “Steven, Natalie Wood is dead.” Great, she wanted to dress up like a dead person and screw. “No,” she said, “I want to dress up like a tragic, beautiful, deceased Hollywood starlet and screw.” When I told her I didn’t see the difference, she said, “You wouldn’t.” This, too—the not understanding—was somehow my fault.
Years of talking with other commercial fishermen, mostly older men, had taught me about women—I remembered that one item, ring, necklace, whatever, that made her smile during a shopping trip and bought it for her later. Kept a calendar of her cycles to know when we were having a real fight, not one spawned by hormones. Wrote down important dates—the usual ones and others, too, like when her cat died—to commemorate. Useful tips, but, somehow, with Eva, they fell short.
“The drugstore on Crescent Avenue sells makeup,” she said. I followed her there. The store displayed Halloween makeup kits and other stuff—ultimate zombie blood fest sets, thru-the-skull plastic knives, rubber slashed wrists. “You’re guilty,” I said to the store clerk. Eva didn’t even crack a smile.
“I need to look wet,” she said. “Natalie Wood drowned.” She bought tubes of iridescent eye shadow, green and blue, lipstick, gel, and hairspray. Afterwards, we stopped in a pet store and bought water plants for an aquarium. At the checkout counter, the old woman ringing me up said, “Do you need anything else for your fish?”
“How about some scales,” I said.
“Scales,” I said, “To weigh it.” She looked puzzled. “Nevermind.”
I walked out of the store to find Eva plucking grass chards from a patch under a palm tree. I helped her. On the way back to the hotel, I bought a bottle of whiskey.
What was Natalie Wood like? I imagined her a foul-mouthed, cigarette smoking, harlot—one much different than Eva when I met her. At first, Eva came to Catalina bearing presents—tackle weights or a new song she learned because she knew I’d like it. Her gifts were thoughtful, appropriate. I tried new things—pork belly, Vinho Verde, kale. With her, I’d missed a life I hadn’t known existed.
But two weeks ago, we took a boat to Two Harbors, on the other side of Catalina, where Natalie Wood drowned. That night, Eva shed her clothing, ran naked, shouted, shook blackbirds out of palm trees, seduced me on the dock. I tried to satisfy her, cringing how she’d out-sexed me, but, finally, pushing me away, she said stop.
She tired me that night. I had overestimated how she’d suck me dry. That wasn’t all. I’d begun to see her differently, too. The dock’s white-blue lights threw shadows, giving her hair snake-like movement in the salty breeze. She looked possessed. I had the urge to run, but I waited for the moment to settle.
Now, in the hotel room, I wanted the Eva from when we first met. She got dressed, put on makeup, gelled and sprayed still grass and water plants in her hair. She threw the tights at me, impulsively. She said, “Put these on.” I did and stood there in light brown spandex and the judge’s robe. I did a shot. Two. Valiant—that whiskey, softening the blow of Eva dressed up in dead, the tights chaffing my groin. Pushing her cheek against mine. She felt cold, grotesque.
I was nervy. Eva was rid of me after tonight. How could she top this?
Another competing thought came: how alike she and I were. No costume, no whiskey could hide it. She chased a phantom. But so did I. That earlier version of her was an icebreaker, a siren seducing me with song. Banshee, Medusa, Natalie Wood—that was the real Eva. It certainly resolved things.
I slid the tights off, reached for my pants. I heard a thud against the door after it closed behind me. One of these might have smashed against it: ashtray, white leather pump, belly-up fish. I exited the hotel as Eva shouted from a window above, “There’s a place for us…somewhere a place for us.”
Slippery Eels and Assorted Lovers
BY GABRIEL DON
The tree outside her window was obscured by a pink piece of cardboard. A plane crashing would not wake her but the slightest beam of light kept her from sleep. On this day, that she realised the multiple futures and the importance of having fifty faces, she contemplated the Spanish men who had told her, over sangria, about the lovers they had left behind. Anasthesia was her name. I’m sure she is as happy to meet you as I hope you are her. Her mother had a fondness for the Greeks and not spelling words as people say we ought to. We also, because of her mother’s wishes, can never abbreviate her name due to it reminding Sarah, her mother, of working women.
Once a woman of a certain age decides she must have a room of her own, and that people ought to knock before entering, Anasthesia put on her hat, despite its itchiness and as always (because she never really knew what she was doing till she was doing it) wondered what should be done. Her house was an old holocaust museum and she hadn’t realised this, mainly because the sign was backwards and she didn’t speak German till a friend had declared ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ meant ‘Work Will Free You.’ The guard tower and barbed wire had not given it away. At the age of twenty one something very interesting occurred in Anasthesia’s life, the universe, being random, forced her to lead more lives than one. And to this very day she is not quite sure which one she really lived. True story. She told me over coffee.
The day Anasthesia was born the wind was blowing so hard all the washing came off the line. Her father, often a pessimist, was certain the world was coming to an end. “See I told you, we should have changed our ways (and he wasn’t in the slightest bit religious) I knew this day would come…” and he continued to rant on about the downfalls of capitalism and its unnecessary place in the world. His wife, currently squeezing, pushing and agonizingly trying to get a child out of her uterus, told him for the very first time but definitely not the last, “Fuck, I‘d wish you shut up. ” On this note the large woven wooden star sitting above the bed fell and out came Anasthesia.
Sarah’s mother Lara had, at the age of nineteen, two lovers. One of whom she had been with on and off since the age of eleven. It started with a kiss in the cupboard. Her father had caught them and kicked him out of the house. Then at fourteen she discovered the more serious side of playing sexually. She touched and was touched in all the places she didn’t quite yet understand. He had pulled out a condom and Lara was shocked and refused whatever it was she was supposed to do with it. Her sister had to explain to her that some people have sex. A couple of years later they had sex. He was Italian and named Paulo. He was very hairy and Lara started to like the look of a man with a hairy chest. The other lover she took on was his brother Dominic.
One day Lara started feeling very sick, like she was on a boat or jetty with wobbly sea legs. She had just started university and it was very disruptive to her tutorials. She vomited for a month before she realised she was pregnant. She didn’t know if it was Paulo’s or Dominic’s so she decided to never see either of them again. She caught a taxi home after university and the driver was a beautiful Japanese man.
“Do you like traffic?” He asked peering back with his sexy eyes.
Lara, Anasthesia’s Grandmother thought, ‘What an odd question,’ and answered, “No.”
“I like looking at all the different cars”
“That’s a very positive way to see it.”
“What music do you like?”
This carried on for the whole ride until Lara had reached her destination and realised she didn’t want to get out of the car. She leaned into the front seat and kissed him. He lifted up her shirt,
admired her beautiful nipples and turned her onto her back. While they were fucking in the front seat of the car, covered in sweat Lara noticed how due to his lack of body hair, she couldn’t get a grip. She tried to grab onto his back but he slipped through her hands like an eel.
Lara, pregnant with Sarah, moved to an apricot farm. She never married and Sarah never knew who her father was. Her mother told her she was immaculately conceived and was the last child of the sun god Aten. Lara had become pregnant while eating an apricot and accidentally swallowed the seed which swelled up in her belly. Nine months later a bright light came out of her mouth and she coughed up Sarah. Sarah grew up with labourers in white shirts, blue overalls and big brown hats. She would pick fruit and drop them into a cloth covered in pictures of corn and melons. She’d find shade under a tree, hide from her mother—who would insist on talking everything out—and read her books while sipping cranberry juice from a canteen.
Anasthesia’s father George was a very erratic yet decisive man. He would change his mind profusely but always do so with conviction. Like Sarah, George was raised without a dad. In the absence of a father he came up with a very clear idea of what a father is and should do. None of which he himself as father was and did. George and Sarah were both desperate to grow up and become adults. They didn’t like being children because there was always something they weren’t allowed to do just because of it. On a very quiet day, where one could hear a drip of water from a thousand miles away, a tarot card was dug up by a dog. On the top of the card was a sun. On the bottom of the sun was an angel emerging from the clouds with arms raised, palms facing outward. Below, in front of a mountain, feet firmly on the earth stood a naked man and a naked women. The card, which was the sixth trump or major arcana, was called ‘The Lovers’ and out of it stepped George and Sarah, who made a decision, not lightly, to sacrifice their other desires and make a choice. The relationship they chose was each other. Anasthesia—who at fourteen was convinced she was a witch and played with magic—would often ask to tell her mother’s fortune and when ever ‘The Lover’ card appeared her mum would sigh and say, “That’s how I met your father.”
It all began that day, aforementioned, when Anasthesia was feeling annoyed with light. Why, she wondered, did things absorb all the colours of the spectrum they truly were and what we see is everything she is not. Why did she not mean everything she said?
She pulled herself together long enough to leave the house and went to a book launch of a poet she had heard talking on the radio, about gum nuts and seas. It was there she met an old grey man, crinkled like a sheet, who told her she was beautiful. She had heard it many times before but never believed it. For some reason, this time, she did. Seeing as though she had no idea what she was doing with herself, when given Connor’s number, who was for the record over seventy, she called. She called because—inspired by reading Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love, she would become a mistress. Not with a married man of course and only in a couple of her lives. She had declared long ago to a friend it was wrong (being with someone who had another) and hated hypocrites, favouring honesty, even where she was at a loss. In another life, which I’ll get to later, she told a man whom she was in love with, that in their first month of meeting, because he didn’t want to make a commitment, she had tried to put her eggs in more than one basket to save herself from becoming full of holes, and he never forgave her. She hadn’t even liked the other man who took her on a date but it destroyed what she believed at the time was her one true love. We’ll find out later if that was the case.
So she packed her bags and moved to the country. She never slept with Connor. He wasn’t capable but she walked around the house naked, as she had in every life always found nudity preferable. She loved touching herself while he watched on, feeling there was nothing more powerful than being a young women. For the record, in another life, she thought there was nothing more powerless. Connor was a very successful poet and had been published numerous times. Since this was one of her dreams, and people like to attach themselves to their dreams, she drank tea with him, painted while he looked out at the hills and told her things like, “Look at the curves, doesn’t it buzz like sunshine.” She would look in his eyes and exude the impression that it was the most meaningful thing she had ever heard. She had by now—please be confused if I jump around, Anasthesia didn’t believe in time and other man made constructions and she made me promise if I was ever to write her story that I should move between the present and past tense frivolously— decided that she so wished she could have sex, with anyone. On Monday night (as she always began her new resolutions on the new week: one could never start dieting, exercising, a new hobby, plan, anything without Sunday finishing) she cooked him a roast.
He sat down and stared at her long hair, that was covering her breasts, and her blue eyes and she told him, “Can I sleep with other people?”
“Only women,” he replied.
“I don’t feel that would be cheating.”
It was at this point that she realised, Connor and her did not have as much in common as she first thought. She did however like women. Her fantasies more often than not would have them in it.
“I can’t believe you would say such a thing.” Anasthesia stood up, stabbed the big kitchen knife into her pork belly and ran outside, grabbing an overpriced bottle of wine from his rack on the way. She mounted her bicycle and put the wine into the basket. She rang the bell in a circus type theme and rode to the closest house. She knocked on the door. A man, quite handsome, luckily, answered the door. She grabbed the back of his head and kissed him vigorously, biting his lip
so hard she may have drawn blood. She was naked at the time, so he quickly pulled her inside and she returned the favour.
It was never discussed again and Connor and her lived happily. Happiness not being infinite, soon ran out. The garden parties and philosophical debates were still brilliant but Anasthesia felt more lonely (clichés often being true) than not in a room full of people. At night she lay staring at Connor who snored very loudly and found herself talking to him more when he was asleep. The following December Anasthesia went to visit her brother Tobias who had just been married. She arrived by plane and Tobias came to pick her up, and to her surprise his tall body had a papoose carrying a child attached. Over dinner that night after too many drinks, Tobias questioned her about her life. The discussion became filled with anger and they tried to hurt each other with their words. His new wife who was awfully prim and didn’t know aggressive debates and tears were all part of a normal drinking evening with Tobias and Anasthesia, kicked her out of the house.
The next morning Anasthesia felt very sick. She changed her ticket and flew home, getting a taxi to the big country house. She admired its patio from the window and the drive up the long dirt road which no matter how hard they tried wouldn’t keep its grassy side path. She thought about how much she loved the house—its vines that covered it, the one circular window—and decided that it may be time to be happy again. She went inside very hopeful and walked past all the paintings by people who were only famous after they died, and screamed while entering the bedroom, “Connor, I need a hug!” Connor was straddling a man, about forty, with dashing grey hair.
Kittens at the Tea Table
By Tiffany Sumner
Potts wasn’t even his real name. At the Philadelphia art and crafts fair, he handed out apocryphal business cards that read POTTS WALTER, ANTHROPOMORPHIC TAXIDERMIST, and he displayed them in front of the vintage gold cash register, the kind found in old candy stores, with round, push-down keys, he had restored and set up in the small vendor’s tent he rented. He likened himself to that cash register, half a century or so behind the current fashion (he liked old things), the kind of vintage curiosity he might expect to find at this arts fair. Potts removed his derby and then replaced it on his head with a steady, fluid motion.
The spring fair was crowded. The other merchants—jewelry makers, T-shirt printers, 3-D modelers, pillow sewers, poster creators, and the occasional inventor—sold handmade crafts, occupying the other vendor tents around him. Potts exhibited stuffed or mounted animals in dioramas depicting human activities—a hamster playing soccer, rats at a pool table, and a bespectacled owl (what a hoot) reading a book—each scene more lifelike than the next. His animals’ faces had dramatic things in them, theatrical eyes and comedic mouths, but there was an authenticity in their expressions that people who cared for animals found difficult to ignore, a longing, or a compulsive-mothering, a promise that the soul of the furry creature they had loved was immortal and could be captured as if alive.
To Potts, his animals were his family, and all that he had left after Tully, his tabby, had died. His mother and father were long gone, and he had no other living family members that he knew of. He also knew no one who would stand trial for him, whom he could rely on if he had to make that one phone call. His animals were it for him. If he needed to cry, to speak, to laugh, to masturbate (always thinking of the blue-haired woman from the tent opposite his at the fair), to complain, he did so with them, in their presence. He’d even snuck a kitten (or two)—he called all his animals his kittens, regardless of their species—into a movie theater a handful of times, sitting where it (or they) could see, undisturbed, unnoticed, placing it (or them) on his shoulder once the lights dimmed. Because of his attachment to his kittens, Potts never put them up for sale the way the other merchants who plied their crafts at the fair did (those heartless bastards), but he showed them as a testament to his level of skill, as an advertisement for his home taxidermy business.
After Tully died, he worked his magic on her. She now sat on the nightstand in his bedroom, napping, which is what she did best when she was alive. He liked to think she was sleeping beside him at night. It gave him a sense of comfort.
He thought the crowds should marvel at what he could do with the dead, yet only on occasion did they express the rapt admiration he expected. Typically, people came to him solely to preserve a pet that had died. He, however, saw himself not so much as a man who created dolls out of the dead but as preserver of life, godlike, infallible, begetting immortality. Put simply: he provided once-living creatures an afterlife. He existed for this sole purpose. He restored them to life, memorializing the death of each animal.
When the pet owners came to him, he asked them: what was your pet’s personality? Was your toad a worrywart? No problem. He’d create a scene with the toad lying on a minuscule sofa in a tiny psychiatrist’s office. Did your chicken die crossing the road? Check out Potts’s latest diorama: Poultry in Motion. He’d done it all—toads, guinea pigs, white mice, dogs, cats, fowl, foxes, birds, deer heads, a bear, and even an octopus.
Lately he’d also ventured into the realm of rogue taxidermy, dedicated to the showmanship of oddities—three-eyed bats, a jackalope, a cyclops orangutan, Siamese-twin ducklings, a unicorn head, and a griffin. Taxidermy was becoming popular, and since he didn’t have the money or the contacts to access real oddities—animals with awe-inspiring birth defects or nature’s strangest creations (this meant no proboscis monkeys, aye-ayes, Madagascar sucker-footed bats, or tarsiers, much to his dismay)—to compensate, he did what any artist would do under the circumstances: he created oddities from synthetic materials (taxidermyme.net made it easy). What was the harm in gluing a third eye, bought right from the Internet, onto a bird when he couldn’t find (or afford) a real three-eyed bird? None, he said to himself. No harm at all.
Potts couldn’t stop staring at the blue-haired woman at the fair; she sat across the walkway in her rented tent selling pendants, bracelets, necklaces, rings, and earrings with a kind of futuristic Victorian flamboyance, the latter an aesthetic long after his heart, encompassing top hats, frilly blouses, and unique weaponry. All that really boiled down to was this: she glued gears on things.
He tugged at his lapels. He wanted to speak to her. He had tried a number of times to work up the courage to do so, but he had failed. Today, he felt different. A sense of confidence had appeared from thin air, like magic, and he donned it like an armament.
Carefully, gathering his courage, not wanting to appear rushed, looking both ways as if at an intersection, Potts walked over to her tent. He stared at her for a moment, perhaps longer, and she returned his stare.
After some time she said, “Hello,” and he just stood there, grinning.
There was nothing about her appearance he didn’t like: her raspberry-blue curly tendrils, her full figure, her style, and the way she carried herself—so dainty, so feminine, so inviting.
“I’m Cherie,” she said.
“Potts.” He handed her one of his business cards, which contained his home address, e-mail address, and phone number. She looked hesitant to talk further with him, but that would change once they got to know each other.
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Potts,” she said.
Nice to meet you! She was polite. She was kind.
“You have nice things.” He fingered a gear-laden gold chain displayed on a black- leather necklace-bust. The leather had caught his eye, since it wasn’t often used for bust displays. He thought of hide stretched at a tanner’s shop, and he resisted the urge to feel for a seam with a tear somewhere so he could feel the inside.
“What a most exquisite bust you have.”
“Excuse me?” She blushed.
Before he could explain, he heard a man behind him say, “Just the way you like it.”
Potts didn’t look up at the intruder, but a grave feeling fell over him. It was if he were a maiden horse, always late to the finish, never winning the race. When Potts did finally turn his head, his heart slipped out through his bowels. Cherie’s boyfriend (whom he sadly assumed the fellow to be) held out a cup of coffee for her, and she took it in her graceful hands, beaming with those perfect red lips of hers. Potts had encountered this man, Sam, a few times around town and at craft fairs. Sam was a gear-gluing jeweler, too. And he was a PETA freak who only came by Potts’s tent to torment him.
When Sam had confronted him about abusing animals, Potts had told him the truth. He lived by one Golden Rule: he never trapped or killed animals; he only created his dioramas with those that had died of natural causes.
“Think about it,” he had told Sam. “I memorialize them. Present the essence of their life. Why would I do that to a wild animal I’d hunted down? What kind of diorama would that make?”
He hoped Sam wouldn’t make one of his rude comments in front of Cherie now. But the jerk started in immediately.
“Well, look what the dead, stuffed cat dragged in.”
“People like what I do to their pets,” Potts said, defensive.
“Those people are sick,” Sam replied. “And you call that art?”
“Right, as opposed to bending metal and gluing gears onto it.”
Potts shuddered. He’d meant to insult Sam, not Cherie.
But then Cherie said something even worse. “I hear that your dioramas aren’t even original, that you rip your ideas off from others. Even your name.”
That did him in. He’d meant to create an aura of mystery. Apparently, he’d failed. He walked back to his tent. If Potts had had a tail, it would have been tucked between his legs.
To put it bluntly, Potts knew he was a phony. The real man whose name he’d semi-purloined—Walter Potter, long dead now—had been a celebrated Victorian taxidermist with his own museum in Sussex, England, from which Potts stole ideas. Walter Potter, the man, the godfather, had his own museum, for Christ’s sake. Thinking he’d put one over on people (who really read about the history of taxidermy?), Potts had extorted from Walter Potter both his identity and his ideas, lifting them from books he’d checked out of the library and from photos he’d found on the Internet, both sources inspiring themes he now almost believed to be his own after spending far too much time on them. That was how he had come to the notion—or how the notion had come to him—of creating an anthropomorphic utopian society in his home, his own museum, where each room was filled with scenes of his kittens at play.
He’d accomplished his goal. But as an artist, he’d done nothing that hadn’t been done before. With so much noise in the taxidermy arts, he’d have to break through with something profound.
That evening, out of nowhere, that something profound appeared at his Pennsport apartment door. An old woman came to call much later than he was used to, and she had managed to cart with her something in a burlap sack, which she dropped onto his worktable. “She’s dead, my Greta is,” the old woman said.
To his surprise, he helped her pull a little girl out of the sack. “I-I can see that,” he replied, and he gasped in spite of himself.
Greta was young, petite, and blond, probably less than six years old, wearing fingerless gloves and a light blue dress. Once Potts realized he was holding a human corpse, he dropped her back onto the table.
“S-so sorry,” he said, and in nervous haste he instinctively picked Greta up again and sat her down on a kitchen chair at the table.
He then hurriedly cleared things from the tabletop, sweeping his skinning knives, scissors, bell-hangers’ pliers, cutting nippers, stuffing iron, and tow forceps off to one side, picking up and moving to another nearby table tin boxes filled with arsenical soap, a vial of finely pounded chloride lime, a bottle of tincture of musk, and several tiny vials of Potts’s Preservative Powder (for the skins), which wasn’t yet patented. (He was still working on the recipe. It currently called for one ounce of tannin, two ounces of red pepper, one ounce of camphor, and seven ounces of burnt alum.) The bottle, he had dutifully labeled DANGEROUS!!! in big bold letters with black Magic Marker on a white press-on sticker bought from a drugstore.
The old woman identified herself as Greta’s grandmother. She coughed and coughed, and he could see that she wasn’t well.
Once he had recovered from his shock, Potts came to his senses and offered the old woman a cup of tea, his delight at having unexpected company getting the better of him, his apprehension suppressed for the time being.
But the old woman was only interested in one thing. “Can you fix her?” she asked.
Potts, cautious for a moment, wondered if she thought he could bring Greta back to life. “I can preserve her body so she looks alive,” he said.
“Yes,” said the old woman. “Yes.”
“There is a question of cost. I ask for a deposit of five hundred dollars for the first ten pounds, then twenty-five dollars for each ten pounds thereafter.”
“That’s more than I can afford.”
“What can you afford?”
“I have cash.” The old woman handed him a hundred-dollar bill.
“Less than I usually charge,” Potts stammered. But how could he refuse? What a diorama he could make with such a young, frail, beautiful kitten as this!
“I haven’t done this before. . . .” he hedged.
“But it’s possible?”
“Sure. Still, it would be my first time.”
“An experiment. Why should I pay full price?”
“Fair enough. Deal.” He stopped. “Did . . . did Greta die of natural causes?”
The woman paused for a moment before uttering, simply, “Yes.”
“What was she like? Her personality.”
“Pensive,” said the old woman, “and sweet.”
He could not help himself. Something about Greta’s face, a bit wide-eyed, framed by untamed hair, possessed him. And yet the way she looked in the moonlight coming through the window (a complete contradiction to her wild eyes)—peaceful, beautiful, still—moved him: her oval little face, her tiny pink mouth that hung open, revealing peg-shaped lateral teeth. She looked alive, and he imagined what she’d look like after he finished her.
The next morning, Potts got to work. He’d never done a human before, and, in truth, he wondered if it was even legal, but he didn’t let that stop him. He had his one rule: never trap or kill the kittens. That was it. He figured he lived canonically enough.
Potts had become such a master at his craft that he’d almost given up arsenic and most other poisons. For instruments, first and foremost, he relied on his skinning knife, a tool he never quarreled with, one that he liked to say did the work for him. When he’d first learned the trade, he’d bought all the other tools he no longer used, many of which he kept handy and out on his table just in case, a nervous tick. But it was his skinning knife that he trusted the most, the blade long and narrow, four inches along the edge, with a highly polished wooden handle.
Potts would be a liar if he said he wasn’t nervous about Greta. The trouble was that the unguent and the tools other than his skinning knife worked best for smaller kittens. A transfixion knife, he knew, would be the perfect ersatz in this case. As well as his post-mortem hooks. He had to go downstairs and dig those out of his basement, along with still other tools he rarely used.
That done, he sat and stared at Greta for some time, his confidence waning, his thoughts a nervous jumble. Normally, he wouldn’t have thought so much about it, the process of skinning an animal as familiar to him as brushing his teeth. He removed the hide the way you might if you wanted to stew a skinless chicken. He didn’t even have to see the internal organs in the process. Next, he cleaned the hide with special soap and applied preserving chemicals. He then mounted the hide on a resin cast form. To finish it off, he bought eyes and some clay (for around the eyes) from the Internet and placed them in the kitten’s face.
Potts knew that wouldn’t work with a human; the skin was ten times more elastic, and he was concerned about Greta’s skull. He considered following a process he’d read about on Wikipedia, one based on mummification methods from the indigenous people of New Zealand, involving an air pump spewing sulfuric acid to extract all the fluids. But he read it was hard to pull off, so, fearing that Greta’s head and face could be destroyed, he went in another direction. He’d have only one shot to get this right.
Of course, there was always mummification. Again, he turned to the Internet for guidance. (YouTube produced a number of edifying videos). This was far more grotesque than animal taxidermy. He would have to remove the brain by mashing it into mush and pulling it out, piece by piece through a crack in Greta’s skull, with a hooked instrument. Pour resin and an antibacterial mixture into the cavity. Remove all the internal organs—the heart, the lungs, and so forth. Oil and bandage the body. It was daunting and made him feel as if he’d be preparing beef jerky.
Plan B. He cast a replica, a death mask, to preserve Greta’s facial features. He used her actual scalp to keep her original hair color and style, adding in some blond synthetic pieces to make it fuller (she had very thin hair). There were a few other bits of cosmetic work he performed, galvanizing the dead little girl into life.
As for Greta’s body, since it would be clothed again, he wasn’t worried that it would be more mannequin-like in quality, but he cast her hands from the originals, too.
As he worked on Greta over the next two months, Potts dreamed up a diorama for her. She would be part of an exhibit called Kittens at the Tea Table, Part Trois. Part Deux consisted of actual kittens enjoying tea at a modern kitchen table. (Part Une was Walter Potter’s classic diorama and a crowd favorite.) Potts envisioned a similar scene for Greta and hoped to curate it for the Maker Faire. He’d have to get the old woman’s approval, of course, but a little money usually went a long way, he thought.
The final result of all his efforts was more than satisfying. Greta looked lifelike and sweet sitting at his kitchen table, wearing the same wide-eyed look she’d had when he first saw her. He added a finishing touch, resting her hand on a book and placing an empty teacup in front of her.
Too bad he couldn’t have Greta all to himself, he thought.
During the two months that had passed before Potts was satisfied with Greta, he hadn’t heard a peep from the old woman who’d brought the little girl to him. He would have to track her down. She had left her name, Ms. Winter, and an address, in Port Richmond, on her paperwork but no phone number or e-mail address.
In his old Volvo, Potts drove there from South Philadelphia, a quick trip on Columbus Boulevard, then through Northern Liberties, Fishtown, and Kensington, until he arrived at her address on York Street.
He knocked on the door several times, but no one answered. He made a trip back to his car, searching through the glove compartment for a piece of paper to leave her a note to come pick up Greta. He found an unused napkin and, pulling a Sharpie from his pocket, wrote the old woman a note.
After he put the napkin in the door, he heard someone come up behind him. He turned around and saw a tall, friendly-looking man wearing a baseball cap.
“You looking for Ms. Winter?”
“Yes. Yes, I . . . have something of hers to return.”
“Aye, old woman passed a month ago.”
“I-I’m sorry to hear that.”
“They buried her in the Greenwood Cemetery.”
“The historic site?”
“They sell lots again. Besides, she’s in the family.”
“Oh? I never got her first name.”
“Margaret,” the man said. “Margaret Winter, may she rest in peace. Whatever it is you have of hers, she’d probably want you to have it now.”
“But . . . what about her granddaughter? I mean, her granddaughter’s parents?”
“What granddaughter? Margaret had no family left.”
“Yes. Yes, of course. No one to leave her property to?”
“Oh dear.” It wasn’t appropriate, he knew. But when he got back into his car, Potts smiled broadly, a smile that bared his teeth, a smile that stayed fixed all the way home.
The night before the Philadelphia art and crafts festival, Potts couldn’t sleep. He had gotten out of bed after he heard a loud thud. He raced to see what was the matter (he had grown to be so protective of his kittens). He ran down the hallway, past the bathroom, into the kitchen, and all the way to his worktable, where he saw the back of Greta’s head. He let out a sigh. She was fine, sitting upright, untouched. But as he looked closer, he saw that her head was turning toward him.
“Greta,” he gasped. She was alive. The thud he had heard must’ve come when she slammed down her teacup, her small hand still gripping the cup.
“Do you—Do you want some tea?” he asked.
“No,” she said. “I’m sad.”
“Why are you sad?” He sat down next to her and took her hand in his.
“No one will play with me.”
He looked around at his kittens, and they were all alive, playing, the toads on the windowsill, the hamsters on the sofa, and so forth, a low buzz humming from the commotion but none of them paying any attention to Greta.
“You want your grandma?”
She nodded. “I want a new friend. Get me a new friend.”
“Of course,” Potts said. “Of course I will.” And he played with his kittens until he could no longer stay awake. Then he left Greta and the others, walked back to his bedroom, and slept.
“Of course I will,” Potts repeated the next morning.
Early that afternoon, a woman came to see him at his vendor’s tent about her recently deceased miniature poodle, Phoebe, who had gone to sleep and never woke up again. She wanted a diorama of the pristine Phoebe wearing pearls and dressing at a little vanity. Potts handed her one of his cards and asked her if she’d like to set up an appointment. The woman told him she’d e-mail him to set up a time since she needed to check her schedule before doing so.
At lunch, in the festival’s food court, he got in line for the taco truck to get a chicken taco and a bottle of water. A few steps in front of him, he saw a little brunette with striking, doll-like features, wearing the most adorable yellow dress, standing with Phoebe’s mother and a man he could only assume was her father. There was a flash of light, a spark of inspiration, as Potts envisioned a scene with tiny blond Greta and this little brunette girl sitting across from each other at the table drinking tea. This was what he’d been waiting for; she’d been sent to him.
He walked up to the woman. “I forgot to get your phone number. Just in case.”
“Let me write it down.” She rummaged through her bag, pulled out a small legal pad, and wrote down her name and number.
“This is Lucy,” she said, indicating her little girl. “And this is my husband, Jonny.”
“Nice to meet you,” Potts said.
“Honey, this man will be taking care of Phoebe.”
“You’ll bring Phoebe home?” Lucy asked.
“Yes,” he said. And he smiled.
“Good.” She hugged his leg.
“That’s enough, Lucy.” Thank you, the woman mouthed.
Potts stuffed the phone number into his blazer pocket, and then stepped back into line, all the way at the end. He was smiling.
After the festival, Potts got into his Volvo. What was he thinking? He couldn’t use Lucy. He had his one rule that applied to his kittens—never, ever hunt them down or kill them—and it must apply to humans, too.
But a competing one followed this thought. Taxidermists mounted birds and bears and wolves, rarely humans. Humans would be his terrain. That would show the Sams and blue-haired Cheries of the world how novel he could be. So why shouldn’t he bend the rules? For art’s sake, he thought. No, no, he decided. That would never do.
He went home and pulled up the Greenwood Cemetery Web site on the Internet. He learned the cemetary was undergoing renovations, which meant that certain areas were blocked off temporarily due to unsafe conditions, even from the families’ of the deceased. After looking up her name, he found that Margaret’s grave was in a newer lot on the south side of the cemetery. There was no office there, the Internet informed him, and, consequently, no guards employed. He also read that the owners planned to increase security by investing in new lighting and restoring the perimeter fencing. The gate, the site said, was currently missing in the south and west parts of the cemetery. Lucky for Potts, Ms. Winter’s grave was located in the southern part of the cemetery. There wasn’t even a gate to stop him, Potts thought.
At dusk, he drove to the cemetery. His plan was simple. He would park his car and hide somewhere close to Ms. Winter’s grave. This would give him a way to ensure there were no guards. Then he would wait until after dark, dig up the old woman, put the body into an oversized trash bag, and drive it home. Then he’d do the same thing to her as he had to Greta, giving the girl a companion.
But Ms. Margaret Winter was so old, he thought, so old and wrinkled. Wouldn’t the diorama please a crowd so much more with two young girls, instead of one youngster with her grandmother? Stop it, he said to himself. Enough. Once he’d arrived, he drove around the cemetery in his car, trying to locate the grave.
After sundown, he found himself at Ms. Winter’s grave, shovel in hand, determination in his brow. He’d not seen a single guard. A good time for grave robbers, he thought. But he couldn’t bring himself to penetrate the ground with his shovel. His mind raced to the little brunette, Lucy, at the festival. As lovely as she was in her pretty yellow dress, she’d make the perfect companion for Greta. Lucy haunted him. Get me a new friend, Greta had begged. Lucy would please Greta. Get me Lucy.
“Of course,” he said. “Of course I will.” He’d likely see Lucy again soon. Her parents would bring her to him when they brought Phoebe. Little Lucy wouldn’t want to be parted for long from her beloved poodle, would she? Of course, did he even have to wait that long to see her? He could always make a house visit. He felt himself cave.
Potts had been a pretty good fellow all his life. He’d always done right, hadn’t he? Just this one time, since it was so important to Greta, he could bend his own rule.
EL ECO DE LAS FORMAS
Melanie Pérez Ortiz
El eco de las formas
Nicole Cecilia Delgado
La conciencia poética está en la hechura del libro. Parte de la sinestesia que alude al tacto y al oído en el título. La coherencia estructura los poemas breves, que se repiten como el eco, sonido que rebota y retorna de forma ominosa. Son las cosas que nos hablan, no nuestra propia voz que regresa luego de un viaje que es a su vez hacia adentro y hacia afuera. Comienza el libro con la propuesta de que el deseo no tiene terminación de número ni de género. La gramática no basta para decir la realidad compleja que va más allá de las dicotomías. Por eso se escribe. Porque hay que escarbar el lenguaje, zarandearlo, para que diga la realidad contemporánea más allá de lo que nos han posibilitado las formas de comunicación hasta ahora. Dice:
geometría de la lengua
descontrolable forma del deso
descontrolante sonido del temor
todo lo voy nombrando
ansia nominal estar contigo
enredando las puntas de cada avistamiento
tóxica y teórica
mezclada y confundida
no tiene terminación de número o de género
Para los Náhuatl la poesía eran flores (León Portilla). Acá la lengua hace poesía sin jardín. Más que un orden cuidado, será naturaleza agreste y, a partir de esta apertura, las cosas se dirán en pares, produciendo así un eco mínimo. Ese eco repetirá los asuntos que ya subrayé al comentar otros poemarios. El viaje, la flor que viaja o guía el viaje, como la rosa de los vientos:
rumbo indefinido decidir de tanto rumbo
contamina los delirios de mis piernas viaje
rosa de los vientos
cambiaría mis pasos por beber tu ombligo.
La idea del ir y el estar; el balance entre el universo y lo íntimo, puesto que éste está, es, en el ombligo de cualquiera. Sea éste hombre o mujer. El lenguaje mezcla los signos:
sobresalto mi voz entre tus sobresaltos
para beber el semen de tus pechos
hombre mujer del hueco herido
dame una llave
que sane la penumbra mástil de tu espesa luz.
Acá el símbolo fálico es luz que penetra y como en esa última frase, se mezcla lo relacionado con el hombre con lo relacionado con la mujer –todos tenemos un hueco herido– y el objeto del deseo será ambos, o cualquiera.
Si zacudir el lenguaje no basta para que diga la realidad de los circuitos que conectan más allá de las fronteras que estamos acostumbrados a divisar por todas partes, pues entonces escuchemos el silencio.
diálogo oculto entendimiento en imposibilidad del diálogo
cada cual a la mesa gentío de reflejos
todas las voces hablan
párpado y sospecha
la entrelínea del silencio dice algo.
El gentío que habla y se refleja, aunque no necesariamente se escuche, aunque no se hable, conversa. En este libro, la reescritura más violenta es la que insiste en vivir con comodidad el oxímoron, la proposición ilógica pues va sobre el significante hombre que necesita desvestirse de su transparencia. El poemario clama por ese ser hecho de partes de distintas especies en la penúltima sección titulada “Belleza monstruo”.
constelación de genealogías inconclusas
de nuevo las palabras han sido lavadas
y trepan las paredes
contamina los espejos transparentes, hombre:
ensúciate las manos de una vez.
Me recuerda la exigencia de la voz poética de Alfonsina Storni en su poema titulado “Tú me quieres blanca”:
Huye hacia los bosques,
Vete a la montaña;
Límpiate la boca;
Vive en las cabañas;
Toca con las manos
La tierra mojada;
Alimenta el cuerpo
Con raíz amarga;
Bebe de las rocas;
Duerme sobre escarcha;
Con salitre y agua;
Habla con los pájaros
Y lévate al alba.
Y cuando las carnes
Te sean tornadas,
Y cuando hayas puesto
En ellas el alma
Que por las alcobas
Se quedó enredada,
Entonces, buen hombre,
En la versión de Delgado, las palabras se vuelven vegetal nuevamente; una hiedra. El hombre debe alcanzar el momento actual que no soporta los reflejos nítidos y claros. Por eso la última sección del poemario está dedicada al hombre nuevo. Así los versos comienzan, luego del hombre con labios pintados, con el “hombre corporación / hombre teléfono roto / hombre sofisticado y serio / hombre zapatos cerrados…”.
Y lo va moldeando con la palabra hasta que al final sale, tal vez con las manos finalmente sucias el:
insólito hombre anacrónico
hombre del futuro
magnífico hombre indefinido
sin precedente e indómito
Y se celebra su llegada con el “por fin” con que cierra este trabajo de reescritura del hombre que genera al hombre nuevo, aludiendo a la política de los años sesenta, donde se quiso construirlo sin dejar atrás al viejo. El hombre nuevo es mutante, andrógino: hombre-mujer, humano sin concordancias gramaticales fijas, finalmente.
Para leer el texto en su totalidad visite:
Literature 11th issue –
Now introducing: L.U.P.I and El Tejedor en….
L.U.P.I, which stands for “La Unica Puerta a la Izquierda” (the only door to the right), is one of those projects you immediatly fall in love with once they cross your way. This one came in the way of a friend of a friend who wanted some camera help for their documentation process. And so I met Juanje at the fantastic “blackhole” I always end up at (and never remember leaving), a bar that has been my hiding place for the past couple of years. Rainy summer day at Terraza bar, and the beers bring forth a delicious conversation…such is the life of a worldthreader. Next to me is Juanje Sanz, a photographer and writer of great skills and creative will, who has recently arrived from Spain to work, interview, and document, the work of 17 LatinAmerican Poets residing in New York, as part of his project “El Tejedor en…”, an Anthology collection that travels through different cities of the world, in search of new voices that represent the rhythms and lifestyle of each city. This is where Juanje tells me that “El Tejedor en…” is one of the many projects taking place under L.U.P.I, an independent publishing house in Spain created around 10 years ago.
For our second meeting, right at the edge of Roosevelt Island, Juanje and his wife Maika share the story of L.U.P.I: It all started with a day of drinking and some creative friends gathering to discuss books and initiatives. This took place at the left side of the Nervión, a river in Euskadi, Spain, which by random coincidence is also the side where most left-minded individuals of the region reside. As an inside joke, he explains that whenever someone asks at a bar where the restrooms are, the typical answer is “straight ahead, the only door to the far left”… and this is how the name was born. The collective idea was created by Hugo Larrazabal, Juanje Sanz, and Jose Blanco as a publishing experiment, a response to the need of bringing a series of alternative concepts to print. First came “El Tejedor de Palabras”, (the threader of words… or shall I say word threader?) a fanzine that collected free-form poetry, distributed for free to like-minded individuals. With time, a new fanzine was created (el inverso), a fanzine that worked with two writers each time. This led to the need of building an independent publishing company that would establish and sustain itself.
After a Hiatus, in 2007 Juanje Sanz took the iniciative to continue L.U.P.I and register it, creating an association for publishing purposes. It spread its wings in Edita, a congress of independent publishing houses that takes place in Umbria, where Juanje developed a database and learned about procedures and publishing styles. Travel back to 2011 and now L.U.P.I has 5 different collections: Narrative, poetry, arts, experimental art, and anthologies. In NY, the project being created is for the Anthology collection of “El tejedor en Nueva York”. The selection for this publication was done by anthologists Javier Molea and Isabel Cadenas. The selection process required that the poets chosen all reside in New York for at least 1 year, (none were born here) have different poetic and narrative styles to be able to display New York’s voice, and that their voices be young and new to the field, so as to bring forth the opportunity of having published work while showing the new styles being born in New York. They asked each of the poets: “Why would your poetry not be chosen to be included in an anthology?” with the belief that if their works are being rejected by other publishing companies, then their work is rebellious, it is poetry or experimental prose born on the streets, non-conventional, and displaying non-conforming concepts, risky subjects and rhythms, where each writer has developed their own language. Juanje explains that they are not searching for bestsellers but for originality in their concepts and views. Some of the poets included are Karina Claudio, Urayoan Noel, Diego Liriko and Natalia Aristizabal.
“El Tejedor en Madrid” was the first number of this collection. A selection by poet and anthologist David Gonzales, with 15 poets participating, all residing in Madrid but none born there, this anthology allowed for new connections and opportunities for L.U.P.I. and was the beginning of a handful of projects and new ideas and collaborations.
Upcoming is “El Tejedor en Berlin”. Juanje explains that all the poets who will be included are Spanish-speaking, members of the big Latin American community that resides there, as well as of Russians who write in Spanish. It takes around 2 years for research, selection, interview, editing and formatting of each anthology. In his opinion, no external pressure allows for quality and creative flexibility. You can easily see this in each of the books L.U.P.I presents.
A Poetry Biennal in Euskadi is one of L.U.P.I’s upcoming events for 2012. it takes place once a year and this is the third issue. Medellin, Berlin and Milan, plus many cities in Spain will be part of this event. Red Door Magazine has invited Juanje Sanz to become a correspondent, and to continue threading waters, sharing stories and projects with us. Welcome, L.U.P.I, to our family.
To learn more, visit:
JUDITH SANTOPIETRO – Mexico
Bosque de silencio:
Los clavos nocturnos de la remembranza
donde nace la yerba:
se escucha un grillo en el intervalo de los tiempos
y descubro la tristeza aún sonriente.
Por el surco del armadillo resbala su voz el hombre
con sus pómulos de muerte alegre,
miro la profundidad del ojo como una cañada de rocas,
de raíces duras,
de historia de brujos.
Me encuentro yerba,
nervadura de hoja,
mortero donde se tritura el llanto,
fermento que se bebe de alegría.
Sierra Mazateca, Oaxaca, México.
El nacimiento de la palabra
Entre la poesía sin memoria
todo aquello del agua y la luz,
los primeros cantos fuera del caracol.
Regresa el sonido
de los hierros que se forjan,
y las piedras,
una a una,
con su enfurecido calor
recrean la ciudad
del silencio surge la evocación.
Miro el paso del hombre por un cantil,
nombra las cosas con su instinto,
y dice árbol al árbol
fuego al fuego
tierra a la tierra,
en su andar por el tiempo
cuestiona la abrumadora pendiente de los sonidos;
abre los ojos
y está pronta su historia,
una y otra vez,
escrita sobre el lomo de la roca.
En el crepúsculo de la existencia,
surge la danza de mi palabra
y su savia recorre mi lengua
y su voz fecunda el mito
de los hombres del maíz,
abreva la luz naciente
cuando se tiene el profundo saber
de que todo está vivo.
La palabra que se incendia tiene el corazón de lava,
fluye por las venas de un volcán adormilado
que pareciera soplarnos en el cuerpo
su voz de ceniza.
Hubo un fuego originario de los tiempos,
ardieron los campos
la llama no cesa bajo los dobleces volcánicos
de esta pirámide milenaria.
Ciudad de polvo
A las asesinadas de Ciudad Juárez.
Una mujer se agota
en la esquina de la mesa
se acurruca como gato adormilado
en la ventana
piensa en el menú de costumbre:
pan sacado del nido de su vientre
bajo un carraspeo polvoso
entre rescoldos de calor y lluvia
Camina a la sombra de nubes corroídas
que sangran el parto de la tarde
plomo al acecho
Aquella vez la mujer a la distancia
parecía árbol quieto
deslizaba pasos por la noche llovida
de barro y costillas disecadas
aún oí sus raíces chasquear entre los autos
el repiqueteo de sus puños
sobre la ventana ciega
la voz que parpadeaba de silencio
como enramado tembloroso en el vacío:
una cruz de quietud y desierto:
el adiós intemporal
La mujer a la intemperie
en el cráneo abierto del dolor
en un cuarto enmohecido de gargantas silenciosas
Yo no destilo gotas
eso es tan inútil como dormir
con el cuchillo entre las manos
como los topos que hurgan
los resquicios polvorientos:
Nadie las encuentra
nadie siembra el llanto contra el piso
No sabía a dónde iban las mujeres apiladas
en el quiebre del camino:
a dormir el sueño entre las dunas
en la oscura línea del desierto
fermentadas ante el sol
con su presencia eterna y árida
El día que saliste de mí el sol era un círculo manso,
inundaste las rendijas de esta húmeda pocilga con un llanto prolongado
Tus ojos, grandes en esta habitación de grillos
para mirar una casa de pequeños muros,
y mi vieja razón, esa piedra de filos indeseables, pregunta a dónde ir
Con el vendaval, las chozas se balancean
y son menos que toda la miseria de la gente astillada en la ciudad
Te fuiste un día de soplos
y el resquemor sobrevino para siempre;
las casas parecían no soportarlo
bullían de luz las tiendas
el desierto era frío
después el sol doró las ramas y la arena,
el calor fue espada ardiente que acuchilla la piel
bajo este halo de cristales negros
en esta oscuridad que golpea con su nombre y su cuerpo
retorna a beber su aliento
Esta madrugada la muerte pringa sobre la ventana
despierto con la sonrisa de tu vida entre las manos
hace varios minutos de minutos que no veo nada igual
Todo montañas y silencio
uno eco de la nada agolpado en esta calle
que enmudece ante la sangre y la arena
Camino por un breve hilo de luz
mientras la sombra inquieta de las ramas
se oscurece en mis pupilas
al ras de la calle ellos se detienen
no hay más que un telón próximo de estrellas.
Todo cúmulo de huesos
y la oscuridad por donde voy
con el miedo en las manos
igual a un rosario que se incrusta al pecho
en esta brevedad de cielo
uno desea que el día se postergue
hasta ser un candelabro en nuestros ríos solitarios
esta breve quietud de las horas secas
de los días que despiertan
para recordar la presencia
junto a la antigua cruz sobre la acera.
Judith Santopietro (Córdoba, Veracruz, México, 1983). Ha publicado en Anuario de Poesía Mexicana 2006, Fondo de Cultura Económica; Memoria del Encuentro Nacional de Literatura en Lenguas Indígenas, Escritores en Lenguas Indígenas; Del Silencio hacia la Luz: Mapa Poético de México; Antología literaria Musa de Musas,Poesía de Mujeres desde la Ciudad de México, Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes; III Recital Chilango-Andaluz 08, Editorial Cocó, España, 2008; World Oral Literature Project, Voices of Vanishing Worlds, University of Cambridge, Reino Unido; la plaquette: Raíz de Vuelo, Editorial El Barco Ebrio-HomoScriptum, EE UU; Se incendia la palabra, Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura del Ayuntamiento de Puebla; Ciudad de Polvo, Editorial Ultramarina Cartonera & Digital, España; y en revistas y suplementos de México, Perú, Chile y Canadá.
Mención honorífica en el Premio Nacional de Poesía “Tuxtepec-Río Papaloapan”, Oaxaca; Segundo lugar en los L Juegos Florales Nacionales de Poesía “Lázara Meldiú”, Veracruz; finalista en Rolex Awards for Enterprise: Young Laureates Programme 2010, categoría Preservación Cultural, Fundación Rolex, Suiza.
Ha participado en III y IV Encuentro Internacional de Escritores del Caribe, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, México; Primer Encuentro Latinoamericano de Poesía, IV Festival Palabra en el Mundo, Instituto Veracruzano de Cultura, Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes; XXX y XXXI Feria Internacional del Libro del Palacio de Minería; III y IV Recital Chilango-Andaluz, México y Sevilla, España; Festival de Poesía Latinoamericana Rodante LATINALE, Berlín, Alemania; Maison du Mexique, París, Francia, además de encuentros, festivales, congresos y documentales de literatura, arte, comunicación y medicina tradicional indígenas, en Colombia, Brasil, México, Perú, El Salvador, Bolivia y Suiza. Actualmente dirige Radio Nómada, Revista y Editorial Cartonera Iguanazul: Literatura en Lenguas Originarias.
ERICK STRAND – MEXICO
Sobre las ruinas de la ciudad que fue
He decidido regresarte
A las calles que fuimos
Trazando avenidas, parques y edificios
A veces, tu ombligo
¿Qué vamos a hacer con esto?
Una fuente, dijiste
Una fuente, pues, a la que regresar
Sin arrojar monedas
No sé, dile tú la verdad a mis huesos
Júrales que sucedimos
Que todo es tan definitivo como tu cadera
Tan terminante como tu hombro suave
Que todo sabe a verdad amarga pero caliente
Café, café tú, café la mañana en que me iba
Aproveché un descuido
No me tomé el café
No dije adiós
Te dejé sola
Ni siquiera escuchaste
El chasquido de la puerta.
Abusando de este instante de silencio
Aprovecho para pronunciaros
Fíjate qué importante
es escuchar el largo lamento ajeno
el espacio estirado, pero medible
de las separaciones
Qué corta es la mirada del que dice ver
Que curtida la piel del que declara sentir
Qué torpe la oriunda caligrafía del que escribe
Toma un pedazo de tela medianamente grande
Capaz de cubrir y oscurecer nuestras dos sombras
Ponlo a comer pan ácimo en tu mano generosa
Prométele lo que sea con tal que lo desee
Pescadora de hombres
Mi idolatrada espalda adolescente adolorida
y de causas
Viene a este lecho faquir de clavos afilados
por las porras eléctricas de los antidisturbios
Hay en los caminos de sangre un curso recto
Una herida necesaria para extraer el líquido sobrante
La hemorragia del pueblo deshilachado por las calles
El sistema diástole de arteria y capilar y vaso y vena
La condensación de celda infame entre cuatro
Sitio de dormir y mear y malcomer por defender
la idea impúber de un mejor yo qué sé
Un mejor lo que sea
Un mejor tal vez
Cualquier mierda será mejor que esto
Las requeteputas varices del mundo que nos toca
y nos hace sentir tan dolorosamente vivos
que ansiamos no estarlo
Si la sangre brillase por las calles como entonces
Escribiendo nuevas páginas gloriosas
Conquistando con heroísmo libertades
Pero mira, Marta; mira, Joaquín; miren, muchachos
La sangre coagulada ni rueda ni fluye
Se apesta de moscas y de larvas
Mueren los muertos anónimos sin incienso
Y su sangre de héroes es un cuajo repugnante
A Beatriz le pegó un balazo de la policía
Y en vez de quejarse
Lo meció y le cantó canción de cuna
Hasta que del bulto doloroso de su brazo
creció un mundito nuevo, pequeño, diminuto
Yo vi todo, fui testigo
(Uno de esos monosabios que se tapan las orejas
los ojos, la boca y la conciencia
y que se venden en las tiendas de los chinos)
De cómo le patearon la cara y la subieron a la camioneta
Y de cómo Beatriz, que ya no podía balbucear, cantaba
canción de cuna a lo que le nacía
Desde lo más dentro
A mí primero
Luego a ti
Nos fuera dada la insolencia
El serse reflexivo
El habitarse a solas
Volver a la soledad
De estos asuntos
De ti libo la miel de tu dorsal espina
La córnea de tuyo párpado mirarme
Tu resolución de uña, arado y surco mío
Palabra malparida y biendicha en relámpago
Metalurgia y alquimia nuestros sexos
Robándose, insultándose, golpeándose
Mostrando lo peor del amor y sus resquicios
Nos sacamos el alma como se extrae un caracol
Y no dejamos nada ni al sol ni a la sospecha
Morimos y matamos
Dices que hay que hacer café
Tus motivos tendrás, mas yo miro la tarde
Hecha lluvia en ventana y cama y día
Hecha miércoles, febrero o lo que llueva
Carbón tus pezones trazando mi espalda persistente
No deseo que esto no haya sucedido.
ERICK STRAND: Ni yo mismo recuerdo de dónde salió mi pseudónimo, pero con el pasar de los años se ha ido convirtiendo en un hermano que me acompaña en las letras y me permite tomar distancia de mí mismo. Gracias a él me permito incursionar sin el menor pudor en la poesía, el relato, el ensayo, la novela. Erick Strand es el yo que escribe y se sorprende del resto de mi azarosa y azorada vida cotidiana. A veces, reclama su tiempo como amigo para decirme mis verdades, sin rodeos, a sabiendas de que de él no puedo esconderme. Él imagina que soy su creación. Es muy posible.