All posts by antonellamenta

One Last Time

The only way I could start this blog was, obviously, quoting George Washington on my title (or at least George Washington’s character on Hamilton). One Last Time is a heartbreaking song where the presidents “teach[es] them how to say goodbye”. In case you want to check it, I am nowhere close to Washington’s greatness but his words are very compelling and appropiate  for what we are facing.

I guess you know by now this a goodbye entry. I have enjoyed working on this blog so much about a topic I love so much, it is actually hard for me to say goodbye as well. Through all of my entries (Of Poetry and Blogs, The Blog Where It Happens, Can’t Do It Alone, Juana de América, Doing It For the Likes, [She Is] The Dragon Breathing Fire, Beautiful Man, and now this one) I have been able to express myself and to defend something I strongly believed needs to be defended: poetry as a necessity for the human soul. I have enjoyed these few weeks more than you can imagine and I have learned quite a lot as well.

There is only something left for me to do to say goodbye: show a poem where somebody who writes better than me can explain that exact feeling sometimes is hard to describe. Dear fellows, a brief fragment from A La Inmensa Mayoría by Blas de Otelo:

Aquí tenéis, en canto y alma, al hombre
aquel que amó, vivió, murió por dentro
y un buen día bajó a la calle: entonces
comprendió: y rompió todos su versos.

(here you have, in song and soul, that man who loved, lived, died inside and one good day he came down to the street: then he understood: and he ripped all of his verses).

 Have a good day.

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[She is] the dragon breathing fire, beautiful man.

The main medium used by poetry this year has been… you guessed it! Music. This have been an amazing year for the music industry and there is still much to come. I’m going to focus on the work of one woman who is “back by popular demand”: Beyonce. It is kind of confusing that Americans dropped tea on the ocean to get rid of the monarchy only to claim Beyonce as their queen now, but it is kind of understandable as well.

Beyonce released her new album, Lemonade, on April 23, 2016 – you can listen to the whole album on her web. You may or may not like her music style, but there are some things that cannot be dennied included, per example, the outstanding reception it has had. And this is because, regardless of the music (which for some is marvelous at least), this album is probably the most relevant work on poetry made during and for this year. It’s hard to explain it completely, so I’ll do a quick review.

First, this album is co-written by Warsan Shire, a 27 years old poet born in Kenya and raised in London. She is one of the few Young Poet Laureate and she is recognized on the album as one of the main contributors, above producers and such. If this is not the clearest example on why we can call some music lyrics poetry… If you would like to know more about her, here’s Shire reading one of her poems, For Women Who Are Difficult To Love:

Moving on, the second reason I think this poetry work is so compelling is that it has a strong social component. Beyonce is not just singing some catchy pop song (which lots of people, including me, enjoy); she is talking about the deep feelings of an individual, the process of recovery from what it seems to be an infidelity from her husband but that could be as well the process of accepting her own self on the society we live in. This has been said multiple times, but it might not be stressed enough: in this album, Beyonce is unapologetically a woman, and unapologetically black. She reclaims the whole of her blackness and feminity, tearing down to pieces whatever hurts her about the way society understands them and rising powerfully like a phoenix from the ashes. She is an amazing black woman and a wonderful human being, and she knows it. This album is even a call for action not only for social movements like the Black Lives Matter, but for black women to recognize their value because they are black and because they are women. Beyonce has done an amazing activist work here and specially relevant nowadays.

To finish this post, I would like to show you a quite-on-point sketch by SNL that shows an approximate but not entirely exact representation on the impact of Formation, the first single released from the album:

Doing it for the likes

     Well, I’m definetly not doing this blog for the likes: poetry seems such an old-fashioned topic nowadays that it barely has any presence on social media. But… doesn’t it?

     As I have previously stated, poetry is still alive nowadays in ways we would sometimes not even think aboout it. Songs are one way, and songs are all over the internet. From buzzfeed pages that recommend lyrics for when you need an instagram caption (because lyrics -aka poetry- are the best captions); to the fact that virutally every single or song is uploaded on youtube (you can check our early post, most of which include songs/poems from this social media). Just the same way than printing press did more than half a century ago, internet is expanding the horizons of distribution of knowledge and, even though poetry is not “trendy” as such, it still benefits for the easiness of distribution with which internet provides for. Some media, such as twitter, is giving poetry new forms: instead of sonets, we now have 140 characters tweets. The Independent explains how this new form of poetry was born and raised. Twitter is as well, overall, a good channel for the distribution of poetry through accounts such as The Poetry Society (which holds an official status). Was that not enough, I have already mentioned on some previous posts how poetry was meant to be listened to, and for that goal Youtube would be a perfect example of social media where poetry is not only present, but where it can grow to become multidimensional.

     Poetry survives all across social media with and without people noticing. It’s not a fade, it’s not “hipster”, and it’s not only on the hands of a few, cultured people: anyone shares poetry on their social media today… and some of them do it for the likes. Because we do like poetry.

Antonella.

Juana de América

The task I am facing today is so difficult I barely even know how to start. Could you chose a single poet?  Bear in mind, dear reader, that I am not actually choosing. I am only giving an example. And my heart is, yet, all the same devastated.

I chose this particular poet because of two reasons. The first one is that she is Uruguayan (as am I), and Uruguay is such a small country that, despite having the most wonderful poets, they are barely known – and you deserve to know them. Second, it is because she is a woman. Woman are so wonderfully smart and had been so historically conditioned to be more in touch with their emotional side, that I still amazes me that we have so few renown female poets. I would write this blog post about Sappho for all that I know, if it wasn’t for my choice number #1: representing my little country. (Also, even though we are not being taught about them, there are thousands of amazing female poets everywhere).

Moving on, you must meet Juana de Ibarbourou! She was born in Melo, Uruguay in 1892, and married Lucas Ibarbourou at 20, from whom she kept the surname. Her writing style was strongly influenced by modernism, and touched topics such as maternity, beauty, nature, eroticism and, most importantly, her own thoughts in relation to her feelings and emotions; specially on her first books: Las lenguas de diamante (1919), El cántaro fresco (1920) and Raíz salvaje (1922). In 1929 she was proclaimed “Juana de America”, ceremony in which she was giving a ring symbolizing her union with the continent. In her futher poems, she moved closer to a more intimate and less modernist style with La rosa de los vientos (1930), getting closer to surrealism. Amongst others, she published Perdida (1950), Azor (1953) y Romances del destino (1955).[1] In 1947 she was chosen for a seat on the Academia Nacional de Letras. In 1950, she was chosen president of the Sociedad Uruguaya de Escritores. She was rewarded by Madrid’s Instituto de Cultura Hispánica in 1955 and the Gran Premio Nacional de Literatura on its very first edition in 1959. After her dead in 1979, she was buried with honors by the State, being the first woman in Uruguay to be awarded such distinction. [2]

I will now let you evaluate the magnificence of her poetry by yourself, with one of the poems I like the most and with which I feel the most identified.

La inquietud fugaz

He mordido manzanas y he besado tus labios.juana_web1
Me he abrazado a los pinos olorosos y negros.
Hundí, inquieta, mis manos en el agua que corre.

He huroneado en la selva milenaria de cedros
que cruza la pradera como una serpie grave,
y he corrido por todos los pedrosos caminos
que ciñen como fajas la ventruda montaña.

¡Oh amado, no te irrites por mi inquietud sin tregua!
¡Oh amado, no me riñas porque cante y me ría!
Ha de llegar un día en que he de estarme quieta,
¡ay, por siempre, por siempre!
con las manos cruzadas y apagados los ojos;
con los oídos sordos y con la boca muda,
y los pies andariegos en reposo perpetuo
sobre la tierra negra.
¡Y estará roto el vaso de cristal de mi risa
En la grieta obstinada de mis labios cerrados!

Entonces, aunque digas: -¡Anda!, ya no andaré.
Y aunque me digas: -¡Canta!, no volveré a cantar.
Me iré desmenuzando en quietud y en silencio
bajo la tierra negra,
mientras encima mío se oirá zumbar la vida
como una abeja ebria.

¡Oh, déjame que guste el dulzor del momento
fugitivo e inquieto!

¡Oh, deja que la rosa desnuda de mi boca
se te oprima a los labios!

Después será ceniza sobre la tierra negra.

Antonella

Can’t do it alone

Bibliography: a list of works, esp. a list of source materials used in preparing a work or referred to in the text (WordReference Random House Learner’s Dictionary of American English © 2016).

Today we are going to talk about giving credits, people! I’m starting with the definition of bibliography because that is the best example of giving credit I can think of. Despite how boring I find working on my bibliographies (I mean, my essay is done and so am I, can’t we just forget about it already?), I think they are maybe the most important part of anything you work on, because it validates your ideas and acknowledges the people who actually thought them. In other words, you don’t steal (and you wouldn’t like to be stolen from, right?) and you give your work more value. It was about time we did one for our blog!

First things first, I wanna give credits to my wonderful blogmates, Ana and Pablo, without whom this blog would have way less content and value. I salute you.

Second, because I am quite old-fashioned and like to pretend I live in the 19th century, my main poetry source is a book, you know, those made of paper with stuff print on them. I know, it’s weird. Anyway, the internet is way more useful because it doesn’t matter how complete my book is, it is quite far from having an absolute compilation of poetry. Sorry, book. Where do I find the poems I refer to? I know and quote mostly Spanish poetry, but I found a site for English poetry in case you want to check (or in case I ever quote English poetry which is pretty good as well). In my ignorance I am unable to understand poetry from other languages, but I would love to read (translations of) and appreciate it, so if you have any recommendation for places to find poetry in your language, please leave them in the comments (thanks!).

Lastly, I would like to acknowledge the multimedia society in which we live, where poetry has gone beyond some print in some book or webpage. In this multidimensional poetry, which is not only meant to be read, but also to be interpreted, seen and listened to (quite as if we were turning back to the Ancient Greek times!), Spoken Word is one of my favorite examples. Button Poetry (tw: rape, violence, suicide, crime, illness…) is a very compelling youtube channel that collects works from the most prominent poets from our time speaking out about the problems of (mostly) western society. This poetry has more strength because of the way it is interpreted, a tool that perfectly fits its purpose (creating social awareness), and I highly recommend it.

And that’s all so far. I will keep on quoting my sources on my following posts when relevant and necessary. Have a good day and, don’t forget, give credit!

Antonella

The Blog Where It Happens

Alternative titles to this blog post: “The Story of Today”, “Poetry Has Its Eyes on You”, “Case of Study #1″,”Your Obedient Author”. In case you haven’t guessed yet, I have caught the Hamilton fever, which stared about a week ago when I first got my hands on the soundtrack and basically been listening to it Non-Stop.

In case you don’t know, Hamilton is a Broadway Musical Production by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Although, if you don’t know, I  wonder for how long you have been living under a rock. Hamilton has been all over the place for months now. Tickets are virtually sold out in perpetuity, is constantly winning prices and breaking records, and has changed the way we understand theater forever. I am quite sure there is nothing I can say about its relevance that has not been said before.

And why is this relevant to a poetry blog?” – Some of my readers, probably.

Music is the way poetry survives nowadays. In fact, music is the way music survives nowadays. During the XVII century, music was mostly instrumental and three poets could be found under every cobblestone. Somehow through the centuries all of this changed, for better or for worse, and now it’s easy to consider poetry in the verge of extinction. But the same way nobody would say music nowadays is irrelevant, it would be at least ignorant to forget modern music as the main way poetry lives and prospers right now.

And when it comes to poetry, Hamilton is one of the masterpieces of our time. The story of one of America’s founding father goes from love to hate to happiness to despair to political dispute to the great ideals that shape humanity and history. Combine this with very different musical styles flawlessly performed and Miranda’s writing mastery, and the 46 Hamilton’s songs are to be considered one of the best recompilation of poetry of the XXI century (less than two decades into it).

In case you are still not convinced of its greatness, I attach the trailer for the OBC show. In case you are, you can follow for more news on twitter or facebook. Watch out – the Hamilton phenomenon is far from over.

Antonella

Of poetry and blogs

Poetry is not dead, not yet, not ever.

My name is Antonella and I am a activist on the defence of several topics, amongst which poetry is included. As Mr. Keatin taught us: “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” (Dead Poets Society, 1989). Hardly can there be found a better defense to poetry and I will not yet try to improve it.

I have been reading for as long as I can remember, so I don’t remember the first poem I read. I remember, however, the first poem I memorized, when I was nine. I liked it so much, I decided it was about time for me to learn at least one poem by heart, and this one was short and deeply meaningful.

“¿Qué es poesía? Preguntas mientras clavas

en mi pupila tu pupila azul.

¿Qué es poesía? ¿Y tú me lo preguntas?

Poesía… eres tú.”

(“What’s poetry? You ask as you fix in my pupil your blue pupil. What’s poetry? And you ask me? Poetry… is you”). 

I didn’t even knew who Bécquer was or how much I would get to love him later in life, but that poem captured my heart forever to the wonders of the most beautiful, passionate and inspiring literature ever created. Learning about the Romantics was one of the happiest moments of my teenage years and probably of my life. Breaking whatever notion of “aesthetics” I was taught since childhood to discover the wonders of modern art and poetry was enlightening and touching. I am a writer but I cannot, no matter how hard I try, write poetry – that only makes me like it better.

So poetry is not dead, and, for as long as I live, I will make sure it stays that way.

Do you need proof? Take a look at this blog. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.

Antonella

P.S.: here is a link to my current favourite poem, in Spanish as well.