En perseguirme, Mundo ¿qué interesas?

This week blogpost provides me an incredible second chance. Some weeks ago I uploaded an “important case study”, which meant that I had to investigate and write about an event, or a poem, or a person in specific. I chose to do it about Sarah Kay, whom I admire, and her poetry. Yet, the decision was tough because I really wanted to do it about a Latin American poet. However, today I have de amazing opportunity to tell you about one of my favorite poets, who not only is Latin-American but also happens to be Mexican (Yay!).

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was born in San Miguel Nepantla, Mexico, in 1651 and died in Mexico City in 1695. She was a child prodigy; she learnt to read at the age of 3 and wrote her first poem at the age of 8. She loved reading, studying and writing, and that´s why she took the decision of joining the Order of St. Jerome. She wasn´t really religious, but she didn´t feel like getting married and if she joined the Order she could keep doing what she loved.

She was one of the most emblematic figures of Romanticism in Latin America. And she is also well known for her liberal perspectives; she could even be considered a predecessor for feminist literature. Examples of her femenist tendencies might be found in her book “Respuesta a Sor Filotea” [1] or in her poem “Hombres Necios” [2].

To finish this entry I would like to post “En perseguirme, Mundo ¿qué interesas?” which is a poem that not only portraits the feminism we were talking about earlier, but also portraits her style. Even if you don´t understand Spanish very well, you can realize by the way it sounds that it is a masterpiece. And if you really want to understand the poem thoroughly, I am glad to remind you that there are certain tools that can help you. Without anything else to say, I leave you the poem (the written and the audio version). Hope you enjoy it:

En perseguirme, Mundo ¿qué interesas?

En perseguirme, Mundo, ¿qué interesas?

¿En qué te ofendo, cuando sólo intento

poner bellezas en mi entendimiento

y no mi entendimiento en las bellezas?

Yo no estimo tesoros ni riquezas;

y así, siempre me causa más contento

poner riquezas en mi entendimiento

que no mi entendimiento en las riquezas.

Y no estimo hermosura que, vencida,

es despojo civil de las edades,

ni riqueza me agrada fementida,

teniendo por mejor, en mis verdades,

consumir vanidades de la vida

que consumir la vida en vanidades.

Ana  Salas

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

Precious web resources in poetry

So, in this post we are reviewing a couple of web pages that can help you if you want to go deeper in the topic of poetry. Although this blog already provides good information, we can’t go over the centuries and centuries of poetry that is behind us, as well as the large amount of it that is written right now. Therefore, following this schema of the past and the present, here are two web-pages that cover up this two periods in time, in terms of poetry:

A media voz: This is an original Spanish site, so you can read poems of all languages, but they will be traduced. In appearance, this web is the typical one that has an enormous variety of authors with their respective poems, which are presented in a very messy way I should point out. But apart from that, the real feature that strikes me about this is that you have the possibility to HEAR the poems. You can download the voice of specialists or people in this poetry world reciting your favourite poem. But, and this is what I think is the real pearl of the site, you can even hear the authors reciting their own poems! That I believe is a real strong resource that can bring closer the audience to the sentiment that the poet wants to transmit. Away from technicalities, it’s just great!

The Poetry Society: This one is in English, and covers up news, competitions and contemporary publications, so it focus on present poetry, in contrast with the other site. To define what The Poetry Society is, I haven’t found a better definition than their own:

“The Poetry Society was founded in 1909 to promote “a more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”. Since then, it has grown into one of Britain’s most dynamic arts organisations, representing British poetry both nationally and internationally. Today it has more than 4000 members worldwide and publishes the leading poetry magazine, The Poetry Review. With innovative education and commissioning programmes and a packed calendar of performances, readings and competitions, The Poetry Society champions poetry for all ages. It runs the National Poetry Competition, one of the world’s longest-running and most prestigious prizes for an individual poem, and the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.”

So that’s basically all. I would give this web page a try because it’s pretty easy to use and very pleasant to the eye, apart from the obvious relevant content that it has.

Dissected Poetry 

This blog, as you may have notices, is about poetry. We choose this topic because we feel that nowadays one of our favorite thing in the world is slowly perishing, and we cannot allow that. I believe that there are two main reasons why this is happening. The first one is because sometimes poetry isn´t accessible. What I mean by “not accessible” is that, first of all, people usually do not go to bookshops to buy poetry anthologies. They usually go looking for famous best-seller novels or books for educational proposes. Without books or previous recommendation it seems pretty impossible for anyone to end up reading poetry. And even if you have surpassed the obstacle of inaccessibility, there is always the reason number two: complexity. More often than not, poetry is not simple to understand. So at least you are reading a poem in a class where they are going to explain what it means afterwards, you are pretty much screwed.

However, it is important to know that both of this problems have solutions. And these solutions are incredibly useful for this poetry blog. For the accessibility problem the solution is online poem browsers. Sometimes even for me it is hard to find the poems that I want to post each week. But one of the browsers that almost never fails me is the Poetry Foundation. In this website, which is quite easy to use, you can look for poems from a certain school, a certain region, or the poets’ birthdates. The webpage also has videos so you can see interviews to poets or poems performances, and audio poems so you can hear them instead of reading them.

Another useful site might be poets.org. The variety of poems that this page offers is a little bit shorter than the variety of Poetry Foundation. Yet, this page has something that might be appealing for people that usually do not like poetry but feel like reading something according to their mood. In poets.org, you can look up poems in two categories: based on the theme or based on “the occasion” (for example, if you are looking up a poem because of an anniversary the page gives you a list of poems that you might like). The third category is “form”; you can also look for poems that are perfect examples of a specific literary form.

And addressing the complexity issue, I would recommend SparkNotes. This website allows you to browse poems and poets. When looking for a poem, this site displays the poet´s biography (which for the blog comes in really handy when we are looking for reliable information about authors) and an analysis of the text. The biography is really useful because you get to understand the context in which the poem was written. Moreover, the analysis of the text help you to know what certain metaphors mean, what certain words mean and basically what the author wanted to say. The only problem with SparkNotes is that they only provide material for English written poetry. However, there are other not so prestigious pages that might provide the same material for Spanish written poetry.

I hope that these sources are as useful for the readers of this blog as they are for me. I also hope that with these tools it will be easier for everyone to understand the meaning of a poem the next time we upload one. If that happens, the goal of this blog might have been reached: poetry will be closer to everyone.


(Image from The Narratologist)
Ana Salas

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

O Captain! My Captain!

Oh Walt Whitman! This famous poem was popularised by the notorious film “Dead Poets Society”, in concrete by the literature teacher, Mr. Keating (Robin Williams). This first lines of the poem were a symbol in the film, but we desire to know more, not just the first verse. For that reason, today I’m giving an overview and analysis of the full poem, and of the life of its already mentioned author, Walt Whitman.

800px-walt_whitman_-_brady-handy_restored

Photograph taken by Brandy Handy

Walt Whitman (WW) was born in New York in 1819 and dead in New Jersey in 1892. He was a writer, a journalist and a poet between many more occupations. He still is one of the most influential writers in the U.S. and he is considered to be the father of the free verse. His more famous work is Leaves of Grass, published in 1855, where he included the poem that we are going to talk about.

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,

The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,

While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;

But O heart! heart! heart!

O the bleeding drops of red,

Where on the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;

Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,

For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,

For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

Here Captain! dear father!

This arm beneath your head!

It is some dream that on the deck,

You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,

My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,

The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,

From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;

Exult O shores, and ring O bells!

But I with mournful tread,

Walk the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.

This ode has constant metaphors, so we could even talk of an allegory. The Captain is Abraham Lincoln, the U.S. ex-president that freed the slaves. The whole poem has a solemn tone since Whitman complains and is hurt because of Lincoln’s death. And the ex-president is a Captain because the ship he is commanding is the United States. However, before the captain’s death (“My father does not feel my arm”), he has left the U.S. in a good situation (“The ship is anchor’d safe and sound”). WW is so bereaved that he repeats five times the word “heart”, to emphasize were does all the pain come from, also reiterating the tremendous pain of the author. Finally, this idea is confirmed by the repetition at the end of each strophe “Fallen cold and dead”.

I hope that now you understand better this little poem, and beginning by this one, start to give poetry the value that it has. Read you soon!

Source: http://www.brighthubeducation.com/

 http://www.wikipedia.org

 

A Modern Poet 

Sarah Kay is a 28 year old Japanese Jewish American poet who was born in New York City. She started her career as a poet when she was barely 14 years old; she participated in a casual Slam Poetry event, and she hasn’t stopped ever since. She is known because of her Spoken Word poetry, and also because of the TED talks she has given about Spoken Word. 

Her biggest accomplishment is the creation of Project V.O.I.C.E., which is an organization that uses Spoken Word to educate and inspire. As the website of Project V.O.I.C.E. says, its goal is to promote empowerment, improving literacy, and encouraging empathy and creative collaboration in classrooms and communities around the world. Alongside Phil Kaye, she founded this project back in 2004. Now she is co-director of the organization and she travels around the USA giving conferences, promoting Project V.O.I.C.E. and recruiting new poets.

Among her famous poems you can find “Hiroshima”, “B  (If I Should Have A Daughter)”, “Hands”, and “Postcards”. Most of her poems cannot be found as text, because she mostly does Spoken Word poetry. However, there are some blogs (such as Sarah Kay’s Poetry) on the Internet in which you can find transcript versions of  videos of her performances.

So, just in case you want to hear about her story and about Project V.O.I.C.E. firsthand, here is a video from her TED talk in 2011. In this video she also performs 2 of her poems, “B (If I Should Have A Daughter)” and “Hiroshima”. Hope you enjoy it.

Ana Salas

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

Bécquer, Lorca and the rest

If we wanted to know about my connection with poetry, we would have to go back in time at least 10 years ago. My parents had encouraged me to read since I was a child. I read a lot by then: comics, little novels, stories; everything that I could understand. The first experience with poetry that I experienced was with the little poems for children that were written in our books. The author of these poems was Gloria Fuertes. She wrote about simple things as animals or clothes with a very easy vocabulary and rimes, so that the children could understand well the images. We read the poems in class and I remember that I loved the rhythm and the intonation that our teacher put when she read them.

pitupiturracolor

So basically that was the beginning of my relation with this topic. In superior courses we had to memorize poems (thing that I liked, in contrast with the people in my class). Finally, in recent years things have become more serious and we have studied different authors and their poems in class, what I think that was the key that opened my sensibility to this world. To be exact, it was two years ago, when I studied in France, when I realized without even knowing it that I loved poetry. We did deep analysis on poems, analysis which I didn’t like in that time; but from which I learned a lot and build in my head the bases of analyzing poetry.

In this past two years of college we have studied Spanish authors who now are my favorites, and which poems I’ve often learned by heart. And a friend of mine encouraged me to write some too, so my connection with poetry now seems to be passive and active, in reading and writing.

Finally, with this blog hope that I can transmit to you a little bit of this passion that I feel inside. I leave you with a poem of Antonio Machado which illustrates very well this first days at the University and the overcoming of the past (I’m sorry but it is in Spanish, and I feel that if I translate it I’m going to fail in choosing the right words).

Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino y nada más;
Caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace el camino,
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.
Caminante no hay camino
sino estelas en la mar.

Antonio Machado

Read you soon!

Pablo Maljean González

Bibliography:

  • wikipedia.org
  • pinterest.com (photo of the poem)
  • Antonio Machado’s poem comes from my memory!

My first rhyme

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the simple definition for poetry is something that is very beautiful or graceful. But I have read poems that look horrible at first glance, and I have heard others that can manage to make you feel vastly uncomfortable with the first few verses. So poems aren´t always beautiful; however, something that most poems have in common is that they’re always filled with feelings.

My name is Ana Salas, and I wrote my first piece of poetry when I was four years old. Perhaps I’m being too ambitious. Perhaps you cannot call poetry to what I wrote (with terrible grammar and spelling, I must add) that day, 15 years ago. Yet, I still like to call those short lines “poetry”; not only because it took me nearly 3 hours to manage to make them rhyme, but also because I poured my little four-year-old self into them.

That day I found out how powerful words can be. And even if I didn’t thoroughly understand the superpower that I had discovered, I kept doing it. I kept writing poetry, and I still do because it is an awesome tool to get to know yourself.  For me, it has always been easier to understand what I feel through poetry.

And since now I have nothing left to say, I will end this post by showing you one of my favorite poems written by Xavier Villaurutia. It is called Nocturno Estatua:

Soñar, soñar la noche, la calle, la escalera

y el grito de la estatua desdoblando la esquina.

Correr hacia la estatua y encontrar sólo el grito,

querer tocar el grito y sólo hallar el eco,

querer asir el eco y encontrar sólo el muro

y correr hacia el muro y tocar un espejo.

Hallar en el espejo la estatua asesinada,

sacarla de la sangre de su sombra,

vestirla en un cerrar de ojos,

acariciarla como a una hermana imprevista

y jugar con las flechas de sus dedos

y contar a su oreja cien veces cien cien veces

hasta oírla decir: «estoy muerta de sueño».

Ana Salas