a poem by Cuban poet Anisley del Carmen Miraz Lladosa:
Since a girl and another century
I've been waiting. I also exchange my innocence
for a profitable iris and two words.
I've a dress of color and a puppet of borrowed conscience.
I've sat down to graze sheep and I've walked alone
through the alleys of some neighboring town.
I've breathed the rain on the faces of the gargoyles,
its polished brilliance in the teeth of the shore.
I've gone where there's room and I've also
hoped from the pockets of passers-by.
I've dined at the port and slept
with the ghosts of those full of hope
and the colonels of war.
I've known the solitude,
the whale calf that sleeps
in the conquests of the wind.
Belive me: I've been waiting. I still don't know
what for, definitely.
Let autumn begin.
Let Penelope finish her shroud of love
an elegy of papier mache
a medieval dance piece
an arm that isn't mine
a cat for my sister
a bear's claw
a house on the hill
another poem by Iraqi poet Fadhil al-Azzawi, from his selected poems Miracle Maker, published by BOA editions., translated by Khaled Mattawa. Actually, this is one section of a longer poem called "Elegy for the living"
I send you back your bombs
in boxes wrapped in gift paper
with my signature on them.
I send you back
the severed hands of Iraqi children,
and the corpses of soldiers buried in the sand,
and the black eyes of girls who have just come back
from a picnic.
America take your bombs,
and do whatever you want with your smart missles.
Hunt whales with them,
or blow them up in your rear end if you wish,
in front of your television cameras
where capitalism sits
in her old carriage
greeting the crowds lining the streets
on her way to hell.
Iraqi poet Fadhil al-Azzawi has a wonderful new book of selected poems, Miracle Maker, from BOA Editions., translated by Khaled Mattawa.
Write your name on every pain
Shall I say "History begins here,
and here the history of death dies?"
"Write, Abdullah, your history on a wave."
I said "What shall I write?
Shall I write about myself while I lick my wound?
Shall I write about a country being murdered?
Shall I write about a voice crying out in the wilderness?
"Write your name on every pain,
for the pangs of birth are cruel."
Trying to find web sites for Sudanese poetry I came across three listings, but when I tried to go to them each time I was told that the page could not be displayed:
One page I did get to see was a page for refugee Sudanese in the Pacific Northwest, gathering their poems http://depts.washington.edu/poa/Sudan
when i went to cuba in february i took about 50 books of poetry (in Spanish) to share with the poets in Trinidad, Brunswick's sister city in Cuba. Most of these were donated by White Pine Press and Arte Publico Press. I am now collecting more poetry and fiction, in Spanish, to donate to the library there. If you would like to donate new or used books to this effort, please send them here to me - Gary Lawless Gulf of Maine Books, 134 Maine Street, Brunswick, Maine 04011
Since President Bush wants to add Syria to the embargo list, I thought that today I would add this section of Syrian poet Ghada al-Samman's poem The Lover of Blue Writing above the Sea ( this is the second section of the poem):
Who will lead me to a city that is a stranger to bombs,
that I might live there?
Who will lead me to fields, stranger to furtive burials
of a murdered man tortured to death?
Who will lead me to trees
that have never heard a woman moaning for her hijacked lover?
Who will lead me to a sky
whose blue is a stranger to injustice or harshness
or a thought that has been raped?
I am tired of your love, your time,
of men like you who compete in violence...
Their love is blue writing above the sea...
Who said: the love of men is not like water through a sieve?
translated by Saad Ahmed and Miriam Cooke
from The Poetry of Arab Women - A Contemporary Anthology, edited by Nathalie Handal, Interlink Books
Cuban poet Felix Varela
devouring me slowly
of coffee and a cigarette
in the morning.
havana your skin
is a weird call
to the universe
ideal flat refusal
block of pages
with no more winter than
that on their imagination
wing opened to the wind
a vibration without antecedent
havana your skin
is not made of asphalt
neon granite rum
it is made of childhood
spring dew butterfly flower scent
impossible night to peel off.
website contacts for cuban poets:
To contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
we welcome reponses, suggestions, poems, links to websites, book suggestions relating to poets and literature from these embargoed countries -
The National Coalition Against Censorship reports that the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control said in September, 2003, that trade embargoes apply to literary and scientific manuscripts by authors from Iran, Cuba, Iraq, Sudan and Libya unless they are "camera ready". No editing, no translating, no correctig spelling or grammar, and no reordering sentences and paragraphs.
See their website at www.ncac.org
from Without an Alphabet, Without a Face Selected Poems, translated by Khaled Mattawa,
published by Graywolf Press
This Iraq will reach the ends of the graveyard.
It will bury its sons in open country
generation after generation,
and it will forgive its despot ...
It will not be the Iraq that once held the name.
And the larks will not sing.
So walk - if you wish - for a long time.
And call - if you wish -
on all the world's angels
and all its demons.
Call on the bulls of Assyria.
Call on a westward phoenix....
and through the haze of phantoms
watch for miracles to emerge
from clouds of incense.
Bard College has a wonderful site www.wordswithoutborders.org with a lot of writing from all around the world, interviews, book reviews, and a great list of other contacts. The July/August issue was Literary Border Crossings in Iran, the sept. 2003 was writing from north korea, and the oct. 2003 was literature from iraq.
another literary site to recommend: www.autodafe.org
ok, i was wrong about Yemen. It is Sudan, and not Yemen.
and, I should have given a way to respond or add information: email@example.com
Here is part of an interview with North Korean poet Choi Jini. She has defected from the North and was interviewed in the Chosun Ilbo:
Q Where do poets stand in North Korean Society?
A Basically, poets are politicians. Their primary job is to write poems to praise authority. Some writers who are good at flattery become popular and successful. We call them "a non-literary man", something equivalent to a government patronized scholar in the South. But, most writers try to keep literary value of their works and preserve their conscience as writers.
Q What does "literary value" mean?
A It means discovery of truth and forgotten beauties of daily life. North Korean poets write down love poems on their personal notes. But within their minds, they recite poems that criticize society. They hunger for beautiful rhetorics such as metaphors and symbols. Under the situation where emotional expressions and freedom of artistic expression are stifled, many North Korean poets are trying to preserve the very essence of literature. Given the hardships that they are undergoing, their efforts are extraordinary.
q Where do North Korean poets draw inspiration from?
A usually we are encouraged by senior poets who read works of William Shakespeare, Leo Tolstoy, Ernest hemingway and other great writers. When I entered elementary school, all western classics were banned in the North. I heard that when the authority confiscated all western classics, senior writers risked their lives to get these books. Such brave spirit still lives in the North Korean writers.
Q South Koreans tend to think that most of the poems in the North are to praise the regime.
A On the surface, it's true. If a piece of poem is to be published, it should contain some phrases that commend the regime. But, we have another world of literature in our minds where we can write whatever we want to express.
Q What do the North Korean poets aspire to have? Freedom?
A The North Korean writers want to have freedom. Not only a political one, but an artistic freedom. They want to freely express their thoughts, feelings and hopes. And, about the South Korean literature, I don't know yet. In the North, politics kills literature. In the south, commercialism does the same.
Cuban Poet Nancy Morejon from Looking Within Sel. Poems 1954-2000
published by Wayne State University Press, this poem translated by Heather Rosario Sievert.
for the pleasure of Rafael Alberti
Between the sword and the carnation,
I love utopias.
I love the rainbow and the kite
and I love the song of the pilgrim.
I love the romance between the bear and the iguana.
I love passports: when will passports cease to exist?
I love daily chores and the taverns
and guitars in the evening.
I love a thorny island in the throat of Goliath
like a palm tree in the center of the Gulf.
I love David.
I love liberty, which is an everlasting flower.
(translated by Heather Rosario Sievert)
This blog will feature poetry and information about poets from the countries currently embargoed by the United States. These poets are embargoed as well, as it is illegal to edit or present their work in the US. I would love to hear from anyone who has translations, interviews, articles, website or book suggestions - Countries we will consider for now are Cuba, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, North Korea.
Here is a poem I wrote on returning from Cuba, and a poem by a wonderful Cuban poet, from Trinidad, written in response:
someone said to love your country
someone said thou shalt not kill
someone said to love your neighbor as yourself
someone said you can't go there but
someone said to follow your heart
someone said it isn't possible
someone said yes it is
yes it is
Manuel Alberto Garcia Alonso wrote:
Here we are, in the hope and love of our friendship.
Here we are, with the sound inside of our hearts
Here we are, happy like the new world,
a world without darkness and fury.
Here we are, in the hands of love,
the sweet love of the earth
and the air, and the fragrance,
and the smiles of justice.
Yes, my verses are all truth and joy.